This is a very strenuous trek and climb of 32 days. Return trip to/from Vancouver including time in Kathmandu is 41 days. Best expedition times October / November and April / May.
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Imja Tse (Island Peak) stands at the head of the Imja Khola Valley. Being a ridge extension from Lhotse Shar, it truly is an island peak. It is surrounded by a sea of glaciers and moraines pouring down from seven and eight thousand meter giants. The last two hundred meters of Imja Tse is where the technical challenge lies. We arrive at Imja Tse ready and acclimatized after an exciting roundabout tour of the Khumbu's high valleys, an incredible journey in its own right.
As this trip follows the same route as the Everest Khumbu trek for most of the journey, you can read a more detailed travelogue on the Everest Khumbu page.
Everest Khumbu Trek
Days of the trip:
Exploring Kathmandu with an afternoon Hindu and Buddhist temple walk.
Dawn over Kathmandu from the hill-top Buddhist temple Swayambunath.
Bus to Jiri - 2100m. If it's clear we'll have our first views of the Himalaya.
Our trek begins with an easy day to Shivalaya 1780m. Our first night camping by the river.
Bhandar - 2150m. Entering the land of the Bhuddist Sherpas.
Sete - 2575m. The morning walk drops from Bhandar to Kenja at 1570m. then begins the long climb to the Lamjura La (pass). Sete is half-way up. Fantastic sunsets from an ancient crumbling monastery.
Junbesi - 2675m. After lunch at the pass 3530m. we begin the descent to Junbesi. Inhabited by the Sherpas for centuries, the land is rich and pastoral. The people are rich in culture and hospitality. . Numbur Peak,7000m.,the home of spirits of protection, looms over the head of the valley. There are many gompas (temples/monasteries) within easy walking distance. It's a perfect place to spend an extra day.
Junbesi - This is a rest / explore / washing day. Thubten Choling, the monastery home to 500 Tibetan monks and nuns is a 90 minute walk up the valley .The visit is fascinating and often very moving.
Nuntala - 2250m. If the morning is clear, just around the ridge-end from Junbesi, we have our first view of the Khumbu Himal. If very clear, Everest itself stands tall. After lunch we cross the Trakshindo La-3170m, .entering the Dudh Khosi (river) watershed. Nuntala is half-way down the long descent to the river that drains all the water of Everest and the Khumbu.
Bupsa - 2300m. Having crossed the Dudh Khosi, we turn north and begin our climb to the Khumbu.
Surke - 2290m. Our night in this quiet riverside village is the last before our trail merges with the "crowds" who've flown into Lukla. The difference in perspectives between those who've walked all the way in and those who've taken a short flight makes the walkers appreciate their journey from Jiri all the more.
Phakding - 2800m. a large Sherpa/hotel town straddling the river.
Namche Bazaar - 3450m. It's a long hill up to Namche, the commercial center of the Khumbu Sherpas. Long the mecca of mountaineers and hikers, one feels great satisfaction in having arrived here on foot, particularily if you've walked from Jiri.
Namche Bazaar - Another night is necessary to acclimatize. It is helped greatly by walking higher still. As the area around Namche is absolutely stunning, it's a pleasure more than a duty. Above Namche the view opens to wrap-around ice giants with Everest and Ama Dablam crowning the top of the valley. Climbing up to this vista leaves you breathless in every way. As our hours of trekking are shorter at higher altitudes, these afternoon "hikes" become a regular feature. Besides increasing your pleasure, they greatly assist your acclimatization. You get to sleep "low" every night.
Mong La - 4000m. This little hamlet perched on the side of Mt. Khumbila is the gateway to theGokyo Valley.
Dole - 4100m. Camping at the Yeti Inn! Cho Oyu - 8153m. dominates the head of the valley.
Machermo - 4400m. On the afternoon walk, 5000m.and a view of Everest (which we've lost since being in the Gokyo Valley) are both possible. Although altitude gain is advantageous, this valley is wild and beautiful from every height. There is no "mandatory" point to reach on these afternoon outings. If it isn't a pleasure,something isn't working.
Gokyo - 4750m. The last settlement in the valley. Cho Oyu is huge!
Gokyo - A very early morning ascent of Gokyo Ri (hill) offers what many consider to be one of the world's greatest views, and the best of Everest. Cho Oyu, Gyakchung Kang, Everest, Lhotse and Makalu soar above a sea of 6000m peaks. After lunch, we cross the vast wasteland of the Ngozumpa Glacier to Tagnag near the foot of the Tso La pass.
The climb up to the pass, 5420m, is breathtaking in every way. We cross the glacier crest with views from Menlungste to Makalu then descend to near the foot of the Khumbu glacier at Dzongla. The north face of Cholatse is incomprehensible!
We rejoin the "Everest Highway" above Dughla, and then follow the Khumbu Glacier to Gorak Shep, 5180 meters. This was the 1953 British "Lake" advance base camp.
We climb in the early morning to Kala Patar, a 5600m "hill", below Pumori. The summit block of Chomolungma towers above, stripped of its snow by the jetstream winds. It is humbling to stand so close to earth's hightest point. In the afternoon, we descend to Lobuche, 4960m.
Descent to Dingboche for a day of thicker and warmer air. Looking up the Imja Valley, we finally see Island Peak, dwarfed by the Nuptse-Lhotse wall, miles of seven to eight thousand meter ice-pinnacled ridges.
The short climb to Chukung 4750m, an afternoon of rest or exploration.
Chukung Ri 5565m. For me, the view from Chukung Ri is beyond that of Everest from Kala Patar. The Nuptse-Lhotse wall, the pink granite monolith of Makalu, and the southern wall fluted with ice gulleys from 7000m Baruntse to 7000m Ama Dablam, the peak that many feel is the most beautiful in the world.
Trek to base camp 5100m.
Climb up to High camp. There is a trail to 5600m, a stunning place to spend the night.
Summit day - long, hard and cold but this climbing is interesting! 200m of scrambling up a blocky ridge, 100m of fairly tame icefall to the 6000m level. A low angled climb up the glacier to the bergshrund. Above this a 100m section of 50-55 degree ice/snow leads to the ridge. Then the steep snaking ridge to the summit. Speechless wonder.
More info on Imja Tse can be found in the book, Trekking Peaks of Nepal by Bill O'Connor.
Descent to Chukung.
Down to Tengboche: the most beautiful setting in the world for a Buddhist temple.
Back to Namche - our Khumbu high circuit is complete. The air is thick enough to induce a party mood!
Down to Lukla.
Flight to Kathmandu.
Eat, sleep, explore, eat, shower, eat, shop, etc.!!
This is actually our "extra" day to be used where most needed or wanted: on the trek, on the mountain or in Kathmandu.
Good luck refocusing on the Western world!
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Tel: Canada 250-954-2345