Trip Number: 13560A
Price: $3,795 (12-15)
$4,195 (or fewer)
Staff: Melinda Goodwater
- Enjoy unparalleled views of Mt. Everest from Kala Pattar and Gokyo Ri
- Visit bustling Everest Base Camp during the spring climbing season
- Stay in toasty, comfortable lodges with an international array of trekkers
- Spend two guided days visiting ancient temples and monasteries in the
- Guides, porters, and all lodges on trek
- Kathmandu hotel, airport transfers, and city guide
- Round-trip in-country flight: Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu
Photo: Tom Miller
Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, has been a magnet to mountaineers
and trekkers since Nepal opened its doors to foreigners in the 1950s. The desire
to trek and climb the high Himalaya cannot be denied, and this trip offers fit
hikers a chance to view Everest up-close and personal from many vantage points.
Springtime brings warmer weather, longer days, and an explosion of color from
the many-hued rhododendrons growing up to 13,000 feet. April is also the beginning
of climbing season, making a visit to Everest Base Camp an exciting event. The
hike up Gokyo Valley is even more spectacular with its shimmering turquoise
lakes, the largest glacier in Nepal, and views of four 8,000-meter peaks (over
26,000 feet) from the top of Gokyo Ri. Hiking with only a day pack, cheerful
Nepali porters carry our gear as we stay in spartan, but comfortable lodges
the Sherpa people have built clear up to 17,000-foot Gorak Shep. The prospect
of following in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary and seeing some of the many
projects funded by his Himalayan Trust makes this an adventure not to miss.
Kathmandu extends a shocking welcome to new arrivals with its crowded, narrow,
medieval streets and plethora of temples and colorful shops. We'll have two
days to visit Swayambunath, the Monkey Temple; Boudnath, one of the world's
largest stupas or Buddhist shrines; and Pashupatinath, the holiest Hindu temple
in Nepal. Guided exploration of Patan and Bhaktapur, the two other ancient cities
of the Kathmandu Valley, show off a time when Nepal was the most advanced in
architecture and wood carving.
Photo: Tom Miller
The rest of Nepal enjoys a quiet, rural existence we'll appreciate after our
scenic mountain flight to Lukla. Although not the busiest trekking area of Nepal,
we'll be sharing the trails and lodges with a wide array of international hikers.
After acclimatizing a day in the bustling mountain village of Namche Bazaar,
we head up the Gokyo Valley for our first views of Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse,
and Makalu, all 8,000-meter peaks. We'll be well-prepared to climb 18,500-foot
Kala Pattar for the incomparable views of Everest, the Khumbu Icefall, and Everest
Base Camp 1,000 feet below. An afternoon observing the monks' peaceful rituals
at renowned Tengboche Monastery rounds out the experience.
While most people come to Nepal to trek on the roof of the world, they are
surprised to learn that the cultures of its many ethnic groups are at least
as interesting. Nepal's true treasure is the warmth and hospitality of its people
and this trek offers the opportunity to learn and experience the Sherpa culture
in their homeland. Indeed this is the trek of a lifetime, but the joy and friendliness
of the Nepalese people will beckon you to return again and again!
Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu: Transfer to our hotel. We'll have
an orientation about the trip, then the afternoon is free to explore the neighborhood
of Thamel. Enjoy a welcome dinner of traditional Nepali fare.
Photo: Gordon Duvaul
Day 2: Kathmandu: To recover from jet lag, we'll take a dawn
warm-up walk up 300 feet of stairs to see Hindu and Buddhist temples and to
hear beautiful Newari singing at Swayambunath, the Monkey Temple. The rest of
the day is spent first in the Hindu world of Pashupatinath where we'll see sadhus,
temples dedicated to Shiva and a host of other gods, and ritual funeral burnings
on ghats along the Bagmati River. Then we enter the Buddhist world at Boudnath,
one of the largest stupas in the world. A welcoming home for Tibetan refugees,
monasteries and shops selling Tibetan and Buddhist goods circle the stupa as
monks chant while doing their kora, or circumambulation of the shrine. Dinner
at a fine Indian restaurant.
Day 3: Kathmandu-Lukla-Phakding: Begin the day with an early-morning
mountain flight to Lukla, 9,350 feet. This is one of the most exciting mountain
runways to land on. Relax with tea and cookies while our staff pack their loads
to head out for the day's hike. We begin on the trekkers' highway through scenes
of rural beauty, where we're most likely to see the peak rhododendron bloom.
Kusum Kangru is the first high peak we'll see at nearly 21,000 feet. Three hours
of up-and-down hiking bring us to camp at Phakding, 8,700 feet.
