• Oct 15, 2019
  • Index Adventure
  • 2671

The three passes trek is one of the most challenging treks in Nepal. It is one of the best if not the best trekking route of Nepal. Everest region is popular among millions of people around the world. And each year, thousands of adventure seekers visit this place. The mighty mount Everest rules over this region. There are many other mountains that stand tall.

Everest Base Camp trekking is the most popular trekking route in Nepal. But it is not considered to be as challenging and difficult as the three passes trek. Renjo La pass (5435m), Chola pass (5420m), and Kongma La pass (5535m) are the mighty three passes. All these passes lie above 5400 m from the sea level.

You can easily get altitude sickness during this trek. And comes the tough trails over rocky mountains and frightening glaciers. However, the reward you get during this trek is mesmerizing. You can see beautiful valleys, incredible mountains, and astounding lakes. You will get to experience the ancient Sherpa and Tibetan culture.

There will be times when you would want to quit hiking and return back to your normal life. But the feeling upon completing this trek is something that simple words cannot explain.

In this article, I will be talking about the three passes trek difficulty and some tips to overcome them.

Trek details:

Duration: 17 days

Start/end: Kathmandu/Kathmandu

Max altitude: 5643 (Kala Patthar)

Difficulty: Challenging

Accommodations: Few hotels and lots of tea houses

Minimum temperature: -15 degree Celsius


For more detailed information about the treks please Contact us.

Table of Contents

How Difficult Is The Three Passes Trek?

Trekking is always less difficult than peak climbing. The three passes trek is challenging. I would give it a rating of 7.5 out of 10 in difficulty meter. These passes have taken lives of many adventure seekers (may their souls rest in peace).

Why Is The Three Passes Trek difficult?

The extreme cold is one of the very few factors to worry about, during such trekkings. The altitude can be harsh. And without proper acclimatization, your body would not be able to cope well with the altitude. All of these passes are above the altitude of 5000 m. Such an altitude can be harsh and difficult to settle in.

Also, the trail is challenging. The three passes trek includes crossing the mighty passes, Gokyo Ri, and even the Everest Base camp. You could skip the base camp if you wanted to. But I highly recommend the base camp, since the route falls in the way.

This ultimate trekking route takes at least 17 days to complete. More if things do not go your way. And things do not always go as planned.

Physically and mentally exhausted:

A 17 days long trek is without a doubt tiring. You need to be fit physically. Your whole body will be aching. But one cannot complete these treks without proper self-motivation. You need to be mentally strong. I have seen tons of people who give up during the trek and return back.

Mental fitness is the most important thing while trekking. The Everest region is one of the most remote places in Nepal. Most of you are used to the luxury lifestyle. This trekking does not offer you luxury. You will miss your warm bed, and you will miss your hot shower. Also, you will miss the food.

Most people always have a fear of remoteness in their heart and mind. You could feel alone and trapped. You will think about the worse things that may happen, and how will you recover in such remote places.

Mentally exhaustion adds to the three passes trek difficulty. Rather than thinking about terrible things, I suggest you enjoy your journey. Trekking is fun if you know how to enjoy the trip. Nature loves you if you love her back. So enjoy your journey, enjoy the views, and keep motivating yourself.

Altitude sickness:

Altitude sickness is the primary factor that increases the three passes trek difficulty. I am not a doctor, and I do not know how a human body works. Altitude sickness is hard to understand. One cannot determine whether they will get altitude sickness or not. Some get altitude sickness even if you are super fit, and some do not.

However, the possibility of getting altitude sickness will be high without proper acclimatization. Your body needs to get used to the altitude. Therefore it is better to take a rest day if you need to.

Consult your doctor before starting this trek.

Rough climbs and long hikes:

The three passes trekking route consists of rough terrains and steep climbs. There are landslide areas. These areas are terrifying. There are places where the land is scree. For every couple of steps, you will set a step back.

There are tough climbs in this trail. You will be climbing up steep rocky hills, that have huge boulders and rocks.

Them come to the glaciers. There are many glaciers in the way, and you need to get across a few. While most glaciers are smooth to cross, there are a couple of glaciers which are tough to cross. A pair of crampons work like magic.

There is a glacier before you cross the Cho La pass. This glacier takes about 40 minutes to cross, and you will be terrified. There is a fear of the ice melting and getting thinner. This glacier needs to be crossed before 10 in the morning. The ice tends to melt after the sun gets higher.


Weather in the Everest region is unpredictable. And you should be careful if you are planning to visit this place in the offseason. Bad weather increases the three passes trek difficulty. Mostly the weather stays fine in the trekking season. Still, the temperature drops rapidly at night. And the freezing temperature can be unbearable. I recommend you pack lots of layers and warm inners.

