Advise on High Passes of Everest Trek

Hi Guys,

Just a bit of advise needed on the High Passes of Everest trek. I'm planning a trek for charity next november (in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support). Wanting to avoid the more touristy route of the classic EBC trek i opted for the EBC via Gokyo lakes trek. 

Then i had a look at the Everest High Passes trek and am very tempted by the challenge! I do understand it is quite a tough trek. i'M 32 yrs old & my fitness is satisfactory (cycling over an 1.5 hrs 5 days a week and walking on weekends). My training will be quite brutal with summiting Snowdon & Ben Nevis on the training schedule. I know it does not compare with Himalayas especially with risk of not acclimatising well. Would this be a trek best done once i've experienced trekking at high altitude as suggested on the Exodus trip notes? As much as i want to challenge myself & raise lots of money i also want to be with a chance to complete the trek & not slow down more experienced team members!

Would the EBC via Gokyo lakes suffice and be just as great?

Don't get me started on the Island Peak summit trek or the Mera Peak! Would be a dream but guessing a bit of high altitude trekking experience will be needed before :-p

 Would be great to hear from fellow trekkers with this sort of knowledge :-)

Thanks Nat 



I can't speak from experience yet, I'mbooked on the Nov2 2012 trip, but I suggest you read the reviews posted on the site. They give a good cross section of experiences that helped me when I was making the decision on which trip fo book. This does sound like the best trekking trip, and the most demanding one that Exodus offer. Like you I wanted a bit more than the there and back EBC trip, and also like you seriously considered Island Peak. However in the end I wanted a trekking rather than a climbing focussed trip.

I'm doing this trip as a 60th birthday celebration having had a longstanding wish to visit the Himalaya. I was a bit concerned about fitness, but am now reasonably confident that I can manage multiday trekking. Of course the wild card is acclimatisation, although hopefully the schedule will give enough opportunity to acclimatise well. I think that the best training will be long hill walks with at least 3000ft of ascent, preferably on two or three consecutive days. Of course any walking, cyling or gym work will also be beneficial. From the information I've gleaned, it appears that most days have up to about 6 hours of walking at a fairly easy pace, although a lot of up and down, with a few days of around 8 hours. The trip notes give a good feel of how each day unfolds.

Why not book on this year's trip, there are still spaces, and I need a young 'un to carry my bag!




Hi Sid,

Many thanks for your reply! What a fantasic trip to be doing for your 60th birthday!

I did have a read through the reviews and although they sounded great (albeit very tough!) the Exodus trip advise that it is not for the novice but suited to trekkers with altitude experience keeps playing on my mind...but then again it would not be such a challenge if i opted for something 'doable'...and you only live once :-)

I would have loved to come on the trip this year...and carried your bag ;-) but sadly being under 3 months away it does not leave me much time for fundraising and getting fit!

I wish you a fantastic time and hopefully you'll update us all with a great story and photos :-)

I have some thinking to do now!

Thanks again



hi nat ive been looking at high passes, gokyo lakes and ebc, like you i want to avoid the tourisy route. The high passes looks very tempting,- on another adventure company's website which has a trek very similar there advice on experience required is "This trek is suitable for fit walkers or those with previous trekking experience. If you have completed the Inca Trail, climbed Kilimanjaro or are a regular weekend hill walker" im looking at going in November 2013. On the subject of island peak and mera i would love to do one of them but i think you need some mountaineering experience which sadly i dont have :(  let me know which one you decide on and how your training is going.




Hi Gary, 

I contacted Exodus via email in regards to their opinion on whether it would be an option for me to do the high passes. After a lengthy wait of over a week with no reply i got on the phone & spoke to their trekking team. Based on my trekking experience (never trekked at altitude-more of a 'weekend hill walker'), i was advised that the Gokyo+EBC trek may be more suited as the High Passes is a category D trek? (i guess meaning it's one for the experienced) and they don't usually recommend category D treks for people who have not experienced high altitude trekking/or have not been on similar treks before. That said, none of the team in the Exodus office had done this trek before apart from a lady called Valerie Parkinson (who is leading some of their Himalaya treks next year). He suggested it would be helpful to have a chat with her and get an opinion. I was told that even if i book the Gokyo i can always change to the high passes at a later stage should it be suitable.

I too, when looking at other tour companies, noticed that most say it is a 'do-able' trek for those with good fitness as the altitude is more to do with the pace of the trek and how each individual copes with it.

Saying that, i've gone ahead and booked the EBC via Gokyo trek 13th Nov-3rd Dec 2013. I wanted to get it booked as i'm doing this trek to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and wanted to get fundraising going! I will have a talk with Valerie to get her opinion but i'm feeling that although i want to push myself, i have read that Gokyo is pretty tough (but beautiful), especially the Cho La Pass...apparently the locals have named Gokyo 'valley of death'! (not to scare you!) due to people going up it too fast and suffering AMS :-/  

Off to purchase my boots soon in order to start training. At the mo i'm cycling to work and back (in a rural area) which is 2 hours per day 5 days a week. I will alternate that with walking to work along bridlepaths etc in a variety of weathers (lots of hills to go up and down on!). Part of training will be doing the 3 peaks (snowdon, scafell pike & ben nevis) and just as many walks & climbs in different terrain as possible.

