The High Passes of Everest Trek: Namche to Chhukung Days 4 – 7

Previous Post: The High Passes of Everest Trek: Lukla to Namche Days 1 – 3

Namche to Chhukung satellite image – from bottom left to top right

Days 4 – 7 :

  • distance: 24 km
  • elevation (meters):  Namche 3440 to Tengboche 3860 to Dingboche 4410 to Chhukung 4730 to Chhukung Ri 5550 to Chhukung 4730
  • kml file of route: click on the download prompt in the top left-hand corner and open in Google Earth

Day 4: Namche To Tengboche

  • distance: 9 km
  • time: about 4 hours

Namche to Dingboche – Himalayan Maphouse map…hard copies available in Kathmandu

On Day Four we left Namche and headed up the trail on the west side of the Dudh Khola valley to the point where the Imja Khola meets it from its origins at the foot of Imja Tse.  Along the way, we passed through the spiritual heart of the Khumbu, the monastery village of Tengboche (also spelled Thyangboche in some guidebooks and reports), not to be mistaken for Pangboche or Dingboche, settlements further up the trail!

Mani Wall and our tent site above Namche at dawn

boy in upper Namche at 6:25 a.m.

mani wall and Himalaya peaks above Namche Bazaar

our trekking crew in a meditative mood at breakfast inside the lodge where we tented

the trail from Namche to Tengboche Monastery on the west slope of the Dudh Kosi valley

a view of the trail from Namche to Tengboche and its monastery

The trail from Namche is on the west side of the Dudh Kosi. The images above and below show a small section of it. Eventually, it leads down to the river itself, making a crossing on a suspension bridge. But before we descend, we pass through another small settlement. Tables sit on the side of the trail with souvenirs to tempt the trekkers passing by.

section of trail on the west side of the Dudh Kosi with a bridge on the bottom right

approaching a stupa on the way to Tengboche

souvenir yak bells tempt trekkers returning to Namche from higher up

souvenirs on a table on the trail to Tengboche

Crossing the bridge in the image below, we walked up the switchback trail to Tengboche. Coming up were its famous Gompa or Monastery and our tent spot for the night.

suspension bridge over the Dudh Kosi to Tengboche

trail-side huts with precious firewood stacked high

Tengboche satellite view

We arrived at Tengboche in the early afternoon. Our tents were already set up in front of the café/bakery not far from the settlement’s reason for existing – the Tengboche Monastery (Gompa in Tibetan). The monks there belong to the oldest of the various Himalayan Buddhist sects, the Nyingma.  [Tengboche Monastery’s history – a Wikipedia  entry.]

Construction on the original gompa was finished in 1916. Eighteen years later, it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt. It was not to last very long; in 1989, a fire would badly damage it.  It has been rebuilt again and is a major attraction for trekkers on the trail up to Gokyo or Everest or Imja Tse. A typical ritual involves the head monk bestowing blessings on Everest climbers before continuing their way up to Base Camp at the top of the Khumbu Glacier.

Tengboche Gompa complex (3860m) as you arrive on the trail- the spiritual center of the Khumbu region

looking down from the steps of Tengboche Gompa to the trekking trail beyond the gate

Tengboche Gompa (Monastery) gate from the gompa steps

prayer wheels at Tengboche with  workers behind

workers adjusting a decorative piece on the stupa with the gompa behind

looking out the main entrance of the gompa at Tengboche

our Exodus blue tents at Tengboche-  and the yellow tents from Phakding too!

Inside Tengboche Monastery’s Central Prayer Hall:

At around 4 p.m., we were ushered into the central prayer hall in the monastery and found places to sit around the periphery of the large and highly decorated room while the monks went through their daily chants and meditations. No videos were allowed; photos were okay. My camera struggled with the low light, but the images still helped me recall the feeling of sitting on the wood floor and listening to the bells and rhythmic chanting while the incense floated about the room.

inside the main hall at Tengboche Gompa

trekkers/pilgrims watch the service unfold at Tengboche Gompa

the scene during service at Tengboche Gompa

a moment during the service in the prayer hall at Tengboche Gompa

Tengboche prayer hall scene

Tengboche Gompa meditation ritual

the stupa (chorten) outside Tengboche Gompa- from the gompa darkness to outside light!

