Khumbu Three Pass Trek, Nepal

Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal,prayer flags,stupa

In October and November of this last year, Claudia and I fulfilled lifelong dreams to trek in the mighty Himalaya of Nepal – the world’s biggest mountains. We spent 20 days trekking the so-called “Three Pass Trek” over three high passes and through the four major valleys of the Khumbu/Everest region. Of course everybody knows about Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, but often overlooked is the fact that Everest is just one of many other enormous, spectacular mountains in this range. It’s a dream destination for mountaineers and trekkers alike.

Join me here as I share some highlights and snapshots from our three week trek through these magnificent mountains!

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Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla.

The adventure begins with a gripping flight to Lukla, a Sherpa village with a mountainside airstrip, often listed as the most dangerous airport in the world.


View of the cockpit during flight from Kathmandu to Lukla.

We board a rickety old worn-out airplane in Kathmandu, fly along the Himalaya, pass right over soaring mountain ridges, then swoop down into a deep valley towards the tiny airstrip. There’s only one shot at a landing — no circling around for a second try here!


Approaching Lukla. Prepare for [hopefully] landing!

Sooner than expected, trees are flying past the airplane window, the roar of the propellers echoes off the fast approaching ground, and suddenly the plane is rolling up the runway. The passengers erupt in applause, knowing that surely we’ve all narrowly escaped death. It all felt like a roller coaster — but a roller coaster with no guarantee of survival.

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Happy to be alive after successfully landing at Lukla.

The harrowing flight into Lukla is a shortcut that saves five days of strenuous trekking through the foothills from Jiri — something that every visitor once had to do before the airstrip was built. Although I’ve heard that the trek through the foothills is very much worthwhile, I must admit it was nice to get right to it in Lukla.

Himalaya,Khumbu,Lukla,Nepal, airport

An airplane prepares to take off from the mountainside launch ramp that is the Lukla airport.

Our guide Bismu (who we had hired via a trekking agency in Kathmandu) was waiting there for us at the airport. In Nepal it is very common for trekkers to hire guides and/or porters. Bismu is a guide/porter, so he carried a spare bag of ours and also led the way and helped us to find a lodge every evening.

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The Khumbu region is the home of the Sherpa people, who have been living in these valleys and mountains for hundreds of years. The Buddhist influence is everywhere to be seen; carved prayer stones, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels adorn the trails, especially in this lower valley.

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Village of Phakding.

The valleys of the Khumbu are dotted with little Sherpa villages, which traditionally were occupied by farmers and shepherds but have increasingly become more tourism-based, to house and feed the thousands of trekkers that flow through each year. So this is not so much a wilderness trek, but rather a cultural trek. Tents and camping are not necessary whatsoever; each night is spent in a village “teahouse” — a lodge that provides meals and a basic room to sleep in. The teahouses even have menus; mostly variations of fried rice and fried noodles, momo dumplings, or the ubiquitous dal bhat, a delicious all-you-can-eat Nepali meal of rice and lentils with curry.

Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal,stupa, Thamserku

Even during the first days of hiking up the Dudh Koshi valley, the power and immensity of the mountains here is clearly apparent. In the photo above, the snowy peak Thamserku rises over 12,000 vertical feet above the river! That’s more than twice the depth of the Grand Canyon!

Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal, prayer stones


I loved this sign at the official gateway to Sagarmatha National Park, which says: “While visiting this special area, visitors are encouraged to: 1) Refrain from taking life, 2) Refrain from anger, 3) Refrain from jealousy, 4) Refrain from offending others, 5) Refrain from taking excessive intoxicants. Enjoy your visit!”

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Crossing a high bridge over the Dudh Koshi, on the way to Namche Bazaar.
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A stupa at the entrance to Namche Bazaar.

The second day of hiking from Lukla brought us to Namche Bazaar, a Sherpa village perched at 3440m /11,286 ft elevation in a basin high above the Bhote Koshi gorge. This is the main trading and tourist hub of the Khumbu region, and a wonderful place to relax and spend a few days acclimatizing to the altitude.

