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Depart country of origin
Transit (overnight en route)
Arrive Kathmandu by 2pm. You’ll check into the renowned Yak and Yeti Hotel, a cornerstone of the Kathmandu scene, and attend an orientation meeting followed by a welcome dinner with other trekkers and climbers.
From the centrally located Yak and Yeti, we’ll begin our exploration of Kathmandu. While modern by Nepalese standards, Kathmandu is a sacred city to Hindus and Buddhists. Our tour is an important introduction to the cultures we’ll discover ahead. Kathmandu is prominently featured in Buddhist scriptures and Hindu texts, such as the Ramayana. Our tour includes three World Heritage Sights — 3,000-year-old Swayambhu (monkey temple), the Hindu temple and cremation site Pashupati, and the great Stupa of Bodnath.
After final administration requirements, we’ll fly via Twin Otter to the landing strip in Lukla. Weather permitting, this flight offers outstanding views of the eastern Himalayas. In Lukla, we’ll join our Sherpa staff, load the yaks and begin the ascent to base camp. Our first day offers an easy three-hour hike to the lush environs of Phakding, located on the Dudh Kosi river. Hiking time: 3-4 hours.
We’ll follow the Dudh Kosi, ascending 2,300 ft./700 m through Himalayan pine and Doedar cedar forests, to the celebrated village of Namche Bazaar (11,300 ft./3,444 m). The village of Namche is an historic trading post where Nepalese and Tibetan traders exchanged salt, dried meat, gold and textiles. Besides being a superb place to shop for traditional crafts, Namche remains the central trading post in the Khumbu, attracting Himalayan and lowland merchants. Our group spends will spend two days in Namche affording us the opportunity to acclimate, visit local markets and spend time with friends in town. On the hike, we capture our first glimpses of Everest and neighboring peaks. Hiking time: 5-6 hours
In the morning, we’ll take an acclimatization hike, gaining 1,000 feet to take in the vista of Everest and the surrounding peaks. In the afternoon, we’ll have time to visit sights in Namche Bazaar, including the local marketplace.
On perhaps one of the most fascinating days of the trek, we’ll travel to the village of Thame (12,464 ft./3,800 m), off the main trekking path. We’ll have the unique opportunity of visiting the home of Lakpa Rita Sherpa, our Sirdar (lead Sherpa) and Everest climbing guide. His family has been a mainstay of this small community, raising yaks and farming. This gives us an intimate view of Sherpa culture while visiting a traditional home. Interestingly enough, a number of famous climbing Sherpa have come from Thame. The Thame experience is one rarely afforded to trekkers. After lunch, we climb to the Thame monastery and further explore local Buddhism. We’ll tour this 400 year-old gompa (monastery) and learn about its inner workings and the lives of its monks. As we view the monastery, we’ll discuss the wall paintings and artifacts that are central to Buddhist practice. Hiking time: 5 hours.
From Thame, we’ll walk to the beautiful twin villages of Khumjung and Khunde (12,400 ft./3,780 m), two of the largest villages in the Khumbu, and home of Sir Edmund Hillary’s hospital and school. The day’s walk is moderate and pretty, winding through thick cedar forest. Hiking time: 6 hours
We’ll continue on and climb to the village of Tengboche (12,683 ft./3,865 m), the cultural and religious center of the Khumbu. At the monastery we’ll attend Buddhist ceremonies and rituals performed by local monks. Vistas from Tengboche are spectacular. The jagged peaks of Thamserku and Kangtega stand to our south, as Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam are visible to the north. The Monastery at Tengboche is one of the most well-known in the world, as the Rinpoche is revered throughout the Buddhist community, and has authored a number of books and essays. In the past our groups have had an audience with the Rinpoche and received his blessing.