____________________________

Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche

  • distance: 11 km.
  • time;  3 hours
  • altitude gain: 550 m from Tengboche (3860) to Dingboche (4,410)

 

  • Tengboche to Chhukhung

Tengboche Gompa at 6:00 a.m.

Tengboche wall detail – Buddha figure in dancing Shiva-like pose

yaks still chillin’ at Tengboche at the beginning of a trekking day- and workers are back at the stupa for final touches

sign detailing climbing rules and expectations

bridge over the Imja Khola above Tengboche

a view of Ama Dablam from the trail near Dingboche

passing to the left of all chortens, stupas and mani walls

nearing Dingboche (4410m) on the route from Tengboche (Thyangboche)

Dingboche and the trails up the Khumbu Glacier and Imja Khola valley

Dingboche is the doorway to some of the world’s most iconic – and epic – mountain scenery.  It sits at the junction of two trails:

  • the trail going up the west side of the Khumbu Glacier to Everest Base Camp
  • the path going up the Inja Khola valley to Chhukung and Imja Tse (aka Island Peak)

____________________________

Day 6: Dingboche to Chhukung

Himalayan Maphouse map…hard copies available in Kathmandu

looking at the trail up ahead on the way to Chhukung

the tpathon the way to Chhukung

a simple bridge across the Imja Khola

the trail along the Imja Khola towards Chhukung, our tent site for the next two nights

Chhukung is made up of many trekkers’ lodges and serves those heading for one of the nearby climbing peaks, Inja Tse (aka Island Peak) being the most popular.  Base camp for that climb is seven kilometres up the valley, and the hike is sometimes made by trekkers.

Chhukung -Imja Khola valley

Chhukung with Island Peak further up the valley

Day 7: A Hike Up Chhukung Ri (5550m)

Like Day 3, Day 6 was an acclimatization day. The idea is to hike to a higher altitude during the day and then return for another night’s sleep at a lower one. The “Climb high, sleep low” mantra for trekkers is often built into itineraries followed by trekking agencies. It makes sense.

Already mentioned was the hike up the valley to Island Peak Base Camp at 5040m. It is located just above Imja Tsho, one of the fastest-growing lakes in the Himalayas, thanks to the melt of the two nearby glaciers.  The likelihood of a glacial lake outburst flood was strong enough that Nepalese Army engineers and local villagers constructed a canal that drained off some of the accumulating water and lowered the water level by some 3.4 meters in 2016.

Since the hike to Imja Tse Base Camp only involves an altitude gain of 310 meters, a better choice for acclimatization is Chhukung Ri, easily accessed from the lodges.

a view of Chhukung (4730m) from the hills above- our blue tents are visible on the bottom left

In the satellite image below, you can even see the well-trodden path up the spine of the hill right to its 5550-meter  summit. A total altitude gain of 770 meters had me occasionally stopping to catch my breath and pulling out my camera! Incredible views in all directions  -to the north the Nuptse ridge, east to Inja Tse, south to  Ama Dablam, west to Dingboche…One big WOW! I really should have done a short video of the scene!

the walk up Chhukung Ri (5550m)

a view of the north face of  Ama Dablam (6856m) from the top of Chhukung Ri (5550m)

Looking east up the Imja Khola valley with Amphu Gyabjen (5630m) on the right and Imja Tse (Island Peak) (6189m) on the left

The view from Chhukung Ri of our previous day’s walk up along the Imja Khola from Dingboche

We returned from our acclimatization hike around noon and spent the afternoon in the dining room of the lodge in whose yard we had tented.  I also took the opportunity to have a basic hot water shower in a small shed at one of the other lodges. At US$3. for a hot bucket of water – and at the cost of the wood that someone had hauled up to Chhukung from down below – it was an extravagance. However, it did feel great to wash off a week’s worth of dust and sweat.

_________________________

Crossing The First of the High Passes – Kongma La:

The trek continued with our crossing of the first of the three high passes, Kongma La and a walk across the Khumbu Glacier to Lobuche.  We walked up to Gorak Shep on our second day there and ascended Kala Pattar. The thin yellow line on the satellite image above shows the route. The following post has the details, maps, and photos.

Next Post: Chhukung to Kala Pathar Via Kongma La – Days 8 – 10

See also:

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