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We had heard about the famous bakery in Namche, and it was as good as everyone had said! Nepalis have got baking down. Good coffee too.

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Galaxy Over Namche Bazaar : Prints Available

Namche Bazaar at night.

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First major views of Mt. Everest (far left) and Ama Dablam (right).

We had a “rest” day in Namche Bazaar but actually spent most of the day doing a loop hike to the nearby village of Khumjung and back. On this hike we got our first views of the higher mountains where we’d be heading soon.

The town of Khumjung, where people are busy sticking yak dung on the stone walls, to dry in the sun and later be used as fire fuel for warmth and cooking.
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The Buddhist monastery in Khumjung houses a well guarded yeti scalp.
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Prayer wheels at the monastery in Khumjung.
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Lunchtime in a quiet teahouse in Khumjung.
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A monument to Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, and who has also contributed much to the Khumbu people including founding the school here in Khumjung.
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Hiking deeper into the Khumbu, with Thamserku (6608m / 21,680 ft) towering overhead.

A typical day of hiking here is only about 4-6 hours. The reason for the fairly slow and steady pace is to allow your body time to acclimatize to the high altitudes, which just get progressively higher and higher as the trek goes on. People who try to rush through here run a serious risk of developing altitude sickness.

A Buddhist mural greets arrival at Tengboche.

After Namche Bazaar our next destination was Tengboche, the site of an important Buddhist monastery.

An ornate gateway entrance to the Buddhist monastery at Tengboche.
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Tengboche Night : Prints Available

Ama Dablam and the Buddhist monastery at Tengboche.

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Ama Dablam towering over Pangboche village.

Although Mt. Everest gets all the fame and glory, in reality it is a shy, unattractive hulk that sits aloof and hidden from most perspectives. The real star of the show here is Ama Dablam, a beautiful, symmetrical spire that dominates the view for much of the trek.

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A porter hauls a mattress to another village.

No Khumbu trip report would be complete without the obligatory picture of a porter hauling an insanely huge load. The porters are the backbone (no pun intended) of life in the Khumbu, as they are the ones who haul all the outside food and supplies into the mountains. In a Nepal economy with nearly 50% unemployment rates, it’s no wonder why there are so many porters willing to hump double loads high into the mountains. Sadly it’s oftentimes just big boxes of soda for the tourists.

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Smoke from yak dung ovens pours out of a teahouse in Pheriche.
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Taboche Peak Sunset : Prints Available

Clouds swirl around Taboche Peak (6367m / 20889 ft) at sunset.

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Hiking across the valley from Ama Dablam.

Before embarking on this trek, I had done a lot of research into potential off-the-beaten-track vantage points for unique photo opportunities. One such spot was an obscure high lake with a front-and-center view of Ama Dablam. I dreamt of a sunset reflection shot of Ama Dablam from here, and decided I would try my best to pursue it. It would be the shot of the trip if all the factors lined up. But first I had to get there, which was no small feat. When I finally arrived at the 17,000-foot lake in the afternoon, I was pleased to see that the lake was not frozen! Good first step. Unfortunately, though, the clouds had rolled in by then, completely obscuring the view.

But I bundled up in all my down clothes and sat up there in the clouds and snow waiting for sunset, with some small hope that maybe the clouds would clear in time. To my astonishment and elation, right before sunset the clouds started breaking apart, revealing glorious glimpses of the snowy peak of Ama Dablam!

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Ama Dablam Clouds : Prints Available

Ama Dablam (6856m / 22,493 ft) emerges from the clouds.

Soon the clouds were really clearing off, swirling about Ama Dablam in a sublime spectacle.

Thamserku Mist : Prints Available

Thamserku (6608m / 21,680 ft).

Then even more miraculously, the wind died down and the lake started to settle out like a mirror. I ran back down to the lake and gleefully started shooting some reflection photos of the giant surrounding peaks.

Ama Dablam,Asia,Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal, Makalu
Ama Dablam Alpenglow Reflection : Prints Available

Alpenglow light illuminates Ama Dablam. Makalu (8481m, 27,825 ft) is visible at the left side.