Day 4: Phakding-Namche Bazaar: A steady climb up to Namche
with the sheer face of 21,700-foot Thamserku coming into view. Rhododendron
and magnolia flowers decorate the trail while musk deer and Himalayan tahr may
be seen on the cliffs above. A slow pace is required on the final long ascent
to lessen the chance of altitude sickness. Seven hours and 2,600 feet up brings
us to Namche Bazaar at 11,320 feet, a bustling town set in a bowl circled by
snow-clad peaks. Two nights are spent here to acclimatize.
Photo: Tom Miller
Day 5: Namche Bazaar: A rest and acclimatization day with
plenty of time to explore this large mountain town complete with shopping and
bakeries. A walk to the Namche Gompa (monastery), Sagarmatha (Nepalese name
for Mt. Everest) National Park Headquarters, and the Sherpa Cultural Museum
are all worth visiting, plus there are superb views of Everest, the Nuptse-Lhotse
wall, Ama Dablam, and Tengboche Monastery from here.
Day 6: Namche-Khumjung: A climb of 1,100 feet in four hours
brings us to picturesque Khumjung, 12,430 feet, the largest village in the Khumbu
(Everest area) that's set at the foot of sacred Khumbi Yul Lha, 18,900 feet.
Taking the afternoon to further acclimatize, we'll visit Hillary's first school,
opened in 1960 and enlarged to add a high school in 1983 by the Himalayan Trust.
We may also visit the Khumjung Gompa, which is said to possess the skull of
a yeti, the abominable snowman.
Day 7: Khumjung-Dole: Continue climbing to a 13,000-foot ridge
with stunning views to Ama Dablam and overlooking Tengboche. Descend 1,000 feet,
then regain it again up through rhododendron and birch forest to Dole, 13,250
feet, in five hours. See even more impressive views with a short hike up a ridge
Day 8: Dole-Machhermo: Although this is a short day, only
three hours, we will need to stop at Machhermo, 14,700 feet, so we do not ascend
too quickly. Views hiking out of Dole include Kangtega, 22,200 feet, and Thamserku.
Up the Gokyo Valley Cho Oyu, the planet's sixth highest peak, comes into view.
The vistas become more dramatic the farther up the valley we go.
Photo: Tom Miller
Day 9: Machhermo-Gokyo: Continuing up the valley we reach
the terminal moraine of Ngozumpa Glacier, the longest in Nepal. The Gokyo Valley
is characterized by a series of lakes, starting with First Lake, barely a pond.
Climbing higher we come to Taujung, or second lake, then stop at Gokyo along
Dudh Pokhari, the third lake. In four hours we'll ascend to 15,600 feet and
stay here for two nights.
Day 10: Gokyo: For tremendous views and to aid our acclimatization
even more, we'll do an early morning climb of 17,500-foot Gokyo Ri, considered
a small peak next to Gokyo. The two-hour climb culminates with panoramic views
of 26,900-foot Cho Oyu, Gyachung Kung (the highest peak under 8,000 meters),
Everest, 27,930-foot Lhotse, and Makalu (the fifth highest mountain on Earth).
In the afternoon we can hike farther up along the Ngozumpa Glacier to Fourth
Lake for more amazing views.
Day 11: Gokyo-Phortse: Retreating down-valley, we cross the
headwaters of the Dudh Kosi (river) below the snout of the glacier to hike down
the other side of the river. A 100-year old ban on wood-cutting in the forests
around Phortse have made them a refuge for wildlife, so we're likely to see
impeyan pheasants, or danphe (the national bird), blood pheasants, and deer.
Descend to 12,670 feet in seven hours.
Photo: Tom Miller
Day 12: Phortse-Pheriche: The trail continues high and with
some exposure around the ridge that separates the Gokyo Valley from the main
route to Base Camp. Climbing in and out of bluffs, we first come to Pangboche,
where there's an old monastery that was founded in the 1600s. Proceeding on,
Everest peeks over the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge, which becomes more dominant upon
entering Pheriche, 14,040 feet, in six hours. The Himalayan Rescue Association
(HRA) runs a medical post here where Western volunteer doctors give consultations.
They also have daily lectures on altitude sickness. Fortunately, we should be
well acclimatized by now.
Day 13: Pheriche-Lobuche: Meander up the open valley to the
steep climb up the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier to Thuklha Pass, where
there are many memorials dedicated to the Sherpas who never made it back from
Everest. Climb more gently now to Lobuche, 16,200 feet, where the steep ramparts
of Lhotse can be seen. Our hike today is five hours with a memorable sunset
Day 14: Lobuche-Kala Pattar-Gorak Shep: An exciting day starting
with the three-hour walk to Gorak Shep, 17,000 feet, situated on the rough moraine
of the Changri Shar Glacier. After a long break, continue two more hours to
summit Kala Pattar at 18,500 feet. This is the most popular viewpoint of the
trek -- having close-up views of Everest and the Khumbu Icefall, and overlooking
Base Camp, which is 1,000 feet below. The afternoon sun lights up the peaks
and a quick scramble down returns us to Gorak Shep for the night.
