Top 5 High Altitude Treks of Nepal

Top 5 High Altitude Treks of Nepal

When people talk about trekking in Nepal, there's one question on everyone's lips. How high did you go? That's more than just bravado – with Nepal's tortuous topography, altitude is something you have to think about every day. Trails in Nepal climb higher than the summits of the tallest mountains in Europe, and conquering the high passes of the Himalaya is a badge of honour for any hiker worth their hiking boots.

Part of the glory of trekking in the Himalaya is how high you can go – because of the latitude, the snowline starts higher than the summits of many mountains further away from the Equator. However, this is not an environment to be take lightly, as the events in Annapurna National Park on 12 October 2014 tragically demonstrated. Dozens of trekkers perished after blizzards struck the upper stages of the Annapurna circuit in Nepal's worst ever trekking disaster. On any trek, it is essential to make sure you are properly equipped for the conditions, that you tell people where you are going and when you will be back, and that you monitor the weather and seek shelter promptly if conditions deteriorate.

So, what is it like to cross a Himalayan pass? Well, put ideas of knife-edge ridges out of your mind. Most passes in the Himalaya involve a slow, sustained ascent on one side, and a slow, sustained descent on the other. The climb will test your lungs and muscles to breaking point; the descent will do the same to your knees. False ridges abound, so you'll think you've reached the top, only to have your hopes dashed as another soaring ridge looms ahead. But you can't miss the actual passes – just look for the strings of fluttering prayer flags, left by generations of past trekkers and their Sherpa guides.

Those who successfully conquer the high passes of the Himalaya can join the exclusive club of high-altitude trekkers, and participate in the conversations that buzz around the bars of Thamel in Kathmandu. How did you feel at the top? Did you get any symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)? Did you take Diamox? More valuably, you'll gain the satisfaction of pitting yourself against a mighty natural obstacle and overcoming all the physical and psychological hurdles put in your way. For that reason if no other, the high passes of Nepal deserve a special place in the trekking hall of fame.

1. Everest High Passes Trek

Everest High Passes Trek is one of the most authentic adventure trek in Everest facilitating the crossing of 3 different high passes which are not counted on the standard Everest trail, Renjo La (5,388m/17,513ft), Cho La (5,380m/17,650ft) and Kongma La (5,535m/18,159).

Everest Base Camp Trek via crossing three high passes is designed for adventurers. It is popular for its spectacular sceneries of surrounding mountains and the risk involved while crossing the glacieted crevasses. The continuous trekking/hiking on the mountains can be tiresome. After the long day of trek, the hospitality and service offered by the local inhabitants (Sherpa) can make your night pleasant.

The highlight of the trek is its three major passes which can be an experience of your lifetime. The Khumbu La pass is the highest pass among them. Cho La pass is an Icy and interesting glacier crossing of Ngozumpa before the pass, whereas, Renjo La pass is recently found by an experienced Sherpas. Conceding the trek at Kala Patthar (5,545m/18,192ft) will present you with the most fantastic panorama of surrounding Eight-Thousandeers (Pumori, Nuptse and Lhotse) and the closest sighting of Mt. Everest. This is a fusion of adventure and ethnic Himalaya culture at its best. Everest High Passes Trek

2. Ganja-La Pass Trek

The Ganjala pass is one of the most challenging passes in Nepal. This wedge in the Himalaya is situated at an altitude of 5160m. Our Langtang trek takes you over this pass as you make your way south from Langtang village which lies at 3500m and where the national park headquarters is located. The route from Gyang in Helambu, require crossing the 5106m Ganja La. The pass is blocked by snow, so local inquiries about its condition , good equipment and mountaineering experience are necessary for safe crossing.

The Helambu village excludes a Tibetan feel and you will see fields enclosed by stone walls as well as herds of yaks, the most important animal for the people here. From Tarke Gyang, we descend to Melamchi Khola before climbing to Pati Bhyanjyang, then trek down to Sundarijal, from here we drive back to Kathmandu. Ganja-La Pass Trek

3. Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

If you are looking for a truly remote and adventurous trekking experience, then Kanchenjunga is the trek for you! With its 8,586 m, Kanchenjunga is the world’s 3rd highest mountain, after K2 and Mount Everest. To the locals Kanchenjunga is not any mountain, but the abode of gods who bestow prosperity and goodwill.