I kept shooting through sunset and twilight time; in fact my favorite light in the Himalaya is the post-sunset twilight, when the sky darkens to a deep blue but the peaks still glow brightly with atmospheric light. Needless to say, I felt like a kid on Christmas to be able to photograph the scene above. Lucky, lucky. I worked my way back down in the darkness with a headlamp on my head and perma-grin on my face!

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Hiking into the village of Dingboche.
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Stupa Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset over Dingboche.

At Dingboche in the middle of the night we were woken up by some booming noises from outside and wondered what it was — rockfall? Looking out the window we could see flashes of lightning, but it was happening below us, way down in the lower valley, while the stars shined brightly above! That’s how big these mountains are…

Ama Dablam,Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal,prayer flags, Dingboche
Ama Dablam Morning : Prints Available

Ama Dablam at sunrise, as seen from high above Dingboche.

I woke up early that morning to hike up a mountain above Dingboche for sunrise. Again, I found myself in the clouds and snow, this time in darkness with no idea what the weather was doing around me. But I kept going, despite my nearly frozen toes. After a few hours of hiking I started to lose hope and was debating turning around when I noticed a prayer flag pole up ahead and realized I was just a few meters from the top! So up I continued, and yet again to my delight the clouds descended into the valley below me right before sunrise!

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Taboche Morning : Prints Available

Taboche and Cholatse on a frigid October morning.

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Relaxing on a teahouse patio in the village of Chhukhung (elevation 4730m / 15,518 ft.) with Ama Dablam overhead.

The next stop: Chhukhung, a small village at an elevation of 4730m / 15,518 ft. Our teahouse there had a big patio with a mind-boggling view of Ama Dablam soaring directly above!

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Ama Dablam Stream : Prints Available

The north side of Ama Dablam at dawn, as seen from Chhukhung.

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The northeast side of Ama Dablam.

We spent another “rest” day hiking up to the Imja Tsho lake near Island Peak base camp, through an otherworldly valley surrounded by heavily glaciated peaks, including of course the ever-present Ama Dablam.

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A cold outhouse, but a nice view!
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Leaving Chhukhung.

Feeling quite fit, strong, and acclimatized by this point, we faced the first big pass of the trek — over the Kongma La.

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Hiking up the Kongma La, with Ama Dablam behind.
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Hikers crossing the Kongma La.
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Almost at the top of Kongma La at 5535m / 18,159 ft.
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Some frozen lakes on the rock-covered Khumbu Glacier.

We made it over the Kongma La pass just fine, but after that we still had to cross the Khumbu Glacier to get to Lobuche, the next village. Easier said than done. The cairned route across the rock covered glacier meanders up and down endlessly and became quite an unexpected chore after having crossed the big pass already. Dehydrated and exhausted, we finally made it to Lobuche then promptly both got sick.

The infamous “Khumbu Cough”. In most of the higher elevation villages, you’ll be sitting in the dining room at the teahouses, and half the people there are hacking up a lung. Despite all our precautions (including a daily regimen of vitamins and probiotics), we both caught a nasty cold and were laid out for a day in Lobuche. Fortunately we were able to keep going after only one day out of commission, although the cough and phlegm would stick with me for the remainder of the trek.

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Hiking towards Pumo Ri (7165m / 23,507 ft.)
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Pumo Ri stands tall high above the village of Gorak Shep (elevation 5125m / 16,814 ft.) Gorak Shep is the last village before Everest Base Camp. Kala Patthar is the little brown “hill” in front of Pumo Ri.

At 5125m / 16,814 ft, Gorak Shep is the highest village on the trek and the last outpost before Everest Base Camp. Although the daytime temperatures are surprisingly warm, the nights at this altitude are frigid in the unheated rooms. Waking up was always the hardest part of the day, having to get out of the cozy sleeping bag and get dressed in the freezer box of a room.

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Jack and Claudia on Kala Patthar; Everest behind.

The goal of most trekkers’ trips here is to visit Everest Base Camp, where in the spring months there is a huge tent city full of ambitious climbers. But during the months of October and November, despite the typically stable and clear weather, the temperatures and wind chill are just too harsh to climb Everest. With base camp being virtually empty we decided to pass on that and just hike Kala Patthar instead.