Photo: Tom Miller
Day 15: Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp-Lobuche: Another day
of highlights including the long, arduous, difficult hike to Everest Base Camp,
17,600 feet, six hours round-trip. We walk on top of the bouldery moraine of
the Khumbu Glacier quite a distance before dropping onto the glacier itself.
Avoiding crevasses, we finally arrive at Base Camp, where there is no view of
Everest, just camps of the expeditions preparing for their climbs. The 50-foot-high
seracs of the Khumbu Icefall are intriguing and a feature peculiar to Himalayan
glaciers. Back at Gorak Shep, it's another 2-3 hours down to Lobuche.
Day 16: Lobuche-Dingboche: Take it easy on a four-hour descent
to Dingboche, 14,270 feet, along a high plain far above the river. If there's
time and energy, a hike up the Imja Valley toward Chhukhung reveals views of
the south face of Lhotse, immense fluted walls of the Amphulapcha Glacier, the
sheer face of 20,300-foot Island Peak, and the eastern face of oddly shaped
22,350-foot Ama Dablam.
Day 17: Dingboche-Tengboche: Hike four hours to Tengboche
Monastery at 12,700 feet. Descend the Imja Valley to cross the Khumbu Khola
(river), then cross it again and ascend to Tengboche, the largest and most active
monastery in the Khumbu. Destroyed in a fire in 1989, the new gompa is bigger
and better than before. An attached school provides for about 30 young monks
and we may observe daily ceremonies and have a tour of the monastery. This is
also one of the world's most magnificent views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama
Dablam, Kantega, and Thamserku.
Photo: Tom Miller
Days 18-19: Tengboche-Monjo-Lukla: Descend to cross the Dudh
Kosi and climb 700 feet back up to Namche. After a stop for lunch, continue
down to Monjo, 9,235 feet, in eight hours. Continue down the next day to complete
the trek at Lukla in six hours. We celebrate our accomplishment and thank our
hard-working staff with a porter party.
Day 20: Lukla-Kathmandu: We bid farewell to most of our staff
as we board our early morning flight to Kathmandu. Transfer to the Potala Guest
House, where hot showers await us. The afternoon is free for decompressing and
shopping. Dinner at a restaurant of the leader's choice.
Day 21: Kathmandu: After breakfast we'll have a guided tour
of the ancient cities of Patan and Bhaktapur. They each had their own kings,
temples, and Durbar Squares to show off their offerings to their gods. Patan's
museum is well worth visiting, and the peace and quiet of Bhaktapur is like
going back in time. We'll honor our trekking staff again at our farewell dinner
at a favorite Thamel restaurant.
Day 22: Depart Kathmandu: We'll decompress over breakfast
at a restaurant that serves American favorites before transferring to the airport
for our flights home.
You will need to make your own travel arrangements to and from Nepal. You
may wish to take advantage of the services of our Nepali travel agent who has
been booking flights for members of Sierra Club Asian treks for many years.
The leader will provide contact information in a future trip bulletin.
You must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of exiting
Nepal. A Nepal visa is also required, and details to apply for that will be
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Tom Miller
Double-occupancy rooms in Kathmandu are included with the trip. Our hotel features
rooms with private baths and hot showers. It's centrally located within walking
distance of many temples and shops, plus it's staffed by friendly, English-speaking
folks. Although not fancy, it is clean, with several lovely gardens to relax
On trek, we will be sleeping and eating in rustic, spartan trekking lodges.
The rooms have simple wooden bed frames with comfortable mattresses and pillows
and usually a single overhead light. "Night toilets" are usually provided
indoors so you do not have to go outside at night. The bedrooms are not heated,
but the dining rooms are. Hot showers may sometimes be available for a price,
but this is not included. Boiled water and tea will be available at all meals
and water purification will be provided for treating your drinking water. Buying
bottled water is discouraged as the bottles are rarely recycled and end up along
Meals in Kathmandu will be in restaurants catering to Western tastes and hygiene.
On trek our staff will supervise meal preparation to make sure water is boiled,
dishes are properly cleaned, and that hygienic practices are followed during
meal preparation. We will be having all our meals in lodges that have extensive
menus offering Nepali, Tibetan, and Western specialties. Vegetarians are easy
to accommodate since dal bhat (lentils and rice) is the Nepali staple and always
available. Any other food restrictions should be indicated to the leader as
far in advance as possible.
