Acclimating in Namche Bazaar, 3 Passes Trek, Everest Region, Nepal

Proper acclimatization is key for a successful trek in the Everest region and at 3440m Namche Bazar is the first place most trekkers spend an extra day to adjust to the altitude. It is also the last outpost of civilization with ATMs, shops, restaurants, etc. From here services greatly diminish and prices climb with the altitude.

Facing majestic mountains, the town climbs up the hillside and boasts an awesome setting. For those acclimatizing here hiking above town offers rewarding views of the surrounding mountain peaks, even of Everest if the weather is clear.

At first light I looked out the window. Thin clouds swirled around the impressive snowy face of the Kongde range. There was hope for today! Yesterday these mountains were not visible at all. Later,around 7:00, the face was completely clear and beautifully lit. My hopes rose further, but just after 8:00 when we started the acclimatization trek, a hike in the hills above Namche, the clouds were already rolling up the valley.

It was cold to start but we soon warmed up with a steep climb. This walk should have impressive views the Kongde range to west and Thamserku and Kusumkhang peaks to the east, which were clear for a while but face directly into the morning sun.

The hike starts past the Gumba Monastery and winds through the brush passing a few homesteads, hotels and even an airstrip now used as a helipad. Frequent yak encounters add interest especially on a day with cloud cloaked mountain peaks. 

A stupa draped in white marks the pass down to Khumjung.

When clear the pass has views of Ama Dablam to the east, but today the clouds tease, with gaps in the clouds just big enough to let you see what you are missing. Despite the cloud cover it remained a pretty sunny day.

A walk through Khumjung is quiet on a Sunday morning. The potato fields that surround the town are just dirt after the last harvest of the season. Tidy rock walls delineate the walkways that run through the village, painted white with green roofs and trim.

The monastery at the upper edge of town, however, is the only colorful building in town.

We stopped for tea on the east edge of town at a flower decked tea house with awesome mountain views when the weather is clear.

The way back to Namche started with a short steep climb before following a level track across the cliff face with views down the valley. It looks like rain in the valley we passed through yesterday with the mountains on either side shrouded in clouds.

Past the lower end of the airstrip they were building a new educational center for waste removal in the area. It’s an impressive stone structure shaped like a ship. The curved walls make it more earthquake resistant. The plan for the center is to teach locals how to separate and clean recyclables. Then the distribution center would package the waste and guides and trekkers would carry it out back to Kathmandu 1 kilo at a time. They estimate they can eliminate 70,000k of waste per year this way.

The descent back to Namche from here is steep, steep, steep. Practically a staircase, albeit uneven, down to town. The walk was only supposed to be 4 hours but we were gone for 5 and a half. Hungry, we had a quick lunch at the guest house before checking out the town as we would be leaving early the next morning.

It’s a congested scene with lots of trekkers on the street and more shops and restaurants than we would see until we returned nearly 2 weeks later.

October 7, 2018

For links to all the posts in this series see the 3 Passes Trek page.