Kala Patthar is a sub-peak of Pumo Ri, and at 5540m / 18,176 ft. it offers the must-see classic view of Mt. Everest and Nuptse.

Himalaya,Kala Patthar,Khumbu,Mt. Everest,Nepal,Nuptse
Everest Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset light on Mt. Everest (8850m / 29,035 ft), the tallest mountain in the world, as seen from Kala Patthar (5540m / 18,175 ft). The pointy mountain in the center, which only appears bigger due to perspective, is Nuptse (7861m / 25,791 ft).

This was a view I knew I wanted to photograph at sunset. And again, I was so lucky with the timing, scoring beautiful clear weather and sublime sunset light. (The days before and after this were all clouded up at sunset). Time and time again on this trek I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was with the weather conditions and photography opportunities!

Himalaya,Kala Patthar,Khumbu,Mt. Everest,Nepal,Nuptse, Ama Dablam, panorama
Kala Patthar Panorama : Prints Available

Panorama of Mt. Everest, Nuptse, and Ama Dablam, as seen from Kala Patthar.

With all the legend and lore of Mt. Everest, it felt surreal and wonderful to actually be sitting there gazing at the tallest mountain on the planet. A dream come true for me, really. And again I have to point out the scale here, as the defining characteristic of the Himalaya is the mind-blowing size and scale of the mountains here. Consider that I’m sitting here on a peak that’s 18,175 feet tall. And Mt. Everest is 29,035 feet tall! I already feel like I’m super high up, and I’m staring directly up at a mountain that is eleven thousand feet higher!

Himalaya,Kala Patthar,Khumbu,Mt. Everest,Nepal,Nuptse
Everest Dusk : Prints Available

Mt. Everest and Nuptse at twilight, as seen from Kala Patthar.

Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal, hiking, Kangtega
Hiking in the Himalaya.

Satisfied with out time at Gorak Shep and Kala Patthar we made our way back down and around to Dzonglha. We decided to spend another rest day here — an actual rest day — in order to relax, regain some energy, and hopefully recover from the tenacious cold that we caught back in Lobuche. It was also in Dzonglha that we took the most expensive hot showers ever — eight dollars a piece! Had I known the price beforehand I would have just remained stinky.

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Hiking below spectacular Cholatse (6335m / 20,784 ft).

The stretch of trail to Dzonglha might be the most spectacular of the entire trek, with views of Ama Dablam and Cholatse towering straight above.

Lobuche Reflection : Prints Available

The huge mountain walls near Lobuche reflect in a small pond as the clouds break up.

I found a small lake not so far from Dzonglha which offered great reflection photos of Cholatse and the surrounding mountains.

Cholatse Blues : Prints Available

Reflection of Cholatse.

Cholatse Reflection : Prints Available

Twilight glow above Cholatse (6335m / 20,784 ft).

On clear evenings in the Himalaya, maybe fifteen minutes or so after sunset, there is this incredible magenta light that illuminates the sky. I know it’s popular for photographers nowadays to process all their sunset photos to create this kind of artificial overly-magenta sky glow; but here in the Himalaya it actually looks like this. For real.

Cho La Pass,Dzonglha,Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal, hiking
Hiking from Dzonglha towards Cho La.

We departed Dzonglha for Cho La, the second big pass of the trek, at a height of 5330m / 17,487 ft. Although not technically difficult, it’s quite a long hike to the village of Dragnag on the other side.

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Hikers on Cho La with Cholatse behind.
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Hiking across the Ngozumba Glacier; Cho Oyu (8188m / 26864 ft ), the sixth highest mountain in the world, in the background.

After hiking over Cho La, and a night in Dragnag, we crossed the Ngozumba Glacier — another huge rock-covered valley glacier — and continued up to the village of Gokyo.

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High altitude painting at Gokyo.

Gokyo is situated between the beautiful turquoise Dudh Pokhari lake and the massive glacial moraine wall of the Ngozumpa Glacier.

