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Sherpa Villages of Khumbu

Duration                    4-5 hours

Max Elevation          3850m

Standard                   Medium

Season                       All year

Start/Finish            Namche Bazaar

Summary                 Take a day hike through the villages of Khunde and Khumjung. Spend the whole day and eat lunch in one of the many hotels along the route.

This day walk is a circuit to Namche Bazaar that climbs 460m to Khunde and Khumjung, before returning to Namche. Follow the schoolchildren from Namche on a steep one-hour,climb to the Shyangboche airstrip (3790m) which was built to serve the Hotel Everest View. In the early morning you might see the spectacular landing of a big Russian helicopter carrying cargo to Shyangboche. There are two lodges, the Phinjo Lodge and the Khumbila Guest House, near the top of the airstrip. The trail crosses the west end of the runway towards a telephone relay tower and the intersection of three trails. The schoolchildren will follow the direct route to Khumjung, climbing past a chorten atop the ridge at 3870m.

The trail to Khunde branches west off the trail crossing the airstrip a short distance after it starts uphill. Once you branch off, climb to a small chorten on the ridge, then descend to a kani and a large chorten at the south end of Khunde. The Khunde Hospital, built in 1966 and still maintained by the Himalayan Trust, is at the top of the Village. Its mission is to treat local people, but it provides emergency care to trekkers. A consultation costs US$40. The only lodge in Khunde is the Shangrila Lodge, just below the hospital. From Khunde, follow the trail eastward to Khumjung, the largest village in Khumbu, at the foot of the sacred peak Khumbila.

As you approach Khumjung you’ll reach a large side valley to the south. Beyond a mani wall and some chortens are the extensive grounds of the Khumjung school at 3780m. This is the original Hillary school, established in 1960. It has succeeded in providing an excellent primary education for many of the children of Khumbu. In 1983 the Himalayan Trust expanded the facility to include a high school. Sherpa children no longer have to go to boarding school at Salieri, a week away, to complete their education.

Alongside the trail, opposite the school, are the Amadablam, Sherpa Land and Hidden Village lodges. About 400m to the east is the Konchok Chumbi Lodge, which is part of the Himalayan Chain Lodge system. The nearby Everest Bakery uses electric ovens to produce excellent bread and rolls and sells them, accompanied by freshly ground coffee, from the attached restaurant.

A circuitous route among the stone walls of the village leads to a grove of cedars and the Khumjung gompa, which possesses what is said to be the skull of a yeti, or abominable snowman. Sir Edmund Hillary, village headman Konchok Chumbi, Desmond Doig and Marlin Perkins took this relic to the USA in 1960 to be examined by scientists. The scientists said the scalp was made from the skin of a serow, a member of the antelope family, but the yeti legend still continues.

Near the gompa is the Compa Lodge and the newer Mountain View Lodge. From the gompa follow a high trail across the top of the village, passing below the Hill Top View Lodge, and descend to the valley floor near a chorten east of the Everest Bakery. Follow a small trail that climbs into the forest south of the bakery. Thirty minutes of walking will bring you to a ravine below a massive stone building. A trail around the west side of the building will lead you to the front steps of the Hotel Everest View. You can get a cup of coffee or tea or an extravagant meal here and enjoy excellent views of Everest and Ama Dablam from the comfort of the restaurant.

Follow the trail south from the Everest View as it winds around the hillside high above the Dudh Kosi. Where the trail makes a sharp turn to the west near the Khumbu Mountain View Lodge take a small trail that heads due south towards the foot of the airfield, passing the heavily advertised upmarket Shyangboche Panorama Hotel.

Descend and cross the airfield, then follow a steep trail that switch- backs its way down to a huge carved mani stone at Chhorkung (3540m). Here you can visit the museum at Hotel Sherwi Khangba or make a short walk to the national park museum on the hillside above. It’s then a quick descent back to Namche Bazaar at 3420m. If you want to avoid the steep trail to Chhorkung, stay on the main Everest View path and follow it back to the top of the airstrip where you can rejoin your original route.

Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

4-5 hours, 350m descent, 750m ascent There is a direct, reasonably level, route from Namche to Tengboche that starts at Chhor-kung. The route weaves in and out of side valleys, making small ups and downs, to the souvenir stalls and teashops of Kenjoma, and joins the trail from Khumjung just before a collection of mani stones. Look for tahr below the trail in the morning. The views of Everest and Ama Dablam are excellent.

Beyond the Khumjung trail junction at 3600m is another group of teashops. This settlement, called Sanasa by the locals and ‘schlockmeister junction’ by trek leaders, is inhabited primarily by Tibetans. There is always an extensive display of Tibetan (and made-in-Kathmandu) souvenirs to tempt you. Bargaining is very much in order. There are more varied, slightly longer routes via Khumjung. From the western end of Shyangboche airstrip you have a choice I of three trails:

Alternative Route: via Khumjung

To get to Khumjung stay on the trail from Shyangboche and head for a large chorten and a good view of Everest at the top of the ridge at 3870m. Follow the trail down through the forest to the Khumjung Hillary school at 3780m. From Khumjung the trail goes eastward down the valley, cpntinuously passing picturesque mani walls and chort-ens. After a short descent it meets the main Tengboche trail just before Sanasa.

Alternative Route: via Khunde

The trail to Khunde branches west off the trail that crosses the airstrip a short distance after it starts uphill. Once you branch off, climb to a small chorten on the ridge, then descend to Khunde. Follow the trail eastward to Khumjung and down to Sanasa.

Alternative Route: via Hotel Everest View

From the airstrip it is a 20-minute walk to the Hotel Everest View. Cross the airstrip and climb past the telephone tower to a trail that leads off to the right (east). Follow the trail to the single-storey hotel at 3890m. A trail descends from the hotel to the eastern end of Khumjung village (3790m). You can backtrack to Khumjung or head down the hill to join the Tengboche route.

From Sanasa the trail descends gradually to Labisyasa, just at the foot of Teshinga, where there are a few teashops. The trail drops steeply on a dusty trail to Phunki Thanga, a small settlement with three small lodges and several water-driven prayer wheels on the banks of the Dudh Kosi at 3250m. The army post here is part of the national park administration.

It is a two-hour climb from Phunki Thanga to Tengboche. The trail climbs steeply at first, then makes a gradual ascent through forests and around mani stones as it follows the side of a hill up to the saddle on which the monastery sits at 3870m, in a clearing surrounded by dwarf firs and rhododendrons. The view from this spot, seen to best advantage in the morning, is rightly deemed to be one of the world’s most magnificent. Kwangde (6187m), Tawachee (6542m), Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse (8501m), Ama Dablam, Kantega and Thamserku provide an inspiring panorama of Himalayan giants. Kantega means ‘horse saddle’, and from Tengboche it’s clear how it got its name.

The following sign used to appear near the monastery guesthouse and reflects the tradition of this remote monastery:

I am happy to welcome you to Tengboche. This is the religious centre of the whole ‘Sherpa-land’, in fact the entire Solu-Khumbu area. A very modest rest house has been built on the far end of the meadow facing Chomolungma (Mt Everest). It has been erected with the funds collected from friends and visitors who have come to this sacred and beautiful place. If you wish, you may contribute to our meagre funds to enable us to make it more comfortable when you come again, for we hope you will. Anything you wish to give will be gratefully accepted.

While you are a guest at Tengboche, whether you stay in the rest house or in your own tents, I wish to request youjto observe the few rules in observance of the Divine Dharma. Please do not kill or cause to kill any living creature in the area of this holy place. This includes domestic fowls and animals, as also wild game.

Please remember that this holy place is devoted to the worship of the Perfect One, and that nothing should be done within these sacred precincts which will offend or cause to hurt those who live here in humility and serenity. May you journey in peace and walk in delight, and may the blessings of the Perfect One be always with you.

