The Right Approach to Conquering Three Passes

The allure of the Himalayas, mainly in the regions with the tallest mountains in the world, has beckoned adventurers and trekkers from around the globe for decades. Among all the highest mountains, the tallest of them all - Mount. Everest attracts trekkers, climbers, and sight-seers around the world.

Among the myriad treks that wind through Everest, the Three Passes Trek in the Everest region stands out as a true test of endurance, skill, and determination. The Three Passes in this trek are Renjo La Pass (5,360m), Cho La Pass (5,420m), and Kongma La Pass (5,535m).

The trek is almost three weeks long and challenges even the most seasoned hikers with its rugged terrain, high altitudes, and unpredictable weather conditions. However, the right approach to conquering three passes makes it an immensely rewarding experience.


Understanding the Three Passes Trek

The Three Passes Trek includes Renjo La Pass (5,360m), Cho La Pass (5,420m), and Kongma La Pass (5,535m) treks. Each pass presents its own challenges and rewards, offering trekkers an unforgettable journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth.


1. Renjo La Pass (5,360m)

Renjo La Pass is the first of the three passes encountered on the Three Passes Trek and the easiest among the three passes. The trails are not very difficult, and their width allows even the Yaks to cross them. Renjo La offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, including Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu. The pass is a gateway between the Gokyo Valley and the remote Bhote Koshi Valley, connecting two distinct cultural and geographical regions.

Ascending Renjo La Pass involves a steep and challenging climb, particularly in the final stretch to the summit. Trekkers must navigate rocky terrain and possibly encounter snow and ice, depending on the season. However, your effort gets rewarded with breathtaking vistas of turquoise Gokyo Lakes nestled among towering Himalayan peaks.


2. Cho La Pass (5,420m)

Cho La Pass is the second pass on the Three Passes Trek, located at 5,420 meters (17,782 feet). It joins the Thagnak (4,700m /15,400 ft) village in the west to Dzongla Village (4,830 meters/5,850 ft) in the east. 

Crossing Cho La involves traversing a high-altitude glacier and negotiating a narrow, rocky gully known as the "cho-la," which can be icy and treacherous, especially in adverse weather conditions. You may require crampons to cross this pass.

Despite its challenges, Cho La Pass offers unparalleled views of Ama Dablam and the Khumbu Glacier. The descent from Cho La leads into the Khumbu Valley, passing through picturesque Sherpa villages and rhododendron forests before reaching the legendary Everest Base Camp.


3. Kongma La Pass (5,535m)

Kongma La Pass is the highest and final pass of the Three Passes Trek, towering at an elevation of 5,535 meters (18,159 feet). Situated between Lobuche and Chukhung, Kongma La offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding peaks, including Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse.

The ascent to Kongma La involves a steep and demanding climb, often requiring crampons and ice axes to negotiate the icy slopes. Trekkers must also contend with the effects of high altitude, including decreased oxygen levels and potential altitude sickness. However, reaching the summit of Kongma La is a moment of triumph, marking the culmination of the epic Three Passes Trek.

As you trek, you will be treated to breathtaking views of towering peaks, pristine glaciers, and picturesque Sherpa villages. The trek also includes visits to iconic landmarks such as Everest Base Camp and the stunning Gokyo Lakes.

Planning and Preparation

One of the key elements of a successful Three Passes Trek is adequate physical fitness. The trek involves long days of hiking at high altitudes, often over rough terrain. You must engage in regular cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and altitude simulation training to prepare your body for the rigors of the trek. 

The Everest Three High Passes Trek presents both challenges and rewards, offering an exhilarating adventure amidst the towering peaks of the Himalayas. While prior trekking experience or a fondness for hiking can be advantageous, they are not prerequisites for embarking on this journey of a lifetime.

Expect to spend approximately 5 to 7 hours hiking each day, with the duration varying depending on the destination. Along the way, frequent breaks provide opportunities to soak in the majestic mountain panoramas and appreciate the awe-inspiring views.