Cholo,Himalaya,Khumbu,Nepal,Ngozumba Glacier
A view of Cholo (6089m) from the Ngozumpa Glacier.

We spent another rest day hiking to more lakes further up along the Ngozumpa Glacier.

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Looking down the Ngozumpa Glacier.
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Gokyo Moon : Prints Available

Moon over the Himalaya, as Mt. Everest catches the last glow from the sun, long after sunset.

We hiked up nearby Gokyo Ri at 5360m / 17,585 ft. to witness another glorious sunset over the Himalaya. Long after sunset, when there’s even a few stars out, Everest still catches rosy red light from the atmosphere.

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Hiking up Renjo La.

Renjo La was the third and final pass of the trek, and perhaps the most spectacular of all with an awesome view of Everest and company the whole way.

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Hiking over Renjo La (5360m / 17,585 ft), with Mt. Everest behind.
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Mt. Everest as seen from Renjo La.
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Our trusty guide Bismu!
Between Renjo La and Thame.

Hiking down Renjo La and into the valley of Thame felt like the beginning of the end of the trek. We had crossed all our passes and hiked to all our highest points, the initial excitement was gone, and now we were on our way down.

The village of Thame.
A stupa near Thame.
The view from the backyard of Apa Sherpa’s teahouse in Thame. Apa Sherpa has climbed Everest 22 times — more than anybody else in the world. He even had all his Guiness World Record certificates hanging inside.
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Namche Bazaar.

Having completed somewhat of a loop, we passed back through Namche Bazaar and enjoyed one more night there.

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A view of Namche Bazaar in the moonlight from our teahouse room window.

At dinner I made sure to order a yak sizzler as a congratulatory feast. When that steak came out on the sizzling hot iron platter, you know everyone in the whole teahouse was looking my way (somewhat jealously, I think I detected). πŸ˜‰

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All that was left was to hike a couple days back down the Dudh Koshi, back the way we came, to catch our flight out of Lukla. It was a bittersweet hike, somewhat shell-shocked from all the huge mountains we had just spent three weeks amongst, but also looking forward to the luxuries of civilization in Kathmandu again.


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Cappuccinos and black forest cake at the “Starbucks” in Lukla.

P.S. – As a sort of disclaimer as I wrap up this trip report, I must say that it is incredibly difficult to distill three weeks worth of novel experiences into a one page trip report. Especially frustrating is the fact that there are huge gaps in my photographic documentation of the trip; namely, the glaring absence of people, both Nepalis and fellow trekkers. While some trip reports might represent a full memory of the experience as a whole, in this case a large portion of my experience — including the wonderful people and the rich culture — is missing. For those of you who might have the impulse to go trek in the Khumbu yourself, you can take heart in the fact that you will see and experience a whole lot more than what you’ve seen here! Try to photograph that for me.

P.S.S. – Since I know the question will be asked, most of the hiking photos here were taken handheld with a Sony A6000 camera with 16-70mm Sony/Zeiss zoom lens. Most of the “prints-available” landscape photos were taken on a tripod with a Sony A7R with Canon tilt-shift wide-angle lenses or a Contax/Zeiss 35-70mm lens.

P.S.S.S. – If you are wondering what trekking guide agency we used, I’m sorry but there are so many guiding agencies in Nepal that it is nearly impossible to recommend one over the other. The good news is that it’s very easy to just show up in Kathmandu and figure it out. We simply went to an agency’s office in Kathmandu (there are many) and they lined up our guide/porter for us and booked our plane tickets to Lukla. That was all! This was all done without problem only two days prior to our trek. The guide was already in Lukla and met us there; he gets contracted out by numerous agencies. In my opinion there’s no need to book a tour package type of thing in advance, unless perhaps you have a big group of people to organize.

56 thoughts on “Khumbu Three Pass Trek, Nepal

  1. Have been waiting quite a while to see these Jack, and I wasn’t disappointed! What a trip! My early favorite photo is “Hiking in the Himalaya” with Claudia hiking down a path toward a spectacular view in front of her. Somehow it has a sense of scale that I can try to appreciate. Thanks for all your work bringing these sights back to us Jack.