Even the start of your trekking could delay because of the weather. The early flight from Kathmandu to Lukla often cancels. The weather needs to be pristine for a plane to land safely in the Lukla airport. This airport is one of the most if not the most dangerous airports in the world.

There are possibilities of an avalanche occurring as well. So, you need to be extra careful.

Remote place and long duration:

This route is not the hardest trek for nothing. The places are remote, and there are no proper means of transportation. You could get sick at such places. At such times there are no other options than hiring an emergency helicopter. Another option is carrying you to the nearest settlement.


For more detailed information about the treks please Contact us.

Some other factors that increase the difficulty:

The factors above are the primary factors that make this trek difficult. However, there are some secondary things that add to the three passes trek difficulty.


Food and water:

Food and water are limited in the Everest region. Higher the altitude, lesser is the availability of food. Everything needs to be carried by porters or donkeys in such altitude. Another way of transporting food and water to such altitude is by air.

There is no source of water at such altitude. Since there is no water source, you need to buy the water. And the water is much more expensive than accommodation. And the price seems reasonable considering the amount of work the Sherpas do.

Same goes for food. The land above 4000 m is not cultivable in these areas. Only a few grains and potatoes can be cultivated out there. So food gets expensive as well.

Avoid any meat while you are trekking in the Everest region. Like I mentioned earlier, everything has to be flown or carried to get there. Same goes for meat. So yeah, that’s that.


The last ATM you will find during the three passes trekking is in Namche. There are no machines ahead, and Namche is the starting point for this Trek. So, make sure you have enough money with you.

Charging your phone and camera:

It might not be a big deal for many, but I found it important. Make sure you carry a portable power bank. An hour of charging your device can cost up to 400 Npr.


A shower is not that necessary, but I felt like mentioning it. Namche is the last place you will get a proper hot shower for free. Further ahead, a hot shower costs money. It is expensive, plus you will not want to remove your clothes and take a bath.


Last but not least, the budget can play a huge role in your trek. The three passes trek is one of the most costly trekking in Nepal. This trek is long and covers a long distance. A one-way flight from Kathmandu to Lukla can cost up to 200$. Accommodations are cheap in these areas, but food and water are expensive.

Many people try to save money by walking more and decreasing the duration of this trek. It makes this trek even more challenging.

Top Tips

Keep on motivating yourself. The remoteness of the Everest region can be overwhelming. There will be times when you will question your decisions and want to return back to your normal life. You will feel alone and trapped. So, stay strong and stay motivated. Enjoy the journey and embrace what nature has to offer.

Get a health insurance. The three passes trek is long and tiring. This trekking route includes the Gokyo Ri trekking and even the Everest Base camp trekking. You could get sick, and the remoteness of this place makes it worse. The only options are carrying you to the nearest settlement or hiring an emergency helicopter.

Carrying you works for minor injuries or sickness. Some health insurances cover a flight up to 6000 m. So, I suggest you get one.

Buy altitude sickness medicine. Altitude sickness can happen to anyone. It is better if you visit your doctor before going on such extreme trekking. Diamax is one of the most common medicines you can buy in Kathmandu. These pills are available without any prescriptions.

But I am not a doctor, so I suggest you visit your doctor and know which medicine works well for you.

If you get altitude sickness, descend quickly and rest. Take your time and allow your body to get normal. After you catch your breath, ascend slowly. Rest every 10 minutes and continue walking until you reach your destination.

The primary symptoms of altitude sickness are nausea, headache, lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, rapid pulse, shortness of breath.

Carry water purifier tablets. Since water is so hard to find, you will have to drink tap water in lower altitudes. It is better if you carry water purifier tablets.

Do not forget a map. A map can be a life saviour.

Pack toilet paper.

Make sure to pack lots of layers and enough thermal layers.

Please pack a thermos.

Make sure you pack antibiotics and medicines. You might get injured or wounded.

Coffee and tea bags can be soothing.


The Everest region is a heaven on earth. This place is beautiful. You will get to experience ancient Sherpa tradition. The mountains are incredible, and the valleys are astounding. The base of the tallest mountain in the world is amazing.

Everything about this place is incredible. You will be able to achieve something very few will ever do. But the conditions can be harsh, and not everything will go as planned.

The three passes trek is challenging. The remoteness of this place is overwhelming. You will be terrified and alone. There are lots of things that make this trek one of the most difficult treks. But with proper knowledge and guidance, you will be able to conquer this mighty area.

You will be able to see the majestic mountains up close. You will be in love with the place and the people.

Pack wisely and know your body. Enjoy the trip, and you will complete this trek.

Sagarmatha National Park is a world heritage site. This place is home to many animals and plants. Make sure you do not harm these rare species. Make sure you keep your environment clean. Do not make this beautiful place a dumping site. Make sure you follow the Nepal government and local rules.


For more detailed information about the treks please Contact us.