Here are a few notes from a Three Passes trips done in November 2019.
I had joined a private group on the latter part of the Great Himalaya Trail.
Their blog is here https://www.thedahldiaries.com/
and a video herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Nt2d-
This was my 7th trip to the Himalayas, I am 62 and travelled with my 19 yo son.
Nepal is changing really quickly now, here are some general reflections
The Three Passes is not a difficult walk provided you give yourself plenty of time to acclimatise,
stay well and don't burden yourself with a whole lot of unnecessary gear.
All accommodation is in lodges which can be quite basic up to $100US plus night with all sorts of luxuries.
You should not need to carry more than 10 kilos.
The trail is well marked and often crowded with people walking in line, sometimes held up by tourist, porter, yak or mule jams.
There are small crowds at the tops of the passes.
This is not a wilderness or remote walk these days, the lodges are bustling and the whole of the Khumbu is prosperous and full of activity.
When the sky is clear there are many helicopters buzzing about.
The local communities and cultures are now diluted but the area is still spectacularly beautiful
and short of mountaineering the walk often represents a pinnacle of personal achievement.
Trekking in the Khumbu will soon resemble walking in the European alps.
There are some pressure points, Lukla is still often closed, Gorak Shep below Everest Base Camp can be a bit grim but on the whole people remain pleasant and honest, but do check your lodging bill.
Roads will soon make their way into the valley from below and perhaps from China over the Nangpa La then Thame..
So go soon.
Nepal is changing very fast with an emphasis on education and emigration
Consequently in prosperous areas most young people are studying in Kathmandu or a large regional town, leaving just children and older folks in the villages.
More remote villages are nearly empty.
Probably the most striking and distressing reflection is the very rapid rate of glacial retreat.
Small glaciers such as the one below the Cho La which, in 1979, was at least 200 hectares with a potentially lethal ice fall is now perhaps just 5 or 10 hectares, and will be completely gone within the next decade if not sooner.
By personal observation I can say that this is true all across Nepal.
These glaciers are at 5500 to 6000 meters altitude.
Cost wise we budgeted $50 Aus daily on the trail, this was enough but not generous.
Trail costs were accommodation, food , the occasional shower, the odd treat and costs of recharging our phones.
On the trail all payments were in Nepalese Rupees.
In 1979 my trail budget was $3 daily!
If you need a porter for some reason a reasonable cost is $20US/dayfollowed by a 50% tip on completion.
For personalised or more adventurous travel I would highly recommend Chhiree Sherpa from Best Nepal Trekking.
Over the years my family has spent nearly six months in the care of Chhiree
and he guided our recent GHT group.
Chhiree is the only guide to have led this long extreme route twice.
Here are Chhirees contacts:
So here are a few tips, I will put up some gear thoughts in the next post.
The most important thing is a slow acclimatisation, I really can't stress this enough,
sleep 300 meters higher each night and have plenty of rest days and a few spare days too.
I like the idea of two days in Namche, with a day trip up to the Japanese Hotel for tea on the verandah-,what a view!,
then across to Khumjung, an unaffected sherpa town, for a late lunch and the momastery with the yeti scalp.
And add in another acclimatisation day at the high point before your first pass,
at say Lungden below the Renjo La, or Chhukking below the Kongma La.
Gastro can ruin a trip. A severe episode can be highly debilitating.
Lots of hand washing with soap, hand sanitiser use, treat your water religiously with some form of sterilising tablet and think about what you are eating.
Get through Kathmandu fast and don't eat anything fresh or uncooked there.
Its distressing to pay inflated prices for phone charging, take a lead and a small solar charger.
WiFi is everywhere but charges can be high, get an Everest Link card in Lukla or Namche and make sure the date is long and it is regional rather than village based.
In Kathmandu we changed US dollars to local currency in 500 and 1000 rupee notes at the Thamel Money exchange (9841 965 623) who I recommend. They are just down a sidelane to the right about 100m down Jyatha Marg in Thamel. Do check the rates along the way.
Changing money back to $US can be problematic, technically it may not be legal,
but it is generally possible at good rates on days when the government inspectors are not around.
We bought some light mountaineering gear further down Jyatha Marg from the Everest Summiteers store
run by a sherpa family from the Rolwaling. The five brothers have summited Everest more than 50 times and their Guinness book of Records award is in the store.
We stayed long way out of Thamel in the sherpa quarter of town at the Shambala apartments in Faika 14 Kopan. Probably more sensible to stay in Thamel.
