Three Passes Trek Difficulty – What are the Difficulty Factors?

three passes trek difficulty

Needless to say that, Everest Three High Passes Trek is the most adventurous and rightly challenging of all expeditions. But you should know about the three passes trek difficulty before starting your journey. It’s the most popular hike in Khumjung with steep walks and strolls into the woods and valleys. Each trek route up to the final pass is so inspiring and full of charms that visitors shall run out for words.

The trek draws some of the region’s incredible scenery along with damp pine forests and subnival plants. Rambling through the villages is much more fun than it seems as travelers get to mingle with the people of culture.

Interaction with locals helps one take a closer look at Nepal’s rich cultural history and way of life in the Himalayas. Coming far from it, the unspoiled glacial lakes and sweeping plains along the way have more appeal than any other hike.

Sweeping meadows and vast green forests filled with blue pins and firs are quite a scene to watch from the cliff. But when you have to steer through, it’s no longer exciting. The trail moving from Tengboche to Kongma La Pass is long-run-out and thus tiring.

But it’s still worth doing as the trek comes with a great reward. Travelers can slip into luscious forests anytime and enjoy watching wild animals and birds. But that’s the better side of the trekking as it too involves challenges and rough climbs.

Now, this might have you thinking then how difficult is Three Passes Trek. Well, let me tell you, it’s somewhat more complex and punishing than other regular hikes in Khumjung. Most of the trail has a jagged surface covered with filth and big rocks which is tedious to come across.

The total trek distance of trek from Lukla is 86 miles passing remote villages and rough terrains. It even crosses high passes like Chola and Renjo La, each of which takes about 7 hours of trek. Thus every trekker walking all three passes must be ready to take all the stumbling blocks.


  • Spotless snow peak view of Everest Base Camp and Nuptse
  • Eye-catching landscapes of rolling steppes and wooded mountain slopes
  • Wild animals sighting in the heart of Khumjung’s Sagarmatha National Park
  • Captivating escape to the remote settlements and monasteries
  • Extensive knowledge of culture embraced by different ethnic groups
  • Fun time participating in a religious ceremony at Tengboche Monastery
  • Prevailing over three extreme passes at 5000 meters including Cho La

How difficult is Three Passes Trek?

Everest Three High Passes Trekking

Like any dramatic treks in the Himalayas, Everest Three Passes narrow lanes and forested walks are also tough to navigate. Every day out on the trail takes an average of 7 hours and lots of stamina to top off.

Life on the tracks is pleasant for the first 5 days but onward it’s a tough walk. Trails running through sloppy hills and passes are more difficult to approach than usual. The walk to these places is so long and high that climbers often give out.

Adding to that, most of the treks at great height are dusty with loose rocks that make the hiking strenuous. Traveling along the forest is no easy either especially during monsoon when the trail becomes muddy.

Those who haven’t trekked earlier might have a hard time traversing the route after Dingboche. Hence, they have to be extra cautious while rambling the trail to the first pass between Chhukung and Dingboche since the glaciers here slide faster.

It’ll be hard to cope with the altitude and travel at the same pace. So, most trekkers start slow and speed up after covering a good distance to prevent acute mountain sicknesses. Headache and nausea are the first common symptoms of ailment that have to be cured on time.

There’s no easy way out to the top so hikers have to pull off the jagged course still and all. The length of the trek from Lukla is about 19 miles which in itself is a huge drawback for trekkers. The major three passes trek difficulty is unpredictable weather which usually gets worse during winter and monsoon.

During the month of January, there is heavy snowfall from Gorak Shep to Lungde that makes the trail slippery to walk. The temperature too drops below minus degree celsius causing the campsite and above to be freezing cold. As a consequence, avid trekkers don’t flock the region in winter.

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What things Measures Difficulty?

Everest Three High Passes Trekking

After learning three high passes trek difficulty, it’s time to find out the challenges that mountaineers have to overcome along the way. Every climb starting from Namche gets harder with the trail rising steeply and passing high ridges. The zigzagged route so often winds through uphill and down which makes it difficult to beat.

Compared to Everest Base Camp, three high pass trek is way tougher and exhausting. The trek through Gokyo Ri and Renjo La are off-the-beaten and less visited. So, for the people who have no clear idea of the route, you better be smart and hire a tour guide who’s local to the region.

They can lead you off to the highest point and accompany while retracing the steps back. Other than the route itself, there are many other factors determining three passes trek difficulty are listed below.

1. Altitude Sickness

Reaching up to the height of 5,545 meters can have anyone struggle with altitude sickness. Unfortunately, this is what every trekker of Three Passes has to go through in the process of making the way to top.

By no means, they can escape it unless taken all the prevention required before hiking. Walking too quickly at a high altitude often results in altitude sickness. It starts with a mild headache and queasy feelings that make the hiker restless.

If not respond to such symptoms in the early stage, altitude sickness can turn ugly. Chances of people suffering from hyperventilation and alkalosis are always high after 5500 meters so you need to be careful.

Proper rest and sufficient fluid in the body really helps in preventing acute mountain sickness. So, drink as much water as possible or any energy-giving drink to the least amount of 5 liters throughout the excursion.

Limit the trek distance and walk slowly above 2,500 meters. Drinking alcohol and smoking deteriorates health even on a normal day let alone trekking so avoid such things while on the trail.

Mind you, altitude acclimatization is the ultimate cure for acute mountain sickness so take more and more rest. But, if you’re still not getting better even after medication then, take some time and climb down the trail.

