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March 2012 - Online Extras

Everest Confidential: Three Passes Route, Map and Trip Planner

See the Himalayan giants—and cross three passes more than 17,000 feet high—on this off-the-radar route through the Khumbu region

THREE PASSES LOOP
To see the full trip report, go to backpacker.com/hikes/1446214.

TRIP PLANNER
Getting There
From Kathmandu, the best way is to fly to Lukla on Yeti Airways (from $100, one way; yetiairways.com). Reserve tickets ahead of time or through your hotel in Kathmandu. Expect long delays, sold out flights, and pushy chaos at the airport. The most hassle-free method: Pre-book a room at a hotel with guide connections, like the Terrace Hotel (terracenepal.com), where the staff can arrange the tickets your flight to Lukla before you even land in Kathmandu, pick you up at the airport, and also help you pre-purchase your TIMS independent trekking permit ($10; taan.org.np), or buy medical insurance for your porter ($35; required but not enforced) if you hire one in Lukla.

Season The two hiking seasons are mid-March through early May, and October. Autumn boasts the clearest skies, but lodges in the high villages around the Everest corridor may be entirely booked by commercial trekking groups. April has slightly fewer crowds, but an increased chance of clouds obscuring the views and a bit more atmospheric haze. At other times, the passes are more likely to become unsafe because of snow conditions, and the views obscured by clouds. Certain key lodges can be closed, though crowding is a non-issue.

Schedule Give yourself an absolute minimum of 20 days going clockwise, 19 going counterclockwise. Ideally, budget four full weeks to give yourself time for side trips, weather delays, and sick days, plus three extra days before your flight leaves from Kathmandu as a buffer against flight delays in Lukla. Total time: about 30 days.

Altitude Take it easy. Sleep no more than 1,000 feet higher each night, and spend two nights at the same altitude every three or four days whi

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