As I mentioned in my previous article, our planned itinerary needed revisions from the start. We were very lucky that we had minimal altitude symptoms: no headaches and no shortness of breath, so we were two days ahead of schedule by day four of our trek.
My vitals responded to altitude dramatically. My resting heart rate was 85 instead of 58 at sea level. My resting respiratory rate became 18 when I got to Gokyo lakes (I’d probably get dizzy breathing that fast for an hour at sea level). A fellow hiker brought along a pulse oximetry unit which I registered 73% while my wife was 76%. Considering that we were at 4,940m elevation at the time where the atmospheric pressure was 56kPa and O2 level was 56% of the sea level, I think we were doing ok.
Our actual itinerary of the trek was:
Day 1: flight into Lukla, hike to Namche. (11.38 miles; 9 ½ hrs, elevation 11,286 ft)
Day 2: acclimatization day: walk around Namche, go up to Mt Everest View Hotel (5 miles)
Day 3: hike to Dole (5.76 miles; 7 hrs, 13,250 ft)
Day 4: Gokyo lake (8.2 miles; 6 hrs, 15,720 ft)
Day 5: Go up Gokyo Ri x2 (17,989 ft)
Day 6: Crossing Cho La pass to Dzongla (7.5 miles; 8 hrs, Cho La pass elevation 17,782 ft)
Day 7: to Pyramid (3 hrs, 16,207 ft)
Day 8: up to Kala Patthar and back to Pyramid (7.5 hrs, KP elevation 18,514 ft)
Day 9: Hike down to Chukhung (6 hrs; 15,518 ft)
Day 10: Snow day = resting day, try to go see Imja lake (didn’t see it)
Day 11: Up Chukhung Ri and back; down to Pangboche (3+ 2.5 hrs; Chukhung Ri elevation 18,209 ft)
Day 12: Up to Ama Dablam base camp and back; down to Tengboche (3 + 2 hrs; AD BC 14,993ft; Tengboche: 12,664 ft)
Day 13: Hike back to Namche (3.5 hrs)
Day 14: Namche to Lukla (6 hrs, 9,383 ft)
I think our trek went very well over all. However, if you are interested in following our foot steps, I’d suggest a few modifications here.
- Don’t go up Gokyo Ri twice like we did. It was unnecessarily taxing to the body. We did not have an unobstructed view on the second attempt, either. Instead, we could’ve taken the rest of the day to Cho Oyu base camp. We were told later that the view at Cho Oyu base camp is even better than that of Gokyo Ri
- The other alternative is to hike up to Renjo pass and back. Renjo pass the third of the Three Pass Route. It’s arguably the easiest one of the three. It may be a fantastic experience just to make it a day trip to go up Renjo and back to Gokyo for the night.
- I would not go directly from Gokyo lake to Dzongla unless you start super early– like 5 or 6am. In fact, I would highly recommend you to spend the night in Tragnag before crossing Cho La pass. Cho La pass is difficult and dangerous especially when the visibility is low and there are few people in sight (both of which tends to happen later in the day). We were moving quickly and it took us 1.5 hours to get to Tragnag, 2 hours to get to the bottom of Cho La pass, and 2 more hours to summit the pass. Most people with guides will try to get across the pass before noon for a very good reason. If you have any doubt during your crossing, there is no shame in turning around and rest a night in Tragnag.
- You can’t see this in the itinerary. From Kala Patthar, there is not a direct path to EBC. You have to return to Gorak Shepp first. We tried to follow a path seeming to connect to EBC trail. We ended up having lunch on top of a cliff looking down at people on the EBC trail but had no way to descend from the cliff.
What do you think about our trek itinerary? Anything else you’d done differently? Are you ready for a detailed account of our trek? Let’s started with Day 1: to Lukla, to Namche!
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Are you planning a trekking trip of own? Check out my packing list.