Location ✦ Upper Khumbu
Region ✦ Everest National Park
Country ✦ Nepal
Length ✦ 57kms
Vertical drop ✦ 3375m
Max altitude ✦ 5360m
Difficulty ✦ D
Duration ✦ 5 days
Interest ✦ ★★★
Access to the place
Map & topo
Day 6 to Day 10
From Namche, it's a gradual ascent to Gorak Shep, the furthest hamlet in the Khumbu valley, at the foot of the Everest range. From here, we can climb to the promontory of Kala Patthar and reach Everest Base Camp, at the foot of the Everest Glacier. The planned itinerary was to take us via Kongma La, but weather conditions - snow and fog - made this option impossible. So we had to turn back and head for Lobuche on the classic trail.
Day 6: Namche - Tengboche 3860m
Day 7: Tengboche - Dingboche 4410m
Day 8: Dingboche - Chukhung 4660m
Day 9: Chukhung - Lobuche 4940m (Kongma La 5460m)
Day 10: Lobuche - Gorak Shep 5165m (EBC 5360m)
Day 6: Namche 3440m - Tengboche 3860m
10 kms, 750m d+, 450m d-, alt max 3860m
A short stage in terms of distance and elevation gain, but essential for further acclimatization. Exit Namche from the top and follow a wide, well-maintained path that follows the terrain and climbs gently up the valley. A few stupas along the way. We pass Sanasa at 3600m before descending to 3350m and crossing the Dudh Koshi at Phunki Thanga. From here, a gradual but steady 1h30′ climb through the forest. At the top, we're at 3860m. Here you can visit the Tengboche monastery. We can spend the night there or 15′ downhill to Deboche.
Day 7: Tengboche 3860m - Dingboche 4410m
10 kms, 680m d+, 80m d-, alt max 4410m
Once again a fairly short stage, we cross the 4000m mark. Easy trail through forest and along the Imja Khola river (tributary of the Dudh Koshi), which we cross further on. Then a gradual, step-by-step climb along the right bank. Passing 4000m, the vegetation changes and the forest has disappeared. The trail continues to climb in successive stages, finally reaching the village of Dingboche at 4410m, slightly above the river. From here, we're at the foot of Ama Dablam, with views of Cholatse and the summit of Lhotse at the end of the valley.
Day 8: Dingboche 4410m - Chukhung 4660m
4.5 kms, 415m d+, 5m d-, alt max 4660m
A short stage to finalize acclimatization before tackling the 5000m pass. The climb is very gradual on the stony, open slopes along the Imja Khola. The last village in the valley, Chukhung, is a natural starting point for the ascent of Island Peak. From here, you can also climb Chukhung Ri, which we didn't do, given the totally overcast weather...
Day 9: Chukhung 4460m - Lobuche 4940m
19.6 kms, 1050m d+, 850m d-, alt max 5050m
Once we'd started our ascent of Kongma La at 4am, snow and fog set in and we had to turn back at around 5000m. Retracing our steps to Chukhung and then Dingboche, the backup option B was to take the classic route back to Lobuche. 1h30′ to 2h easy to reach Tukhla. from there it's steeper to pass Tok La (4830m) and emerge onto a flatter area. There's a sort of cemetery here dedicated to the Everest expeditions that stayed there. The end is easier, along a small stream that leads to Lobuche for the night.
Day 10: Lobuche 4940m - Gorak Shep 5165m
13 kms, 480m d+, 440m d-, alt max 5360m
Little change in altitude to reach Gorak Shep in 2h to 2h30′, but we pass the 5000m mark and the crossing of a huge glacier forces us to make some up and downs that sting in the legs. We even pass 5200m before heading back down to Gorak Shep. From there, after a lunch break, we took the trail that goes even further up to Everest base camp at 5360m. It takes around 1h30′ to get there, skirting the impressive Khumbu glacier. The base camp almost touches a magnificent sculpted ice field that can be explored. The departure point for Lhotse and Everest is here, with dozens of tents sheltering expatriates waiting for the weather window that will allow the ascent. A place and atmosphere not to be missed. Back to Gorak Shep for the night in 1 hour.