Gokyo to Lungdhen via Renjo Pass
Renjo La, at 5360 meters, is the last of the 3 passes and for me one of the most stunning viewpoints of the trip. Here we will say goodbye to Everest and the last of the high peaks before starting the 3 day trek back to Lukla.
We woke to another clear cold morning. These consistent beautiful mornings are why October and November are peak hiking season. Unfortunately we suffered another restless night because of sleep apnea. It would take another 2 days descent before I’m sleeping somewhat normally again.
We left Gokyo at 7AM. Cold yet calm, the first part of the climb up to the pass is a moderate ascent along the side of Gokyo Ri and then across rolling “hills” to the start of the uphill zig-zag, the track of which is visible from Gokyo.
Although steep and somewhat slippery this section of switchbacks looks worse from a distance than it actually is.
Once at the top of the zig-zag the track traverses to the left to a level open area with the first views of prayer flags over the pass. The final ascent starts with a gentle climb to a rock face below the pass. Although it looks like you’ll have to do some rock climbing to reach the pass the trail winds through the rocky terrain. At this elevation, however, it seems to go on forever.
Despite the gentle climb we actually struggled more on this ascent than for the previous 2 passes. We should be more acclimated now so I’m not sure what the problem was. Could be lack of sleep or we’re just wearing down after 2 weeks on the trail.
The entire time we were climbing I kept looking back at Everest and the surrounding peaks. While into to sun first thing in the morning, the view only improves as the day wears on. Still, I keep an eye out for evidence of early cloud formations. Happily there were just a few small clouds behind Everest and Lhotse.
As the sun rises in the sky the peaks start to light up. By late morning the view was pretty good though later in the afternoon would be better if the clouds don’t close in.
About half way up the wind picked up and would stay with us on and off for the rest of the day. It was the windiest day we had on the trek.
Once we finally reached the top there were few people at the pass. We had arrived between groups of trekkers.
The views from Renjo La are spectacular – Tabuche and Cholaste to the south, of Cho Oya to the north and of course Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse perched above Gokyo and the blue green lake at its foot.
The descent on the other side of the pass starts with a steep decline, although not as steep as I was expecting. The trail is maintained by the local communities to help promote this route and is well graded enough to be used by yaks, though we didn’t see any on the trail. More stairs than we’ve seen anywhere else in the Everest region. Large stones carefully dry stacked to ease the steep decline.
Once down it’s a long gentle descent through the valley. Early afternoon we were walking into the sun with views of interesting peak formations that are probably better lit in the morning.
At what looks like the end of the valley the track curves around the hillside and continues down.
In the distance you can see the edge of a hanging valley where the trail drops over the edge for the final descent to Lungdhen where we would spend the night.
For those traveling in the opposite direction this is a long day with a steep climb to the pass. Currently there are no other guest houses between Lungdhen and Gokyo, but that may change.
We arrived in Lungdhen near 3PM. The village is spread out, the buildings interspersed between rock-walled fields. It’s a peaceful setting that doesn’t see the number of trekkers that you find on other routes.
The 3 Passes Guest House is a quiet lodge with standard basic rooms. The upgraded rooms with a toilet also have an outlet. For 700 Rupee ($6USD) you can charge as much as you want. Standard food.
October 18, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the 3 Passes Trek page.