Travel insurance was from Covermore, I think, with rescue insurance (for some 6000m stuff elsewhere) from Global Rescue who are good for the more remote stuff. I don't think this is needed for the Three Passes.
Some gear notes for the Three Passes,
there is a link to a forum discussion here viewtopic.php?f=15&t=26693&p=388446#p388446
First of all check the temperature for the time of year you are travelling.
In November early mornings and nights were cold, down to minus 10 or 15C.
Day times were fine and sunny with no rain and no snow.
Keep your packweight under 10kg.
Take a few luxuries like chocolate and snickers.
Footwear: I used 3/4 shank leather lined boots, its a personal preference,
trail runners would be ok if there is no snow and your ankles are strong,
take something light for the lodges at night, crocks and sox are fine.
We fitted some rubber minicrampons just once over the Cho La,
they cost $15US in Kathmandu but could be bought in Namche or Lukla.
Gaiters were carried but not used but I had some cotton minigaiter/ankle guard things from Bunnings to keep the dust out of my boots.
I do recommend these.
A few of pairs of wool socks, two light and one heavy.
I walk in long sleeved collared cotton shirts to keep the sun off. just one,under this was generally an Aldi merino T shirt, two carried,
and sometimes an Aldi longsleeved zip collared rolled neck wool skivy.
Outside a 200wt fleece such as MacPac Tui.
Some long pants and one long Aldi merino wool, just two sets of underwearcarried.
I had a Mac Pac hooded Halo down jacket which was fine, Mac Pac tends to underrate their fill power, you can ask the staff to check the garment tag for the actual fill power. Mine was 700u.
A fleece beany that I could pull right down over my eyes while sleeping,
a good broad brimmed sun hat, I used something vented in cotton from OR.
Gloves and a light pair of liners, and sungloves too from the Cancer Council.
Light weight jackets and overpants are fine, they are needed but probably won't be used,
Good sunglasses but you do't need glacier glasses.
Good head lamp, a set of AAAs will last the whole trip but batteries are and toilet paper can be bought along the way.
The lodges all have LED lighting now. The rooms are dim.
My sleeping bag has a minus 7 rating and I used Sea to Summit Reactor liner.
Nights can be cold in the lodges.
I like walking poles.
A good water bottle is important, maybe two, I used a soft wide mouthed 1l HDPE from Nalgene.
Can double as a hot water bottle. Backed with a crunched up polyethylene soft drink bottle.
Don't buy bottled water, it creates a terrible waste problem.
Water filers can be problematic if they freeze, we used chlorine tablets which have improved over the years.
Take enough for 3 liters per day.
Factor 30 lip balm and sunscreen.
Plenty of hand sanitiser.
A small towel.
Small bar of soap and some washing detergent flakes.
Gear wise the standouts were the merino T shirts , the MacPac Tui fleeces and Halo jackets.
On the medical side, some antinflammatories like Mobic, some Nuromol for pain,
plenty of Imodium.
Prescription wise Ondansetron wafers for vomiting are great,
some Panadeine forte, some broad spectrum antibiotics for skin, chest and bladder.
maybe some ciproxin for bacterial gastro (traveler's diarhoea) but there is a lot of resistance now,
perhaps something old like Bactrim or something new like rifaxamin (Xifaxan)
Azithromycin seems to be the most recommended treatment antibiotic for travellers diarhoea just now.
Another option would be something new like rifaxamin (Xifaxan)
Diamox (acetozolamide) is really useful, half a tab two or three times a day for preacclimatisation
and mild mountain sickness symptoms, it makes your hands and lips tingle by changing the pH of your blood and making you breath up a little.
maybe some light sleepers like temazepam.
And of course some Flagyl (metronidazole) for giardia.
If there is a medico in the group or you are going to Island Peak I would also throw in some dexamethasone, nifedipine and Viagra(sildenafil)
which works really well for pulmonary hypertension which is the early stage of high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPO).
A slow acclimatisation is much more important then the rescue medications.
A Kindle and maybe a pack of playing cards
The smallest pack you fit your stuff in, maybe a silnylon microday pack for side trips and carrying stuff around in the lodges.
Something to put your money in, you will have rather a lot of Rupee notes.
All the rooms have keys and padlocks, you could take your own but its better to keep your valuables on your person
Anyway those are my thoughts.
Go enjoy yourselves.