  2. You made wanting more to do a trek in Nepal someday, Jack. πŸ™‚
    You captured some very beautiful mountainscapes there!
    Some of my favorites are:
    “Hiking across the valley from Ama Dablam”, “Ama Dablam Stream”, “Cholatse Blues”, “Hiking from Dzonglha towards Cho La”

  3. Beautiful images Jack! Really enjoyed your trip reports from here.

    This made me chuckle :). ” but here in the Himalaya it actually looks like this. For real.”

  4. I’ve been waiting to see these for a while and as always, absolutely amazing shots Jack!

    (Nepal was topping my list for a Fall 2016 trip and I think you just solidified it as the definite winner for me!)

  5. Jack, thank you for sharing your trip report. The images of the mountains especially taken during sunsets and twilight are simply awesome ! Would you mind sharing the name of the Trekking company whose services you utilized ? Also, do they have a website which provides a listing of all services they provide? Thanks much for your inputs.

    1. Thank you Swapnil! I don’t really have a solid recommendation for a guide company. In Kathmandu there are many many different trekking agencies you can choose from. (Btw, I updated the end of this post to include some of this info).

  6. Jack,

    Words can’t describe your post. This was an amazing layout of your trip. Absolutely beautiful photos. Your storytelling is perfect.
    Question, what kind of distance did you hike day to day? Did you mostly sleep in a tent or hut? What was the highest elevation you crossed?
    Thanks for the post,

    Rob Jaudon

    1. Thanks Rob! Sounds like you didn’t read the post… lol… πŸ˜‰ Well, to summarize: 4-6 hours of hike each day, all in huts, highest elevation was Kala Patthar at 5540m / 18,175 ft.

  7. Jack and Claudia this was a fabulous trip for you. I have reviewed the images in awe of your adventures. I’m currently in Heber, UT but back in Montrose in April sometime. Look forward to connecting and Jack we will discuss my new website.

    Joyce and I have loved the posts of your travels to Nepal area and Germany.


      1. Jack do that … 303-304-7791. Email: or kevin@kevinparksphotography. We are staying in the Mountain View RV Resort, 1 mile south of the 189/40 split. West side of road. We’re on the West side of the resort in the Entegra Cornerstone Motor Coach. My Toyota 4Runner (Yakima on top) and F-150 parked next to motor coach. Cache or Judy at the front desk can point you in our direction.

        Park City has poor snow this year. We haven’t skied as much as planned.

        Hope we get to see ya.

  8. I stumbled upon your blog while researching 5 day loop hikes in the San Juans, as a shakedown trip for a long section hike of the Colorado Trail this summer for our honeymoon (we live in Denver). BUT…wow! I’ve been on here for almost two hours now, admiring all the incredible photos of some of my favorite places…some I’ve already been to, some are still on the list! What beauty you have capture. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing it all, and I look forward now to following your adventures!

    1. Hi Jackson, no I didn’t talk much with the man except to ask if it was ok to take his photo. But, he was Nepali, so definitely not Tony Foster! Also quite a different painting style. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the link though…. nice work.

  9. Stunning pictures, great trip report! I planned exactly the same trek for 2014 autumn (just opposite direction) but had to cancel due to health issues. I hope I could make it next time! I planned to take the Olympus E-M5 or A6000 with me (I prefer the E-M5 though for very good lenses).
    How do you find the combination of Sony A6000 + 16-70 Zeiss? I could clearly see the A7R pictures being much better, crispier even from this smaller picture view. Is it mostly the monofocal lenses, full frame sensor or more post production spent on these “prints available” pictures? I still wonder how much would I gain if I go for A7 over A6000/E-M5 with similar lenses. With your pictures I see the gain is huge, but would it be with similar lenses too?
    Many thanks for your kind reply!