Yes, maybe Island Peak & Mera could be the next challenge! They say that you only need basic skills of using an ice axe & crampons. You get a training day before you ascend on using ropes etc. Think the experience of altitude should come first with me!

Have you done any high altitude treks?

Good luck with your decision making and keep in touch with what you decide on/how training is going



I walked the equivalent of this trek with Mountain Kingdoms in 2011.  It is a fantastic experience and I hope to go back gain some time.  Regarding possible problems with altitude.  It is impossible to know in advance if you are susceptible to problems but the itinerariy does have "acclimatisation" days.  Use these to ascend to at least the height of the next night's stop rather than resting.  

Couple of other points.  The MK route is clockwise - Renjo La first, Kongma La last.  I note your route is anti-clockwise.  Expect Kongma La to be very tough but the views of Ama Dablam make it all worthwhile.  Once over Kongma La and after a night at Lobuja, if youy are feeling OK, you will be set up for the remainder of the trek.  Finally, it is not a race!

Have a great time 



Hi everybody.  I did the High Passes trek in November, so unlike my previous post, I do now speak from experience!  

This was my first trek and my first time over 4000m, that was the Alps 20 years ago.  I'd had extensive hillwalking experience in the UK, again up until about 20 years ago, but little since then.  My preparation during 2012 included a couple of long walks in the Black Mountains and along the Ridgeway, plus a couple of trips to N. Wales and the Lakes which included some stiff hillwalking on consecutive days, about 2-3000ft ascent each day. I had no tiredness or stiffness and so concluded I'd be ok for the 18 consecutive days of trekking in Nepal.  In fact I was correct in this respect.  On no  mornings did I feel tired or ached from the day before, although on a couple of days was very tired by the end of the day.  We all acclimatised well, and most, including myself didn't suffer from headaches or sleepless nights, although intermittent sleep is to be expected at times.

The toughest thing that I had to cope with was the lack of oxygen.  The steep uphills were step, gasp, step gasp, but the important thing is to get into a rhythm and try not to stop too often.  Once the top was reached I recovered quickly and the downhill was almost worth it!  If I was doing this again I would concentrate on some sessions of high level excercise such as fast running followed by recovery jogging (fartlek), or walking uphill as fast as possible and getting really out of breath.

However it was all worth it.  During the middle of the trip  you are ascending to between 5000 and 5500m on nine consecutive days, either a pass or a summit (incl EBC) and sleeping over 4400m.  The view are tremendous and away from the main Everest trail it is reasonably quiet.  There was a real sense of achievement in the group as we all completed it in good health, apart from a couple of stomach upsets and a few coughs.  One of the satisfying elements is that this is a circular route, the only repeated section is Namche - Lukla.

If you have the time and are reasonably fit , book now and get fitter over the summer, this is the hardest and best trek that Exodus do.  

If anyone has any specific queries  please ask and I'll try to answer them.




hi guys 

I just booked my trip to ebc & gokyo lake. Any advice please ;-) anything regarding clothing, what to take with me etc. would a Nikon SLR camera be OK or way to big for that sort of trip. I would like to think that I am reasonably fit, go to gym a few times a week, walk all the time. I have done the Inka Trail and trekked in Chile & Argentina and I had no problems. I would appreciate any advise please





I took an SLR with a 15-85mm lens which was used 90% of the time.  I also took a 55-250mm but that was usually stowed in my rucksac.  The important thing is to have the camera readily available, if in your sac stopping and getting it out every time for a photo just won't happen.  I wore mine in a top loading waist bag so it was immediately available without having to stop.  However you should try this sort of combination out with a day's hillwalking to ensure it works well with your rucksac and is comfortable aroung your waist.  Wearing an slr around your neck for other than short periods will be uncomfortable and on steep terrain potentially hazardous.  Dust will also be  problem, particularly when a yak train is ambling past, so keep in covered at such times.

You will need thermal underwear a fleece layer and a wind/waterproof with a good hood plus a hat.  Also a medium weight duvet jacket to put over the top of everything during stops and for use in the lodges. It goes without saying that all clothing should be breathable and not sweat absorbing.  I used Paramo jacket and duvet which performed very well, never getting any clamminess or condensation.

 I noticed a big difference once over 4500m, and at over 5000m walking uphill is a slow gasping experience.  I would recommend that any extra lung capacity you can gain will be very useful at these altitudes. Get as fit as you can.  probably the longest and toughest day was crossing the Kongma-La pass, a 10hour day with a steep loose climb and descent.

It's agreat trip!



Hi Sid 

Thanks for your reply. I think I am all sorted now, I think I have all will need for the trip.



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