Filled with glaciers, turquoise lakes and savage mountain scenery, the Gokyo & The Imja Tse Valley north of Khumjung offers an exciting alternative to the traditional Everest Base Camp approach. The huge massifs of Cho Oyu (8153m) and Gyachung Kang (7922m) dominate the head of this rugged canyon. Countless other summits loom to either side. This trek is perfect for the committed trekker who wants to see every aspect of the Khumbu region. In addition to an ascent of the 5400m Gokyo Ri pea, we take in the Cho La pass which links Gokyo to the main Everest trek at Lobuje; the summit of Kala Pattar for close up views of Everest’s South-West Face and a traverse to the pretty Imja Tse valley and the imposing wall of the Lhotse face. Finally, we return down to Lukla via the famous Buddhist monastery at Tengboche. Please note that the narrow Gokyo valley rises quickly in altitude and therefore some of our trekking days are very short. This is vital if everyone is to be properly acclimatised before tackling Gokyo Ri and the Cho La.
Price per person 2 pax: 2096.00 USD
Price per person 4 pax: 1988.00 USD
Meet assist by Mountain Travel representative and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Hotel.
Our early morning flight by Twin Otter aircraft rushes us to Lukla, the most renowned mountain airstrip in the world. Originally conceived by Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust as an emergency evacuation runway for casualties brought to the Trust’s hospital at nearby Kunde, Lukla is now one of the busiest runways in Nepal. On the flight we watch the rugged foothills give way to the snowline of the Himalaya; many of the world’s highest mountains, including Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu (the world’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th highest respectively) may sometimes be seen from the window of the plane. On arrival, we meet our Sherpas and after a cup of tea we pick up the trail out of Lukla. Surprisingly, this high-altitude trek begins by descending to the river at Phakding. Further on and we choose one of several good camp sites in a wooded area at Chumoa, close to the entrance to the Sagarmartha National Park.
The first day may have been surprisingly long for some, but camping at Chumoa allows us to begin the ascent to Namche Bazaar first thing in the morning. At about half-way up the hill, a gap in the trees allow us to spy Everest for the first time. If the weather is clear the top of the South-West Face will be just visible behind the long Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. A plume can often be seen stretching away from the very summit. Namche is the most prosperous and the largest town in the Khumbu. A bazaar is held here every Saturday. The wares on display include meat, grains and vegetables, tennis shoes and trinkets as well as hand woven aprons and Tibetan boots. The Sherpas play host to traders from the foothills, as well as Tibetans from over the border. Thamserku (6648m), Kwangde Ri (6187m) and Khumbila (5707m) surround the natural bowl that Namche sits in.
We take the day off to allow our bodies to adjust to the rarefied atmosphere. The secret of safe acclimatisation is to ‘climb high, sleep low’ so it is safe for the more energetic amongst us to hike up the hill behind Namche to the airstrip at Syangboche, or stroll across to the museum behind the police post. Others may prefer to ‘chill out’ and visit one of the lodges for a freshly-baked cinnamon roll.
A brisk climb straight out the back of Namche deposits us at the airstrip at Syangboche. We cross the runway and climb a little further to a ridge, before dropping down past the school in Khumjung. We then descend further into rhododendron scrub forest where there is always a good chance of seeing pheasant, and head towards an impregnable-looking rock wall on the north side of the valley. A giant's causeway of granite steps forms an incredible route up this face before the trail emerges on high grazing ground. Further on and our trail drops quickly nearly all the way to the Dudh Kosi before leaving the route to head towards Phortse.
This is a nice short day to further improve our acclimatisation. Our trail ascends rapidly out of the valley and passes through rhododendron forests, juniper and conifers. Trekkers in the late Spring will see this area at its best. Our route passes through and around many ‘kharkas’, the Sherpas’ summer settlements for their yaks. We trek past Tongba and Gyele to the buildings at Dole. For folk who still have some calories to burn, there is a ridge behind the hamlet with a wonderful view up and down the valley.
You’re now entering Yeti country. It was in this area that a Yeti is said to have killed three yak and attacked a Sherpani in 1974. Our trail climbs steeply past Lhabarma and Luza to the great mountain views that can be enjoyed at Macherma.