Kanchenjunga is situated in far Eastern Nepal and lies within the 2,035 square kilometres Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. This part of Nepal has never been densely populated and neither has it ever received many trekking tourists. The area is therefore an absolute haven for many rare Himalayan species, including snow leopards, red pandas, and blue sheep. This trek delivers true pristine landscapes.

Via the 5,160 m Lapsang La pass the 4 week trek will take you through both the northern and southern base camp of Kanchenjunga. On the entire trail there will be stunning and remote mountain terrain because in addition to the Kanchenjunga peak, four subsidiary summits exceed 8000m and more than some twenty peaks exceed 7,000 m. Kanchenjunga Circuit Trek

4. Lumba Sumba Pass Trek

Lumba Sumba Trek is one of the new trekking routes identified and explored by Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) in 2012. Lumba Sumba Peak (5200m) is the major attraction of this route. Offering some of the most spectacular Himalayan landscapes, this trekking route is home to different ethnic groups like the Limbus, Sherpas, Rai, Gurung, Magars, Newars and Tamangs. The trek runs through Kanchenjunga Conservation Area (KCA) in the eastern Himalaya. Trekkers can explore the traditional farming practices and see different birds and wildlife species, including the endangered snow leopard and red panda, from the route. There are a number of high mountain lakes in Olangchung Gola. Through this route, we explore two of Nepal’s best preserved protected areas – the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area and the Makalu Barun National Park. Through the route, one can also trek to the base camps of Mt Kanchanjunga and Mt Makalu. Similarly, the Tamor and Arun River systems are the other attraction. These two rivers are the major tributaries of the mighty Sapta Koshi River. The route encompasses alpine grass lands, rocky outcrops, dense temperate and sub-tropical forests, and low river valleys. Apart from natural beauty, trekkers can also explore cultural heritage like monasteries, chhortens, temples and prayer walls. And to add to the flavor, the festivals of all of these people living in harmony only serve to make the native culture livelier. Lumba Sumba Pass Trek

5. Upper Dolpo to Jomsom Trek

There is a mysterious Tibetan region in western Nepal. It's called Dolpo. Tibetans live in it trudniacy for centuries by the Himalayan hearse carrying the yaks with salt from Tibet and grain from the south of Nepal. Region was completely inaccessible to foreigners until 1996 and is virtually closed to outsiders today.

Dolpo region is called the last enclave of Tibetan culture, where religion and customs resemble those of Tibet before the Chinese invasion. By 1996, foreigners were banned from traveling to the Upper Dolpo, which helped preserve the cultural uniqueness of the region. To this day, the condition for getting to Upper Dolpo is organized, almost self-sufficient expedition, having a costly permit the Nepalese authorities. Cost to permit the entrance to Upper Dolpo is U.S. $ 500 per person for the first 10 days and a further U.S. $ 50 per person for each additional day.

Dolpo is a region of Tibetan Buddhism, the 700 year old monastery of Shey at the helm. Twice a year, the Pilgrims held a religious pilgrimage "bark" around Crystal Mountain - also known as the younger brother of Mount Kailash in Tibet. Dolpo is also one of the few places in the world where pre-Buddhist Bon shamanic religion is still alive. Region Dolpo was first described in 1961 by David Snelgrove in the book "Himalayan Pilgrimmage". In 1978 he was re-estimated in a book by Peter Matthiessen, "The Snow Leopard" to get publicity recently Eric Vallis film "Himalaya" 1999.

The region is a natural wildlife refuge: the blue sheep, deer, Himalayan foxes, marmots, eagles, vultures, the rarest big cats - snow leopards. Trail from Lower Dolpo, Upper Dolpo through to Jomsom is a part of "The Great Himalaya Trail" (GHT) - routes running through the highest Himalayas of Nepal, from the border with Sikkim in the east to the border with China and India to the west. Upper Dolpo to Jomsom Trek

Associated With:

  • Government of Nepal
  • Nepal Tourism Board (NTB)
  • Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN)
  • Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA)
  • Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP)

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