Ngawang Tenzing Zangbu The Reincarnate of Tengboche Lodges at Tengboche include the New Zealand-built Tengboche Trekkers Lodge, a part of the Sagarmatha National Park development, which is on the ridge to the west of the monastery. The lodge is operated on contract and has dormitory accommodation and a small kitchen. It’s comfortable and warm, but can also be noisy and crowded.

There are few other facilities at Tengboche. The gompa-owned Tengboche Guest House, north of the monastery grounds, has dormitory accommodation. The Tashi Detek Lodge across the field from the gompa is small and usually full, but Passang Thongdup is a personable and helpful hotelier. The Himalayan View sometimes has rooms available, but it’s often taken over by trekking groups. There is another unnamed teashop nearby, but it caters primarily to porters.

The gompa charges a fee for each tent erected at Tengboche and a monk comes around with a receipt book to be sure that you pay. It is one of the few sources of revenue for the monastery, which supports about 50 or 60 monks, so it isn’t reasonable to argue about this charge. Several trekking companies donate money to the monastery each year and in return receive the use of certain Camp sites. The monks won’t let you camp in these places. The small Lhotse Lodge is a 15 minute walk north of Tengboche.

Kanchi’s Everest Rhododendron Lodge, Pemba Dorje’s large, green-roofed Ama Dablam Garden Lodge or the Snow Lion Lodge). A bit further on, near the nunnery, is the Anny Gompa Lodge, These may be better choices when Teng-boche is filled to capacity – or at any time, some would argue, to relieve the pressure on Tengboche’s limited water supply and general environment.

Day 5: Optional Acclimatisation Day in Tengboche

You will do much better in the high country if you spend another day acclimatising. You can make a day walk to Pangboche, climb the hill behind Tengboche for good mountain views or explore the monastery itself.

Each day the monks perform ceremonies at 6am and 3pm. Tourists are welcome to visit the monastery during the ceremonies but the rimpoche asks that you sit quietly on the right-hand side and do not take flash photos or otherwise disturb the ceremonies. There is a small eco-centre with historical and cultural exhibits.

Inquire here about tours of the monastery. These are offered during the trekking season at 8am and 4pm. They are free, although a small donation is expected. The shop at the gompa sells T-shirts, books, prayer flags, mani stones and incense. It is nonprofitmaking and in buying something at the shop you are directly making a contribution to the monastery.

Day 6: Tengboche to Pheriche

3-41/2 hours, 70m descent, 450m ascent-From Tengboche it’s a short, steep and muddy descent to Devuche through a forest of birches, conifers and rhododendrons. Because of the ban on hunting at Tengboche, you can often see almost-tame blood pheasants and Nepal’s national bird, the Himalayan monal or impeyan pheasant, which fives only at high altitudes. Only the male is colourful, with a reddish tail, shiny blue back and a metallic green tinge and pure
white under its wings. It appears almost iridescent when seen in sunlight. Another common bird in this region is the snow pigeon, which swoops in great flocks above the villages of KJhumjung, Namche and Pangboche. The crow-like birds that scavenge unguarded bits of food are red-billed choughs and occasionally ravens. Sherpas call both birds goraks. Near Gorak Shep you are likely to see Tibetan snow cocks racing happily down the hillside. High above you may see goshawks, Himalayan griffons, golden eagles and lammergeiers circling on the updraughts from the mountains. In the early morning and just before dusk you may see musk deer, especially in the forests below Tengboche, leaping like kangaroos.

The few houses and the gompa of the tiny village Of Devuche are off’ in the trees to the west and the nunnery is up the hill to The east. From Devuche the level trail passes many mam walls in a deep rhododendron forest. Watch the leaves curl up in the cold and open in the morning when the sun strikes them. After crossing the Imja Khola on a steel bridge, swaying a terrifying distance above the river at a spot where the river rushes through a narrow cleft, the route climbs past some magnificently carved mani stones to Pangboche at 3860m. Just before the village are two chortens, a kani and a resting place. East of the chortens is a monument where you can see the footprint of the patron saint Lama Sange Doije preserved in stone.