    1. Hi Michal, I’m sorry you had to cancel your 2014 trek; hopefully you can go another time, it’s an awesome place!

      Honestly I don’t think there’s any detectable difference in the A7R and A6000 files at this tiny web size. Probably what you’re seeing is that most of the A7R shots were taken in the good/interesting light, while the A6000 are mostly daytime snapshots; thus the perceived quality difference.

      That said, there is indeed a big difference in quality between these two cameras. The A7R produces much higher and more detailed resolution, as well as much better dynamic range resulting in noticeably clearer and cleaner image files. Plus, as you mentioned I am using much higher quality lenses on the A7R, which aids both in resolution and overall image quality.

      The A6000 + 16-70mm lens is nice for what it is — a convenient, compact, and lightweight “travel” camera, used handheld (with image stabilization). The lens is not really a top performer so I wouldn’t rely on it as my primary landscape camera. I had to buy and return two copies of the 16-70 lens before I got one with decent optical quality (the previous two were obviously optically flawed and should not have made it through Sony’s quality control — if such a thing exists for that lens).

      Hope that helps!

  10. Many thanks for your reply Jack!
    You are right about the different light on the pictures from A7R, I didnt realize it when reading your article πŸ™‚
    I see that your strategy is to have one camera handy with all-around lens and second camera with top quality fixed focal lenses in the backpack with your tripod. I couldnt see myself taking the camera out from the backpack very often πŸ™‚ But like that you only use your A7R when it is really worth it, am I right?
    I have the same opinion about 16-70, it is a very nice lens but not a top performer and the quality can differ a lot (similar with Zeiss 24-70). From the E-mount line maybe the 10-18 is one of the top lenses available (but there is not much else to choose from).
    Have you tried the Sony primes FE-mount line? Do you think they are comparable to the ones that you use for mountain landscape photograpy? I am keeping fingers crossed for Sony or Sigma to come with a decent and compact set of lenses for FE. I hope they will be sharp enough so that it is really worth to drag them around the world to such beautiful places as Himalayas are.

  11. Hi Jack,

    Inspirational report and great work as always!

    I was wondering how you experienced all the different kind of permits which are required to visit the Everest region and trekking in Nepal in general. Did you get them all when visiting the travel agency and was everything set? I know you must have a Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) Card with you (before the trek) and you must pay entrance fee (during the trek) for the Sagarmatha National Park. I also read, one only 1 site though, it is not allowed to go alone as a tourist without a guide (and I’m not talking about climbing, just trekking) but I can understand you don’t know the answer as you went together with a guide.

    Anyway, keep inspire us and thx for any info you could share!


    1. Hi Max, our agency who arranged our guide also arranged all the permits. Very easy. Also, it is definitely possible to go without guide; we know and saw many trekkers who did this. In this case you’d just have to arrange your permits in Kathmandu, which also would be very easy. There are many travel agencies that will help with any degree of arrangements, whether it’s just permits, or a fully guided trek.

  12. Hi Jack,

    I have another question, I hope you don’t mind. Have you seen many dogs along this trek? I was wondering that to determine the need for pre causions regarding rabies.

    Cheers, Max

    1. Oh and I forgot to add: Did you drink the water in the mountains? And if so with or without tablets. I normally never use tablets when in the mountains but I read you have to when ”visiting the Himalayas”

      Cheers, Max

  13. Beautiful pics! I leave for my EBC in 14 days! Crazy. I have the a6000 with the 16-70. I’ve thought about the A7r. I’d like to just take one lens. I have a Canon P&S for those random less important pics as you talk about. How do you find the a6000 vs the a7r as far as carrying? They look to be pretty close in size? How much better do you think the A7r would be using the same 16-70 lens? Worth the extra cost, weight and size? How did the batteries on them do for you up there?

    1. Hi John,
      The two cameras are somewhat similar size, but with the A7R you’ll probably need bigger, better lenses. I don’t think that the 16-70 lens will cover the full-frame A7R sensor, and even if it did, it most certainly won’t provide the sharpness necessary to resolve for the 36mp sensor. The A7R is a far superior camera, but it requires top notch lenses to really make the most of it. The 16-70 is a good match for the A6000, but I wouldn’t call it a top notch lens by any means.
      Have fun in the Himalaya!