More uphill to a ridge and then onto the start of the climb to the terminal moraine of the Ngozumpa glacier, but we’re getting used to it now - and so are our legs. The first of the pretty turquoise lakes is finally reached and at last the trail begins to level out. The collection of dwellings at Gokyo is located close to the third lake. Gokyo was the start of the successful attempt to fly over Everest by hot air balloon in 1991.
Gokyo Ri is the unsung hero of all the viewpoints in the Everest region. Set further back from Everest than Kala Pattar, Gokyo provides us with a wide panorama of Everest and her sisters, as well as distant Makalu. Close by is mighty Cho Oyu. The view down the trail to the three lakes is equally impressive.
We have included this day for a number of reasons; some people will have been too tired the previous day to ascend Gokyo Ri, and so will have the opportunity to do so today. Others may be tired from their ascent yesterday! And maybe a few will want to explore the local area still further - around the lakes, or perhaps an ascent of one of the other small peaks hereabouts.
Today is the start of the crossing of the Cho La. The trail begins by wandering to the south. Then it splits from the main route and a short climb leads to the crossing of the jumbled moraine of the Ngozumpa Glacier. After lunch at Dragnag we get stuck into the hard scrambling that takes us to a point just below the pass.
After an early wake-up, the route crosses over broken ground and scree before starting up the slab rock of the pass itself. Depending on the time of year snow or/and rock will be followed to the snow field of the Cho La pass. After pausing to enjoy the view, our descent starts gradually before more awkward terrain leads to the huts at Dzong La.
An ill defined track traverses across to join the main trail coming up from Pheriche. A stiff ascent to the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier is now tackled. The top of the climb is marked by a series of stone monuments. A rough but obvious trail cuts across left, away from the glacier, to our camp site at Lobuje, a windswept collection of huts tucked in a narrow meadow between the glacier and the Lobuje Peak (6156m). The Lhotse ridge is simply awesome from this angle.
A long day and an early start. We trek along the rough path along the side of the Khumbu glacier to the tea shack at Gorak Shep. Behind rises the attractive 7000m peak of Pumori which dwarfs our trek’s summit of Kala Pattar. The route up the hill is a straightforward walk and takes mot people between 90 minutes and 2 hours. All the peaks - Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Changtse, Ama Dablam and scores of other lesser peaks can be seen from this wonderful vantage point.
A long day. We scoot back across and down the moraine to Dughla, then stay along the ridge, high above Periche. At the end of the ridge we look left and see the village of Dingboche. Thanks to their irrigation scheme this place is able to grow barley; this may well be the highest point in the world where it is successfully harvested. A gradual descent takes us to the corner of this settlement and the start of the late afternoon trek up the Imja Tse valley to Chukung. There are great views here of Lhotse, Ama Dablam, the Amphu Laptsa and Cho Polu, a pretty pyramid peak. Island Peak (6,139m) the most popular of the 'Trekking Peaks' stand by itself at the east end of the valley.
Having been consistently at altitudes above 4000m most trekkers welcome the thought of returning to warmer days and an easier life. But for those who want one more climb to altitude, Chukung Ri is the last chance. An early dawn start on this hill is essential in order to return to collect the later-risers and head off down the valley to Dingboche and the confluence of the Dudh Khosi. Then across the plains of Orsha to Lower Pangboche and on across the river once more to the Rhododendron forests below the world-famous Tengboche monastery. .
From the monastery we trek down, down, down to Phunki (3250m) and the bridge across the Imja Khola. An enjoyable climb then leads up the side of the valley and around to Namche Bazaar, the most well-known and written-about valley in the Khumbu. After the last two weeks, Namche appears to offer many of life’s luxuries.
Most people head towards Lukla with a heavy heart. There is something very special about the setting, the villages and the people of the high Khumbu hills and valleys and it the deceptively long hard climb leading up to Lukla. Our campsite and house are well located and offer a good final resting spot for (hopefully) the one night stay before the early morning departure.
Another chance to enjoy this great flight. Please note that flights into Lukla are sometimes delayed due to un-flyable conditions either in fog-bound Kathmandu or windy Lukla; be reassured that our staff in Lukla and in Kathmandu will be doing everything possible to minimise the inconvenience caused if this happens. Your patience in the trying circumstances which can occur will be greatly appreciated. Arrive Kathmandu. On arrival meet assist by Mountain Travel representative and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Hotel.