Pangboche is the highest year-round settlement in the valley. The Pangboche gompa is the oldest in Khumbu and once contained relics that were said to be the skull and hand of a yeti. These items were stolen in 1991, so another chapter of the yeti legend continues unsolved.

Pangboche is actually two villages, upper and lower. On the way to the Everest base camp the lower route is best, but on the return trip, use the upper trail and visit the gompa, 120m above the lower village. There are five lodges in lower Pangboche, offering good choices for lunch.

During the summer the hillside is covered with wildflowers, including edelweiss. At Shomare there are a few teashops, then the trail passes several yak herders’ goths as it as cends on a shelf above the river to Orsho where there is a small lodge. Beyond Orsho the trail divides. The lower, more important looking trail leads to Dingboche while the trail to Pheriche goes up to the left, through the front yards of a few herders’ huts, over a stone wall and climbs a small ridge before descending to the Khumbu Khola, crossing it dn a wooden bridge. From the bridge it is 10-minute walk, usually in the wind, to Pheriche at 4240m. Pheriche is windier, and hence feels colder, than most places in Khumbu. Be sure to carry your warmest clothing on this day.

A trekkers’ aid post operates at Pheriche, supported by the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) and Tokyo Medical College. A Western physician is usually in attendance during the trekking season from March to mid-May and October to mid-December. This establishment, and the doctors who operate it, specialise in the study and treatment of altitude sickness and strive to educate trekkers in the dangers of too fast an ascent to high altitudes. The doctors give lectures every day ask at the clinic if you are interested. The aid post also lends books and sells HRA emblems, T-shirts and mani stones to raise money. Visit the clinic if you have even the slightest problem with altitude. Even though the doctors are volunteers, the HRA has considerable expenses.

Pheriche is a labyrinth of walls and pastures. There are five lodges, including the National Park Lodge, which is an on-off affair depending on who has the contract to run it. The biggest facility is Nima Tsering’s Himalayan Hotel, a two-storey place with a tin roof. Other lodges are semipermanent buildings that have evolved from mud huts with a tarp on the roof into more substantial structures that are forever expanding.

Be careful when you sit down in these crowded places – that comfortable-looking cushion in the comer is likely to be a baby wrapped in blankets. The Snow View Hotel has a mountaineering equipment shop. The usual jumble of new and used climbing equipment is for sale and there is often an unlikely collection of expedition food available, such as Bulgarian stews, Russian borscht, French snails or American granola bars – depending on which country recently mounted an Everest expedition.

Alternative Route: via Dingboche

Many trekkers prefer to trek through uing-boche as it’s a better base for acclimatisation hikes than Pheriche. The reason we recommend staying in Pheriche is because it’s more than 100m lower than Dingboche and the HRA facility is nearby in case of a severe altitude problem.

To reach Dingboche, stay on the large wide trail at the junction beyond Orsho, then descend to a bridge across the Khumbu Khola at 4130m. Climb about 45 minutes from the bridge to a crest and traverse to the lodges at Dingboche (4360m).

Dingboche is a more pleasant place than Pheriche, and the mountain views are but-standing, so many tourist facilities have recently been developed here. There are numerous large lodges, including Sona Hishi’s Sonam Friendship Lodge, which -according to Bob Peirce – plays Vivaldi as wake-up music.

Day 7: Acclimatisation Day in Pheriche

The most important key to acclimatisation to high altitudes is a slow ascent. Therefore it is imperative that you spend an additional night at Pheriche to aid the acclimatisation process. This is the second of the mandatory acclimatisation days on this trek.

You can spend the day in many ways. You may wish to declare a rest day and relax in camp or you may wish to do some strenuous exploring. It is a short hike to the small Nangkartshang gompa, a climb of about 400m above the village. From this vantage point there is a good view east to Makalu at 8463m it is the fifth-highest mountain in the world.

