Planning for the EBC and three passes trek - Things we wish we knew before

3 Things We Wish We Knew Before Doing EBC & 3 Passes Trek

The Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek is a popular activity among hardcore trekking enthusiasts. It’s also an aspiration of amateur trekkers who want to explore the Himalayan region. As trekkers, we have always wanted to explore the EBC on our own. So, we did thorough research about the trek and planned each and every day. In a place where there is hardly any internet and the trek lasts for over 2 weeks, such planning is required.

However, we did miss a few things, despite our best efforts, and underestimated a few things that turned out to be crucial. Like how we document our accomplishments, we decided to document things we wish we had known before going on the Everest Base Camp and the Three-Pass Trek. If you’re planning to go on the EBC trek, this article will help you with your planning. Let’s get right to it.

3 Important Things To Know Before Doing EBC & Three Passes Trek

1. Glacier Crossing

Crossing the glaciers was the most challenging part of the three passes trek. Since the glaciers are rapidly melting each year, the trail route changes. As a result, your offline maps of the trail might be outdated. Furthermore, cairns or the stones laid for navigation might seem confusing, and you will be misled into an old or wrong route altogether. 

During the Three-Pass Trek, you’ll cross two glaciers – Khumbu Glacier and Ngozumpa Glacier. Based on the route you choose, you’ll cross them before or after Kongma La and Cho La Pass. Also, you must walk past a small portion of the Khumbu Glacier to reach Gorakshep and the Everest Base Camp rock.

Khumbu Glacier Crossing near Gorakshep
Khumbu Glacier Crossing near Gorakshep

The Khumbu Glacier, near the Kongma La Pass, was quite challenging due to its location. There was no village between the pass and the glacier, forcing us to complete both on the same day. Trekkers also tend to get lost during the trek due to these challenges. Furthermore, you can’t cross the glacier at night with a headtorch due to the steep drops, boulders, and narrow ridges. For instance, we heard that a girl had fallen in the glacier at night and had to be rescued. Help is also difficult to find in such situations, especially if you trek in the off-season.

The best time to cross glaciers is during daylight in the first half of the day, as the water flow and the glacier’s melting rate are slow.

If you’re trekking during the peak season, you might get help from the people on the trail, while during the offseason, hire a guide from the tea house from where you start the day. Don’t worry. These stories are not to exaggerate the terrain or to scare you. You’ll be perfectly fine if you’re well-prepared, know what you’re doing, and have someone with you who knows how to go about the trek.

Refer to this article, where we’ve narrated what happened to us while crossing the Khumbu and Ngozumba Glaciers and what we did to overcome the challenges.

2. Weather

At higher altitudes, weather changes frequently and might seem erratic. However, getting constant weather updates is challenging due to the lack of network connectivity. For instance, the snowfall at the Renjo La Pass during the EBC trek surprised us. When we woke up at Gokyo, we saw snowfall on the Machchermo mountains and other surrounding peaks. As we were nearing the Cho La Pass, we encountered heavy snow which blocked visibility and the trail, making navigation challenging.

view of lake from renjola pass - TwinsOnToes
Snowfall at Renjo La Pass

So, check weather updates whenever you get a signal on your phone or before starting your trek for the day. You can also interact with people at tea houses and other locals. They will have the latest update as they are in touch with tour guides, porters, and more such people. Another alternative is to use satellite receptors like Garmin InReach, which will help you get live weather updates.

3. Satellite Mobile/ SOS Device

When we were struck at the Khumbu Glacier, having high-altitude insurance didn’t help. We couldn’t reach out for help as there was no signal reception. The only possible way to seek help was to call after we reached the nearby village. The only thing that would’ve helped during those times was having a satellite receptor-like Garmin InReach. The device sends SOS messages in case of emergencies.

A screenshot taken while hiking along the Ngozumpa Glacier
A screenshot taken from an offline mobile app while hiking along the Ngozumpa Glacier

We were three in number and were confident that we’d find the trail the next day. However, animals or rain would have made the night unimaginable. If you are traveling solo, we highly advise keeping an SOS device with you that’ll save you in unforeseen circumstances and emergencies, especially if you’re going on multiday treks, depending on the offline maps for navigation.

Find the list of other things that we carried on our EBC and three passes trek that weighed only 5 Kg.

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