      1. Thanks for the reply. The newer 24-70 seems to be a popular lens on the A7r. Of course getting that and the A7r somewhat negates the lightweight a6000 that I got mainly for its lightweight travel size and makes it heavier than the small Canon Rebel SL1 that I wanted to go lighter than. I guess its a matter of how good of pics you want compared to how much you mind carrying…

  14. Sorry we missed you in Kathmandu last October. It looks like YOU had all the weather luck, while Rich V and I got a bit skunked – especially by that big storm that blasted through and killed our jaunt to base camp on the Tibet side. Awesome shots and a fantastic experience I now wish to try!!! Rock on, Jack!

  15. fantastic and more so great photos. I attempted on doing the same trek in March 2015 however the weather played a part and had to cut my trek in half. Non the less I did manage to go to Labuche and Scale Island peak, I had an amazing experience.

    Looking at your bog brought back so many great memories so much so that I’m now planning on going back and re attempting the three high passes of Khumbu and climbing two peaks.

    Also planning on taking a good camera with me ?

    Thanks you for the inspiration


  16. Hi Jack,

    awesome photos, truly spectacular – they’ve formed part of our inspiration to go do the 3 passes trek. We’re actually heading in a week to Nepal to do this trek.
    What is the food situation like at the teahouses? We’re not sure how much high energy snack food to take & carry with us along the trek. After seeing/hearing about all the soda, beer & other stuff sherpa’s haul up there we’re worried we’ll be stuck with just junk food (other than the main meals) to eat during the day…. Any tips would be hugely appreciated.

    1. Thanks Simon! There’s lots of food at the teahouses; they all have menus to order from — noodle dishes, rice dishes, momos, etc. Despite the extensive menus, it all starts tasting the same after a while, but that’s a small complaint given the amazing location! You can also buy snacks like candy bars and chocolates at the teahouses, but that can get expensive. Depending on your porter situation you might consider stocking up on some good snacks like chocolate or energy bars before you go, but it’s not necessary. If there’s particular health food or energy bars you want to take, you should definitely take those as you’ll probably not find it up there. Have fun!

  17. I spend almost two hour to observer all the beautiful photos and reading along through description, FANTASTIC !!
    I like to say thanks for sharing.

  18. oh oh oh ..the heart aches ( in a good way !) at seeing such perfectly captured images …. doing Abc this year and hopefully EBC next … but now you’ve inspired us to try Khumbu . Thanks!

  19. Hi Jack,

    As a Colorado native recently transplanted to Wisconsin, I stumbled *luckily* onto your site which I have enjoyed immensely. Last month I finished reading “Into Thin Air” so I really enjoyed this report of your experiences in Nepal. Your photography is absolutely phenomenal.


  20. Love your photos ! would you be willing to share information on how to get to that lake with Ama dablam right in the centre ? Leaving in two days and would love to make it there. thanks in advance

    1. Hi BBB, I shot all my “serious” landscape photos with a 36mp Sony A7R camera with manual focus Canon tilt shift lenses, on a tripod. This setup produces very sharp, high res photos that can be printed huge. However, since it’s manual focus and requires the tripod, I also brought a smaller camera with an autofocus zoom lens — this I carried in a chest pouch and could pull it out quickly for quick action shots, people shots, and other pics when I didn’t feel like setting up the tripod. I still use this same sort of setup for most of my backpacking treks too.

  21. Congratulations on putting this together – i just went part of the way up on this trek. It was breathtaking.
    I was shocked though to see that you took a photo of the interior of the Tengboche Monastery. It was made very clear that there should be no photos or recordings made inside the monastery. In fact a monk asked a tourist who was sneakily recording the chanting to delete it!
    Perhaps you should respect the monk’s wishes and also delete your image.

    1. Hi Carla,
      Thanks for your email and also for calling me out on the monastery image. When we were there this was not made clear to us in the same way that it sounds like it was when you were there. (There were also a ton of people in there watching, so I wonder if they were mainly just doing the daily show for the tourists). Anyhow I have now removed that photo.
      Thank you!

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