Any Himalayan trek should be considered moderately strenuous, meaning mostly
moderate hiking with a few strenuous days. Trekking in the Khumbu is especially
difficult because of the elevation gain made in a short amount of time. Flying
into Lukla gets us to 9,350 feet without any acclimatization, and then the next
day we're at Namche at 11,300 feet. Daily elevation gains and losses could be
as much as 3,500 feet. The highest mandatory altitude is at 17,000 feet at Gorak
Shep, which is also the highest camp. Most camps will be above 10,000 feet.
You should be in excellent physical condition to do this trek, with recent hiking
experience above 10,000 feet. Recommendations for an adequate conditioning regime
will be provided in a future bulletin to approved trip members.
Photo: Tom Miller
Spring is the ideal time to trek in Nepal, with typically dry, clear weather.
Rain is infrequent and usually only lasts a day. However, mountains create their
own weather and rain, snow, or a surprise storm can happen unexpectedly anytime.
There could also be some snow and ice at our highest elevations. Daytime temperatures
of 50-70 degrees can be expected depending on elevation and nighttime temperatures
may go down to the 20s at our high locations. Ultra-violet rays from the sun
are especially strong above 10,000 feet, so long pants, long-sleeved shirts,
and high-value spf sunscreen and lip balm are essential.
Although porters will carry most of your gear, you will need to carry what
you need for the day in a day pack that weighs up to 15 pounds. You are encouraged
to hike at your own pace, stopping when you wish for photography or other interests.
We will have English-speaking sherpa guides hiking with us to keep us from getting
lost. You should be comfortable hiking 3-4 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours
in the afternoon, after about a 1.5-hour break for lunch. Because of the rough
nature and steepness of the trails, hiking poles are strongly recommended.
As important as your physical conditioning is your mental preparation. The
more you familiarize yourself with Nepal before the trip, the more you will
be able to absorb and enjoy once you get there. The books in the reference section
would be a good starting point. Also, flexibility, patience, and a spirit of
adventure are necessary. You should be comfortable traveling in close proximity
with a group of people and be able to adapt easily to changing conditions. This
trip will be especially enjoyable for those with an open mind to embrace new
cultures and experiences.
Equipment and Clothing
A detailed equipment list will be sent to approved trip participants. Your
personal gear should be packed in a soft duffel bag, no hard-frame packs or
suitcases. Duffel weight is limited to 22 pounds since each porter will carry
three of these. What you carry in your day pack is not counted in your duffel
Photo: Tom Miller
The following books should give you a feel for what the trek will be like.
Your local library is also a good resource.
- Mayhew, Bradley and Joe Bindloss, Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya,
(9th edition). Lonely Planet Publications.
- McGuinness, Jamie, Trekking in the Everest Region, (5th edition).
- Mayhew, Bradley, Joe Bindloss, and Stan Armington, Nepal, (7th
edition). Lonely Planet Publications.
- Moran, Kerry, Moon Handbook Nepal. Avalon Publishing.
- Nepal. Insights Guides, APA Production/Prentiss Hal.
- Krakauer, Jon, Into Thin Air.
- Maps of our trekking area will be distributed in Nepal. Nelles Maps' Nepal
is a good map of the entire country.
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused organization. We are concerned
about conservation and sustainability of resources locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmental
concerns at home and abroad.
Nepal suffers from the same ecological problems common to most of the third
world: a growing population, deforestation, erosion, pollution, lack of clean
water, and the melting of glaciers. We will observe firsthand the positive and
negative influence of Western culture on a traditional society. We will be confronted
with troubling dilemmas arising from our presence; we provide an important source
of income, but impact their resources and lifestyle. Some of us will question
many of our attitudes, particularly our inequitable consumption of the world's
resources. Perhaps these experiences will make us better world citizens and
involve us actively in searching for a more balanced and sustainable way of
life for all of us on this planet. The Nepali people have much to learn from
our successes and mistakes; we have much to learn from their spirit and positive
attitude. Those of us perceptive and wise enough to open our hearts and minds
will come away with a new awareness of the world and the way we live in it.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Melinda Goodwater went on her first trek to Nepal in 1990 and loved it so much she returned 5 months later. She began leading treks there with her future Nepalese husband in 1992 and lived there through much of the 1990's. She has led over 90 Sierra Club outings everywhere from Alaska, the Sierra, and Rockies, to the desert Southwest. Timesharing between the U.S. and her Nepalese family gives Melinda an insight into the people and culture of Nepal not easily gleaned otherwise. Along with years of experience leading trips in remote and high-altitude situations, Melinda is also a Wilderness First Responder with 80 hours of first aid training. She welcomes you to join her Nepalese trekking family.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips