Cho La Pass, one of the Three Passes of the Everest Region, is undoubtedly one of the most unique and awe-inspiring trekking destinations. With so many adventures and unforgettable experiences, the region around Cho La Pass attracts thousands of tourists annually.
Located at a high altitude of 5420 meters above sea level, Cho La Pass offers majestic views of Mount Everest, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, Island Peak, and Cho Oyu. Similarly, the views of Khumbu Glacier, Khumbu Icefall, and Ngozumba Glacier are eye-pleasing.
The Cho La Pass is the best viewpoint for the scenery of the green hills down the landscapes, frozen lakes, glaciers, mountains, and sunrise and sunsets. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast or a passive trekker, Cho La Pass is one of the most intriguing destinations. Let’s explore Cho La Pass in detail:
Why Choose Cho La Pass For Trekking?
Here are some reasons why you should choose Cho La Pass for trekking:
The Cho La Pass Trek takes you through some of the beautiful destinations and viewpoints, where you can delve into the true beauty of nature. In the Himalayan beauty of the Everest Region, trekkers can have stunning views of Mount Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and Ama Dablam. Similarly, the picturesque valleys, glacial moraines, and icy landscapes attract more visitors.
The Cho La Pass Trek leads trekkers through diverse landscapes in the Everest Region. The trail to this destination starts from the lower Solu Region traversing through the lush green forests to Khumbu’s region and barren and rugged terrain. The uphill and downhill trail with river basins, valleys, and hills is worth hiking. Upon reaching Gokyo Valley, we can experience the beauty of Relama Lake, Renjo Tsho, and Gokyo Tsho.
Everest Region is a very rich region, whether it’s from the natural side or cultural side. Most people follow Buddhism in this area so that trekkers can indulge in the beauty and value of the culture, tradition, and history. With the help of local guides and porters, trekkers can get insights into people’s lifestyles and beliefs. Moreover, the Buddhist Monasteries around the region will help you know how it has been practiced for centuries.
To those who are looking for adventures in their life, Cho La Pass Trek is one of the must-do things. Since Cho La Pass offers pristine natural beauty to watch and several adventurous things to do, trekkers cannot deny the adventures it brings forward. Trekking to high altitude through glacial moraines, crevasses, rugged & uphill trails, and frozen lakes attract more.
Three Major Destinations:
The Cho La Pass is one of the Three Passes of the Everest Region. And if you are following the trail from the left side of Namche Bazaar via Thame, you must cross Renjo La Pass first. After that, you will reach Cho La Pass. While returning, trekkers can trail their route via Lobuche and reach the third pass, Kongma La Pass. This triple combination offers a comprehensive experience, showcasing the best of the region.
While trekkers lead their hike from the Thame side, they will reach Gokyo Valley, rich in frozen lakes. Gokyo Lake comprises five different lakes: Gokyo Cho (Dudh Pokhari), Thonak Cho, Gyazumpa Cho, Tanjung Cho, Ngozumpa Cho, and Longbanga Cho. The reflection of the surrounding mountain peaks dances on the surface of the lakes, offering trekkers pristine views to behold.
Varied Flora and Fauna:
The Cho La Pass lies within the protected land area of Sagarmatha National Park. Viewing and encountering diverse flora and fauna are very common in this zone. The changing vegetation of the Everest region brings heavenly beauty to your eyes, while the animal species are also worth watching. Sagarmatha National Park is home to several endangered animals, such as snow leopards, musk deers, martens, Himalayan Tahr, Himalayan Mouse Hare, and Red Panda. Similarly, around 118 species of birds are found in this National Park.
The Cho La Pass trek combines natural beauty, adventure, and cultural exploration. It is a compelling choice for trekkers who seek a unique and unforgettable experience in the heart of the Himalayas.
How Can We Reach Cho La Pass?
There are three routes to reach Cho La Pass in the Everest Region. However, all three routes start from Lukla and then divert from Namche Bazaar.
Trekkers must reach Lukla from Kathmandu via flight or public transportation to Cho La Pass. It takes around 45 minutes to reach Lukla Airport [Tenzing Norgay Airport] from Kathmandu. Similarly, the public transportation or jeep first takes you to either Salleri or Ramechhap before hiking to Lukla. It might take additional seven days to reach Lukla by trekking.
After reaching Lukla, the first thing is to prepare for the Cho La Pass trek via the Everest Base Camp route. This standard route takes you from Lukla to several Buddhist settlements, including Chheplung and Nurning. From Nurning, it only takes around an hour or a couple of hours to reach the next destination, Phakding.
From Phakding, we must traverse Monjo Village, where we can purchase the required permits for the trek. There is an Army Post, where we must go through legal formalities before embarking on the journey. From Monjo, the off-beaten trek with the vistas of Mount Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam continues. The hike through the lush green forests and Dudh Koshi River takes us to the gate of Everest, Namche Bazaar.
Namche Bazaar is where three different routes start and lead us to Cho La Pass. The first route is the standard Everest Base Camp Trek Route. It stretches towards Tengboche, where the ancient Tenboche Monastery lies. From there, we will continue our journey toward Dingboche via Pangboche and Somare.
Pangboche is also the popular destination where the centuries-old Pangboche Monastery sits. The trail then continues alongside the Imja Khola until we reach Dingboche. From this point, we will take a diverted route from the left side and head towards Dughla (4620 meters) and Dzongla (4830 meters). From Dzongla, we must commence our uphill trek through the remote and rugged landscapes to reach Cho La Pass at 5420 meters above sea level.
The second route to Cho La Pass starts from the left side of Namche Bazaar. It stretches towards the beautiful settlements of Phurte and Thamo. The trail continues through the Buddhist vibe offering settlements rich in mani walls, chortens, and prayer flags. There are several monasteries along the trail in Thame, and so on.
From Thame, the trail continues towards Marulung and Lumde. After crossing Lumde, the Gokyo Valley begins, and the scenery of frozen lakes is visible. The first lake we will reach is Renjo Lake, which offers a pristine beauty to the surroundings. Similarly, several lakes surround the region, including Relama Tsho and Gokyo Tsho.
Once we cross Renjo La Pass, one of the Three Passes of the Everest Region, we will reach Ngozumba Glacier and continue our journey to Cho La Phedi. We will rest and acclimatize before reaching Cho La Pass the next day.
The third route starts from Namche Bazaar and stretches up to Khyangjuma before it diverts towards Phortse Thanga and Dole from the left side. The trail continues towards Machhermo Village at 4470 meters and Phanga (4480 meters). Enjoying the scenes of the snow-capped mountain ranges and sparse vegetation, we will commence our journey toward Gokyo.
Upon reaching Gokyo, our trail joins the second trail we discussed above. We will hike towards Dragnag, Cho La Phedi, and then to Cho La Pass.
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Challenges of Reaching Cho La Pass
The one thing trekkers must acknowledge about reaching Cho La Pass is that it is a high-altitude location situated in the Everest Region. So with the high altitude, several obstacles, such as extreme weather conditions and uneasy terrain, exist in the region. But trekkers must traverse Cho La Pass to embark on their Three Passes Trek and Gokyo Valley Trek. What are the common challenges trekkers must go through on this journey? Find out!
The Cho La Pass is at 5420 meters above sea level, and such altitude is considered very concerning. Since the high altitude above 3000 meters poses significant risks of high air pressure, low oxygen, and thin air, it might lead trekkers to suffer from respiratory-related health issues. And many trekkers even suffer from altitude sickness and its other forms like HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) and HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema).
Weather and Climate:
Everest Region is very common to unpredictable weather conditions. This means the climate and temperature of this area can be harsh to survive human life. Especially during the off-peak trekking season like Monsoon and Winter, the weather gets extremely unstable with heavy rainfall and snowfall. The extremely cold temperature even can cause frostbite.
Moreover, other natural hazards, including avalanches, blizzards, landslides, and others, make navigation even more challenging.
While you set off on your journey to Cho La Pass, you need to be prepared with technical climbing skills too. Since the Everest Region with Three Passes have technically demanding region, trekkers must be very careful while trekking. The Cho La Pass itself is a prime example where trekkers need to make use of their technical climbing skills. The ice sheets and the slippery route make it difficult to navigate.
If you are following the trail from Namche Bazaar to Gokyo Valley to reach Cho La Pass, there is a large glacier that lies in between. Ngozumpa Glacier, which is very eye-pleasing to watch, is equally challenging to cross. It consists of many crevasses and goes through changing ice conditions. Hence, it makes trekkers very challenging to cross this section. Trekkers must have technical skills to pass through Ngozumba Glacier.
Remote Location and Scarce Lodging:
The trail to Cho La Pass is off-beaten and very remote; hence, means that the pathways and routes are rugged and sloppy. It surely makes navigation very challenging.
Moreover, the region is far beyond the reach of advanced technology, except for Namche Bazaar. In other places, people still carry their essentials from Namche. The same thing goes for lodging as well. There are only limited tea houses to accommodate, so if you are trekking during the peak season, you might run out of accommodation services.
The day-to-day itinerary of the Cho La Pass includes more than 6 hours of trek. And such a long hike in remote and rugged landscapes might be very hazardous to human health. That’s why we recommend every trekker has a strong physical build and stamina. Trekkers must also pack essential gear like sturdy hiking boots and trekking poles to help them easily navigate the strenuous route.
Frequently Asked Questions
How high is Cho La Pass?
Cho La Pass is one of the high-altitude passes in Nepal. It sits at 5420 meters (17,782 Feet) above sea level.
Where is Cho La Pass located?
Cho La Pass is located in the Everest Region of Solukhumbu District. It sits within the protected land of Sagarmatha National Park near the border with Tibet in the north.
Can I Reach Cho La Pass without a guide?
It is possible to reach Cho La Pass without a guide, but you must be a professional and experienced trekker honed with technical climbing skills. Trekking solo has been banned in Nepal, so you cannot embark on the Cho La Pass trek without a guide.
What is the best time to cross Cho La Pass?
Autumn (September to November) and Spring (March to May) are Nepal’s most favorable times for trekking. So, if you plan to embark on the Cho La Pass trek, these seasons are the best times. The weather and climate conditions are stable with clear visibility, which allows you to have a clear and majestic view of the surroundings.
Is a permit required to trek through Cho La Pass?
Yes, you must obtain Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit for Cho La Pass Trek. It can be acquired from Tourism Board in Kathmandu or Monjo Checkpost. It costs Nrs. 3000 for foreign trekkers, Nrs. 1000 for SAARC Nationals, and NRs. 100 for Nepalese trekkers.
What is the difficulty level of Cho La Pass Trek?
Cho La Pass Trek’s difficulty is challenging. Since the trail to Cho La Pass includes uphill trails, glacial moraines, glaciers, crevasses, and remote/rugged sections, trekkers must be physically, mentally, and prepared with gear. Also, they need technical climbing skills to traverse the Ngozumba glacier since the crossing crevasses are technically demanding.
What are the nearby trekking destinations accessible from Cho La Pass?
The nearby trekking destinations from Cho La Pass are Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Valley Trek. Destinations like Gokyo Ri, Gokyo Lakes, and Kala Patthar are popular in this region.
Are there any altitude-related risks when crossing Cho La Pass?
Cho La Pass is 5420 meters above sea level, so altitude sickness is a major concern during this trek. Trekkers might suffer from altitude sickness, including AMS, HACE, and HAPE. Trekkers must acclimatize and stay hydrated and energized throughout the trek to avoid such circumstances.
Is prior trekking experience necessary to cross Cho La Pass?
Yes, prior trekking experience is a must for reaching Cho La Pass. Without any experience in trekking in high altitude and remote trails, it is almost impossible to reach Cho La Pass.