Views from this locale (one of the finest on earth), include Kwangde (20,293 ft./6,185 m), Tawachee (21,457 ft./6,540 m), Nuptse (25,843 ft./7,876 m), Lhotse (27,883 ft./8498 m), Everest (29,029 ft./8,848 m), Ama Dablam (22,487 ft./6,854 m), Kantega (22,235 ft./6,777 m), Thamserku (21,674 ft./6,606 m). We’ll visit the community Sherpa Cultural Center and excellent nearby bakery, and descend slightly to lodge in the village of Deboche. Hiking time: 4-5 hours
We’ll climb to the village of Pheriche (13,907 ft./4,238 m), not far from Dingboche (a village en route to Island Peak). Pheriche has become famous for its high-altitude medical clinic. The center attracts world-renowned physicians who, from time to time, acquire data to analyze the effects of high altitude on human physiology. During our stay, we’ll visit the clinic and learn more about the effects of high altitude on Himalayan climbers. Hiking time: 4 hours. We’ll also spend an additional day of acclimatizing and hiking.
Above Pheriche, the character of the terrain changes, and we’ll begin to understand the starkness of the high alpine landscape. This trail passes through a famous memorial that honors the many Sherpa who lost their lives in the high mountains. Our path climbs the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier and continues to the settlement of Lobuje (16,174 ft./4,929 m), where we’ll spend one night. Lobuje is located on the flank of an old lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier. Hiking time: 4-5 hours
The trail winds through the high tundra and glacial moraine to Gorak Shep (16,924 ft./5,158 m), the last inhabited area before Everest Base Camp. Hiking time: 4 – 5 hours.
While at Gorak Shep, we’ll make an ascent of Kala Pattar (18,300 ft./5,577 m), a small peak with excellent views of Everest, Nuptse and nearby Pumori. Many Everest photos are taken from the summit of Kala Pattar. Gorak Shep presents a rougher environment and gives the trekker the true flavor of the nighttime rigors of mountaineering. This will be our high point of acclimatization before heading to Lobuche.
We’ll leave Gorak Shep and cross the moraine of the great Khumbu glacier to reach Base Camp (17,300 ft./5,273 m), which lies beneath the sweeping ridges of Everest and Nuptse. We’ll spend a few hours at base camp before returning to Lobuche to prepare for an early morning. Hiking time: 7 hours.
From Lobuche , we hike 2-3 hours to Lobuche East High Camp (17,700 ft./5,400 m). The camp is located next to a small lake and offers a great view of our summit objective. In the afternoon we will finish rigging our climbing gear and practice the fixed line and rappelling skills we will use on tomorrow’s climb. Some experience with fixed lines is recommended as is previous rappelling. We will make an ascent early the next morning.
Our summit bid will start very early this morning, with a couple of hours hiking and scrambling up rock slabs and some gullies to the snowline. After we put on our crampons, we will climb up the Southeast ridge for about 1,500 feet on steepening snow to the summit (20,070 ft./6,119 m). Most of the snow climbing is done with aid of fixed lines. From the summit of Lobuche East the vistas are amazing — close up views of the summits of Everest, Nuptse and Cholatse as well as a number of others. We return to high camp after our climb, and spend the night there.
After moving from high camp with a night Chhukung, climbers head to Island Peak Base Camp (16,690 ft./5,087 m) which will be the starting point for our ascent the next day. The climb begins with a three hour scramble to the Imja Tse glacier. Our route ascends the east side of the mountain. An hour of climbing in and around crevasses brings us to the fixed lines. These lines run directly up the SE face at 65 degrees for 400 feet to the summit.
We’ll return to Pangboche, Namche and Lukla.
We’ll take an early morning flight to Kathmandu (weather permitting) and spend much of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the deluxe services of the Yak and Yeti hotel.
Free time to tour the city, including the temples and sites of Durbar Square and the Thamel section. We’ll also assist trekkers with their final shopping needs, and follow with a farewell dinner.
Early morning departure for home.
Strengths are clearly the caliber of guides and the logistical planning. The guides are not only great mountaineers but great people – a pleasure to be with. The staff in Seattle is excellent – always ready to help and get whatever information you need.