Side Trip: Chhukung

A more strenuous trip is to climb the hill to Dingboche, then hike up the Imja valley for another two hours past Bibre to Chhukung, a small summer settlement at 4730m. The views from Chhukung and further up the valley on the moraines towards Island Peak (6189m) are tremendous. The great south face of Lhotse towers above to the north, while Amphu Lapcha (a 5780m pass) and the immense fluted ice walls that flank it dominate the horizon to the south. To the south-west, the eastern face of Ama Dablam provides an unusual view of this picturesque peak. This hike is one of the highlights of the trek. It is a fast trip back down the valleypo Pheriche for the night.

Chhukung is the staging place for climbers attempting Island Peak. It’s also a good place to stay if you’re climbing Chhulung Ri, a 5546m rock outcrop offering splendid panoramas of Makalu, Ama Dablam and Baruntse (7220m). There are six lodge here, with Mingma Sherpa’s Chhukung Resort dominating the scence and the smaller Solu Khumbu, Sunrise anc Ama Dablam lodges offering alternatives.

Day 8: Pheriche to Duglha

2 hours, 400m ascent

The trail ascends the broad, gently sloping valley from Pheriche to Phalang Karpo at 4340m. In many places the trail crosses small streams on boulders. Look back down the valley from Phalang Karpo to see how much elevation you have gained. The views of Tawachee and Cholatse (6440m) are particularly good from this portion of the trail, which passes through country reported to be the habitat of the snow leopard and yeti. Ama Dablam is seen from a different aspect and is hardly recognisable. The true top of Kantega is visible far to the left of the prominent saddle seen from Tengboche. Beyound Phalang Karpo the trail climbs steeply onto the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier, then joins the trail from Dingboche and contours down to a stream, crossing it on a bridge just before Duglha (4620m). It’s possible to continue on to Lobuche, and many people do so, but the HRA doctors at Pheriche urge everyone to stay a night at Duglha to aid acclimatisation. The elevation gain of 700m from Pheriche to Lobuche is twice the recommended rate of ascent for a day. There is, however a dearth of accommodation in Duglha, although several new facilities are planned. The Yak Hotel is the largest lodge and the Pumori Lodge offers more basic facilities.

Day 9: Duglha to Lobuche

2-3 hours, 300m ascent From Duglha the trail goes directly up the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier for about one hour then turns left into a memorial area known as Chukpilhara. There is a row of stone monuments in memory of six Sherpas who died in an avalanche during the 1970 Japanese skiing expedition on Everest. There are many other monuments to climbers, mostly Sherpas, who have perished since then. Two new large chortens memorialise the American climber Scott Fischer, who died in the 19% Everest disaster, and Jangbu Sherpa, who was killed on Everest one year later.

The trail drops a bit and follows the western side of the valley to Lobuche, a summer village at 4930m that has become a major trekking stop. The Above the Clouds Lodge and the National Park Lodge are older facilities that have mostly dormitory accommodation. The newer lodges are the Sherpa Lodge and Alpine Inn. Across the stream is a new lodge that is part of the Himalayan Chain Lodge group. The sherpas and porters who accompany trekking groups further crowd the hotels when they come in for tea or rakshi (which can have a dramatic effect at this elevation).Everything is expensive in Lobuche. Prices are at least double those in Namche, but there is still a lot of variety thanks to expeditions that have jettisoned their supplies.

If you are travelling with a group, the sherpas will race ahead to stake out a good camp site and get the use of one of the two herders’ huts as a kitchen. You can almost always rely on finding food and accommodation (although it may be crowded) at Lobuche, but you will certainly need a warm sleeping bag – there is usually no bedding available and only a limited supply of mattresses. The toilet facilities are minimal and the mess this has caused is truly horrible. In contrast, the sunset on Nuptse, seen from Lobuche, is a memorable sight.

If you walk 20 minutes beyond Lobuche, you’ll reach the 8000 Inn (v 038-40126% just below the Italian Pyramid in a side valley at 5050m. This 23-bed facility charges US$15 per person (you can even pay by credit card) and you can make advance reservations at the Thamserku View Lodge in^Namche.

Day 10: Lobuche to Gorak Shep

2-3 hours, 250m ascent If you’ve been uncomfortable with the altitude or cold at Lobuche, you should seriously consider making a day trip to Kala Pattar and descending to Duglha for the night. It will be a strenuous seven- to nine-hour day, but you’ll feel much better once you descend.