2. Extreme Weather and Temperature

Weather and Temperature are major three passes trek difficulty. For this one, hikers can’t do anything except pick the best time and make preparations accordingly. Given the endearing trails with so many ascends and descends, take no chance and get the trip done in post-monsoon.

We highly recommend traveling to the region during spring if not autumn. Both seasons have the finest weather with cool nights and sunny days. The gust of wind coming straight from the mountain makes the walk a lot easier.

Saying so, the climate above Gokyo Ri can be severe even during the prime trekking season. Remember the weather is unpredictable at high altitude that’s why you must be prepared for every worse condition possible.

If feasible, don’t fly to Lukla in Monsoon to avoid the rainfall and slippery trails. As the other off-trek season, winter too isn’t favorable for trekking. So, don’t make a visit to the trail of Three Passes from December to February.

3. Long and Steep Hike

Everest Three High Passes Trekking

Trek in the Himalayas is never easy, particularly if it’s gigantic like Everest Three Passes. The hike is one of the toughest and exhausting with steep inclines and foothills. Walking the trail takes a little over 2 weeks with a trek duration of 6-7 hours every day.

After Namche, every trek route is miles long, skirting a precipitous climb with lots of twists and turns. They move through high swaying hills, glaciers, and over rocks to reach the highest Kongma La Pass which is indeed difficult.

Trekking high altitude too fast triggers dyspnea, making it hard to catch the breath. Chances of rockfalls are also high on the trail running from Thangnank to Cho La Pass. Hence, trekkers have to be cautious while rambling through passes.

Meanwhile, the slippery track of winter is another Three Passes trek difficulty. The glacial terrains and snow-wrapped trails need crampons to walk otherwise you won’t get a grip and keep sliding.

4. Lack of Accommodation

Accommodation on the way to Everest Three Passes is up to mark. Every existing inn from guest house to lodge and hotels in lower plains are well-furnished and cozy. As the most common form of accommodation, trekking lodges and tea houses are more popular in the off-beaten trek areas.

They provide both single and double bedrooms that merely cost a few bucks. But it’s only when you’re hiking the region during off-seasons. At the time of prime trekking, the lodgings are packed with trekkers flown from all over the world.

Most mid-range guest houses are so full of visitors that a lot of times, they’re out of rooms. And still, if they manage to host you with one, it may not be well-equipped with just basic amenities.

Remember the cheaper accommodations are usually trashy so don’t be reluctant to spend a few extra dollars and get yourself something better and nice. Never expect to get a high standard dwelling at the last-minute of a trek.

For that, you have to make an advance booking almost a week before when traveling on-season. Furthermore, homestays and tea houses more often remain closed in the wake of heavy rainfall during winter. Thereby, if you don’t want to spend the night in the woods, it’s best to make pre-arrangements.

5. Physical Exhaustion

The Trek is undeniably adventurous but the journey is too long and exhausting. With endless trails, sharp topography, and extreme landscape, the trek is one wild ride.

Every day on the trail brings a new challenge to hikers which few succeed and most of them keep struggling. Walking steppe routes are highly strenuous and take a lot of physical strength. So, every trekker has to train their body in such a way that it can easily stand a trek of at least 6 hours.

The trek routes are certainly no walk in the park. Thus, trekkers have to challenge themself physically and mentally to triumph over difficulties. Cardio workouts and strict fitness regime help the body stay fit and energetic.

The trails starting from Namche are shockingly rough and walk on ingenious granite and sedimentary rocks. They drain energy from the body and compel hikers to give up after one point.

To cope with that, the climbers have to strictly follow physically intense workouts and keep the body in shape. They should start jogging and hike every weekend in any nearby trails that are uneven.

6. Porter and Guide

It might sound like nothing big but porter and guide are the life force of the trek. They not only make the trek achievable but also joyous, letting the voyager enjoy the scenery. Hikers may achieve the trek even without their help but the expedition will never be the same.

As for beginners, they can’t even think about doing the trek without hiring a pro guide who knows the route quite well. Finding a local guide who can lead the route well is a significant Three Pass Trek difficulty.

In case you’re covered by the company, there’s no need to bother finding a guide or even porter. It’ll be all taken care of by the company. But, if you’re traveling single and have no knowledge of how the routes are, then get yourself a local tour guide.

They can assist you like no one else, making the expedition a lot easier and happier. The local guest house can arrange both porters and guides for climbers. Depending on the season, it can cost you $15 to $20 to hire a porter per day while the amount to be paid for a guide ranges from $30 to 40USD.

In order to build communication throughout the way, your guide must be excellent in speaking English. Therefore, when you select the guide, get someone who can speak the language fluently.

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How to get over Three Passes Trek difficulty?

Everest Three High Passes Trekking

It’s in public knowledge that the trek is one of the difficult treks in the Himalayas with many technical climbs. But with proper preparation, anyone can do it easily and make the excursion unforgettable. So, here are some of the few guidelines to tackle three passes trek difficulty and successfully arrive at Khongma La Pass.

  • Improve endurance power by taking short-distance hike once a week
  • Maintain balance and flexibility to get better off the trail
  • Depending on the elevation gain, take short and frequent breaks to avoid altitude sickness
  • Use trekking poles to take off the pressure from the knee while walking steppes
  • Drink 5 liters of water or more to stay hydrated
  • Increase fitness level before trek by doing more intense exercise
  • Check the weather forecast before hiking places at high altitude
  • Maintain your diet and eat healthy throughout the trek
  • Personalized fitness routine including cardio workout and planks increase muscle power so give it a go
  • Carry first aid kit with all required supplies including prescribed medicines and band-aid
  • Take slow steps while climbing pass as possibilities of rockfalls are high

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