The trek routes encompass a variety of terrains, including long ascents, steep descents, and rocky paths meandering through forests. Therefore, maintaining good fitness is essential to enhance your comfort and enjoyment throughout the journey. The fitter you are, the more you'll be able to savor the experience of traversing this remarkable landscape.



Acclimatization is crucial when trekking at high altitudes to minimize the risk of altitude sickness. The itinerary of the Three Passes Trek includes several rest days to allow your body to adjust to the decreasing oxygen levels. You must ascend gradually and stay hydrated throughout the trek. 

Hence, during the three-pass trek, you must acclimatize, once at Namche and once in Gokyo. Namche is the hub of the Khumbu region, complete with wi-fi-linked hotels, restaurants, and even pubs. We recommend you explore Namche while acclimatizing. Similarly, the Gokyo region provides great views of glorious high mountains, glistening glaciers, and freshwater lakes. We recommend you not skip climbing the Gokyo Ri Viewpoint to enjoy the panoramic view of mountains and high-altitude lakes.


Packing Essentials

The three-pass trek is a high-altitude trek where you will reach an alpine climate. Hence, you must pack clothes for different climates while paying attention to the volume of clothes. We advise you to pack your things in two backpacks: one for carrying things you might need while trekking, like a water bottle, snacks, tissue paper, and a camera. The other is for the rest of the items. For the best experience, we advise you to hire a porter.

You will need layered clothing for your head, upper body, and legs. Pack clothes that dry quickly - long-sleeved shirts, hiking trousers and shorts, a fleece Windstopper jacket, a waterproof jacket, and lightweight thermals. You will also need multiple thermal tops, a pullover, and a down jacket. 

You need non-cotton underwear, hiking pants, thermal trousers, and leggings for the lower body.  Broken-in sturdy boots are a must. Remember to pack sports shoes, trainer shoes, and sandals for different terrains and environments. Do not forget to pack your Phone, camera, and battery packs.

Though you will mostly stay in lodges, we advise you to pack a suitable sleeping bag. Some additional things to pack are a headlamp, sleeping clothes, a first aid kit, a water bottle, trekking poles, and rain cover.

On the Trail

The Three High Passes trek is challenging. You must pay enough attention to your safety. Since there are no adequate health centers in the trek region, we advise you to insure yourself. Make sure to include helicopter rescue in your insurance. There are chances that you might get altitude sickness. Hence you must take appropriate precautions to prevent altitude sickness.


Pace Yourself and use proper gear

The Three Passes Trek is not a race. It's a journey of discovery and exploration. Take your time to enjoy the stunning landscapes, interact with local communities, and appreciate the unique culture. Listen to your body and adjust your pace to prevent exhaustion and altitude-related issues. You might need to use crampons, especially while crossing the passes.


Stay Hydrated and Nourished

Proper hydration and nutrition are essential for maintaining energy levels and stamina on the trail. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and snack on high-energy foods like nuts, dried fruits, and energy bars. You need to consume hot meals rich in carbohydrates and protein to fuel your body for the challenges ahead. 

We advise you to eat the typical Nepali dishes - Dal (lentils), Bhat (rice), and Tarkari (vegetables). Since Buddhism is prevalent in the trek region, animal slaughter is prohibited. This means the meat available in the trek regions is imported, which raises hygiene issues. Hence, we recommend you not to consume non-veg items. Similarly, alcohol can impair your judgment as you cross the steep trails, so you have to avoid alcohol. In addition, we advise you to cut your caffeine intake as well.

Respect the Environment and Local Culture

As you trek through the pristine wilderness of the Everest region, remember to minimize your impact on the environment. Dispose of waste responsibly, avoid single-use plastics, and leave no trace. Respect the customs and traditions of the local Sherpa communities and embrace the opportunity to learn from their rich cultural heritage.



The Three Passes Trek is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that promises to push your limits, expand your horizons, and leave you with memories to last a lifetime. The right approach to conquering three passes includes careful planning, physical preparation, and a spirit of adventure, you can conquer the challenges of the Himalayas and experience the magic of the world's highest mountain range. So lace up your boots, pack your bags, and get ready for the journey of a lifetime. Book your Three High Passes Trek with us, and we promise you a trek of a lifetime.