The first section of the trail from Lobuche follows the western side of the broad Khumbu valley and ascends gently through meadows beside the glacial moraine. The ascent becomes steeper and rougher as it crosses several side moraines, although the trail is usually well defined. In places, however, an active glacier is under the moraine, so the trail is constantly changing. Route-finding techniques include looking for stone cairns as markers and watching for traces of yak dung – a sure sign of the correct trail.

After rounding a bend in the trail, the conical peak of Pumori comes into view. On the lower slopes of this mountain a ridge extending to the south terminates in a small peak. This peak, Kala Pattar, meaning ‘black rock’, is 5545m high and provides the best vantage point for viewing Mt Everest. Kala Pattar is actually a Hindi name. Legend has it that the late Dawa Tenzing accidentally named the peak when he accompanied Jimmy Roberts to the top. Roberts and Dawa Tenzing communicated in Hindi, not Nepali. You can easily make the ascent of Kala Pattar from Gorak Shep in the afternoon or the following morning.

The trail makes a short descent onto the sandy, flat expanse of Gorak Shep (5160m). This was the base camp for the 1952 Swiss Everest expedition. In 1953 the British Everest expedition called this ‘lake camp’. Gorak Shep has a small lake that is usually either dry or frozen and several monuments to climbers who have died during various Everest expeditions. The carved stone in memory of Jake Breitenbach of the 1963 US expedition and the monument for Indian ambassador H Dayal, who died during a helicopter visit to base camp after the 1965 Indian expedition, are north-east of the lake.

Most people reach Gorak Shep by lunchtime and spend the remainder of the day resting, but if you are not tired by the altitude, you can climb Kala Pattar or go to the base camp in the afternoon. There are two lodges at Gorak Shep near the lake: the Snow Land Inn and the Himalayan Lodge. The lodges sometimes shutdown during the coldest months from December to February, so it is best to inquire at Lobuche before counting on these facilities during winter.

It is impossible to explain the discomfort of high altitude to someone who hasn’t actually experienced it. Most people have an uncomfortable, often sleepless, night at both Gorak Shep and Lobuche, despite the extra time taken for acclimatisation. By descending 300m to Lobuche, or better yet, by descending further, to Pheriche, most people experience an immediate improvement.

Day 11: Gorak Shep to Lobuche

2 hours, 250m descent Mornings are usually sparkling clear, and the Kala Pattar climb is one of the most rewarding parts of the trip. It is a steep ascent of one or two hours up the grassy slopes west of Gorak Shep to a shelf at the foot of Pumori. Even from this low vantage point the entire Everest south face is visible as well as Lho La (the pass between Nepal and Tibet, from which George Leigh Mallory looked into Nepal in 1921 and named the Western Cwm), Changtse (the northern peak of Everest) and most of the West-Ridge route climbed by Unsoeld and Hombein in 1963. Those familiar with the accounts of expeditions to the Tibetan side of Everest will be able to spot the North Ridge and the first and second steps, prominent obstacles during the attempts on the mountain in the 1920s and 1930s. As you near the top of Kala Pattar, more of the peak of Everest itself comes into view, and a short walk north from the summit of Kala Pattar on the ridge towards Pumori will allow an unobstructed view all the way to the South Col.

The walk to base camp from Gorak Shep is about a six-hour return trip, possibly more unless an expedition in progress has kept the ever-changing trail in good condition. The route follows the Khumbu Glacier, sometimes on the moraine and sometimes on the glacier itself. The walk is especially intriguing for its views of the 15m-high seracs of ice, a feature peculiar to Himalayan glaciers.

Everest base camp is not actually a specific site. Various expeditions have selected different locations for a semipermanent camp during their assault on the mountain. Some of the sites expeditions have used as base camps are identifiable from debris on the glacier at 5360m or more. The trip to base camp, while fascinating, is not as spectacular as the ascent of Kala Pattar because there is no view of Everest itself from base camp.

It is difficult to go to both base camp and Kala Pattar in a single day. If you wish to do both, use the afternoon of the day at Gorak Shep for one trip and the next morning for the other. The exhaustion and lethargy caused by the altitude limit many people to only one of the possible options. The descent to Lobuche is easy, but seems endless because of the many uphill climbs from Gorak Shep. The night, however, will be much more comfortable than the previous one.

Day 12: Lobuche to Dingboche

3 hours, 600m descent To go to Dingboche, retrace your steps back to Duglha, then go straight up the hill from
the bridge to reach an upper trail, staying high above the valley floor. Trek past the yak pastures at Dusa to a chorten at the head of the Imja valley. The views from here are great. You can easily recognise Island Peak (Imja Tse) because its English name is an apt description. Makalu is the greenish-grey peak visible in the distance over the pass to the right of Island Peak. Descend from the chorten to Dingboche at 4360m, following the trail as it traverses east into the valley. The high pastures in this region are sometimes referred to as ‘summer villages’. Sher-pas with homes lower in the valley own small stone huts in the higher regions and occupy them in summer while their herds of yaks graze in the surrounding pastures. A few crops, especially barley, are also grown in these high fields. Dingboche is the only place in Khumbu where barley is grown. If you did not do so on the upward trek to Lobuche, you should spend a day hiking up the valley to Chhukung.

Day 13: Dingboche to Tengboche

2-3 hours, 550m descent, 70m ascent The route from Dingboche descends the Imja valley, then crosses the Khumbu Khola on a wooden bridge and climbs to rejoin the upward trail at some stone huts near Orsho. Following the trail downhill, it is easy to make a detour and visit upper Pangboche and the village gompa, then continue to Tengboche for the night. If you want to avoid the crowds below, you can choose from four lodges in upper Pangboche. While ascents at high altitudes must be slow, you may safely descend as fast as you wish.

Day 14: Tengboche to Namche Bazaar

4-5 hours, 750m descent, 350m ascent The route descends to Phunki Thanga, then ascends the ridge towards Namche Bazaar. The direct route to Namche turns south just above Sanasa, passes Kenjoma and traverses along the side of the ridge. This avoids a lot of climbing, but it’s a long walk in and out of side valleys. An alternative route through Khumjung allows a visit to either the Hotel Everest View or Sherpa villages before the
steep descent to Namche, but involves climb, ing an extra 200m. In Namche Bazaar you will have a last opportunity to buy (mostly) fake Tibetan jewellery from merchants who spread their wares alongside the trail through the village.

Day 15: Namche Bazaar to Lukla

5-7 hours, 950m descent, 250m ascent It’s a long walk from Namche to Lukla, but you are probably in good shape by now. If not, break the trip into two days with a night at Chomoa or Phakding.

From Namche, the steep descent back to j the Dudh Kosi at Jorsale is a bit rough on i the knees, but the warmer climate offers a good opportunity to finally shed down-filled jackets and woollen jumpers. Don’t lose your national park permit or pack it away you must check out of the park at Monjo and show the permit to prove that you duly paid for the use of the national park facilities. You should be at the airport at Lukla the afternoon before your flight to reconfirm reservations if you have these – your seats may vanish if you do not reconfirm. The trail from Jorsale to Lukla follows the upward route as far as Chablung, then turns off towards Lukla.

There are signs just south of the hotels in Chablung pointing you in the direction of Lukla. The broad trail leading uphill to the left climbs steadily past a few bhattis, then j through scrub forests above the school and houses of Chaunrikharka.

After a steep final climb there is a collection of houses and bhattis in Tamang  Tole, a new settlement a short distance from the airport. As you approach the Lukla airstrip (2800m) the houses and hotels rapidly proliferate. The trek from Lukla to Hile (see the Solu Khumbu to Hile trek, p336) becomes an attractive option because it avoids the confusion of the Lukla airstrip and explores some unusual country unlike any you have seen on this trek. The flight from Lukla to Kathmandu takes 35 minutes and is a jarring return to the noise, pollution, confusion and rush of  a large city.