Days 4 – 6 on the Everest Three High Passes trek departs Namche and begins the climb towards the first pass. But first, an epic Ama Dablam Base Camp side-trip is in order.
After Namche Bazaar, Three Passes trekkers will head towards Milinggo, Panboche, and Dingboche, with time for the Ama Dablam Base Camp as an extra side trip.
The typical Three Passes trek itinerary usually stops in Tengboche. However, walking a little further to Milinggo means that it’ll only be a short stretch to Panboche, giving hikers enough time to tackle Ama Dablam base camp.
Three Passes: Trekking Ebook
Since internet connectivity is limited in the Khumbu, I’ve written a comprehensive trekking guide to the Three Passes which you can download as an eBook for use on your mobile, tablet, or e-reader.
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Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Milinggo
- TREKKING TIME: 5 HOURS
- ALTITUDE: 750M ASCENT 450M DESCENT
- SLEEPING ALTITUDE: 3800M
After a comfortable day trekking without your pack to the Sherpa villages, it’s time to continue onwards and upwards towards the giants that await in the Three Passes Trail.
While many trekkers on the Three High Passes and Everest Base Camp trails tend to stay in Tengboche, I’d recommend the extra hour walk to Milinggo.
This is because staying in Milinggo will place you much closer to Panboche, without gaining significant altitude. It might be tempting for eager trekkers to walk all the way to Panboche from Namche Bazar for an even earlier start on Ama Dablam base camp. However, this will really push your altitude limits for the day.
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Namche Bazaar to Tengboche
There are a few options available for trekkers looking to get to Tengboche from Namche Bazaar. The most direct trail picks up at Chhorkung, just beside the mani boulder.
Follow the trail around the ridge and follow the obvious trail. Eventually, you’ll reach Kyangjuma, where you can stop to get some hot water for your porridge or buy some hot tea.
Continue onwards for roughly 15 minutes until you reach a trail crossing known as Sanasa. You’ll need to observe signs here and take the rolling trail downhill beside the river towards Tengboche.
Following the trail, trekkers will drop gradually down the valley, each descending step a nuisance knowing you’ll have to make up for it further up towards Tengboche. Eventually, you’ll reach the bottom of the valley at Phunki Thenga.
Prepare for a steep climb to Tengboche
Fill up your bottles before crossing the bridge and consider having a quick bite to eat. The next ascent is fairly tiring.
After crossing the suspension bridge, there is another regional checkpoint where you’ll need to show your passes. Start the steep, 2-hour ascent up and around the mountain towards Tengboche bypassing the water flowing through the prayer wheels on your right.
The trail is steep but very wide. Depending on the time of year, it’ll most likely be a crowded walk as you’ll be sharing the path with Everest Base Camp trekkers.
Eventually, you’ll reach Tengboche, marked by a kani and some iconic prayer wheels.
Tengboche is made famous for being more than just a popular lodging village. It also houses the largest monastery in the entire Khumbu region.
If timing serves you well, it’s possible to enjoy a quiet walk through the monastery and even attend the daily prayer ceremonies at 5 AM and 3 PM.
Remember to respect Buddhist customs and take off your boots (you can wear socks if it’s too cold) and refrain from taking photos inside the monastery.
Tengboche to Milinggo
If you’re set on the Ama Dablam Base camp day-trip, then you’re best off leaving Tengboche and heading for Milinggo.
Continue downhill through the rhododendron forest, and take care not to slip as this part of the downward trail can get icy in the afternoons.
As the path drops and the forest clears, you’ll begin to see the extent of the earthquake damage still present on the trail. Remember to take care and stay uphill of any animals of burden.
After 15 minutes of trekking, you’ll arrive at Debuche. There are several lodges in this smaller town, which is another popular place for trekkers to stop. It’ll also be the same sleeping altitude as Milinggo.
A little further past the town of Debuche is a quaint little nunnery. It’s possible to make a quick stop to have a chat and admire the murals and paintings inside.
After only another 15 minutes of trekking along the steep and eroding cliff, you’ll reach Milinggo. This is a very small village with only a handful of smaller lodges on the hill-side of the road.
Another good reason to stay in Milinggo over the other popular EBC trail lodges is that you’ll get a fairer price and most likely a more authentic lodging experience.
RELATED: Three Passes Packing List
Day 5: Milinggo to Panboche and Ama Dablam Base Camp
TREKKING TIME: 6 HOURS
ALTITUDE: 850M ASCENT 670M DESCENT
SLEEPING ALTITUDE: 3930M
Trekkers will need to aim to leave Milinggo early in order to get a full acclimatization day in at Panboche and complete the Ama Dablam Base Camp hike.
It’s only a short 45-minute to one-hour trek to reach Panboche. Continue along the steep, eroding cliffside, crossing a suspension bridge after roughly 20 minutes.
If you look below, the remains of a destroyed suspension bridge rest at the edge of the river. A concerning reminder of the power of Himalayan earthquakes.
Just past the bridge, there is a powerful scene as the early morning light hits a stupa which is positioned perfectly under the soaring Ama Dablam peak.
Panboche, also spelled Pangboche, is a small Khumbu town split by an upper and lower village. I’d advise getting straight into a lodge in the lower section of Panboche, grabbing a bite to eat and dropping off your bags.
Ama Dablam Base Camp Day Trip
The Ama Dablam Base Camp trek is a perfect acclimatization hike from Panboche. Normally, trekkers on the Everest Base Camp and Three High Passes treks would stay in Tengboche or neighboring villages for two nights to help with acclimatization.
Choosing to head straight to Panboche and completing the Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek will mean that you’ll get a little more altitude, and not have to stay in the same village for two nights.
However, if you decide you want to hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp, it is highly recommended to take the acclimatization day and hikes near Namche Bazaar, as outlined in the previous post.
A note: Completing the Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek will take you to an altitude of 4580M. Many hikers may begin to feel signs of AMS. It’s important to monitor symptoms and ascend slowly.
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Ama Dablam Base Camp Trail
The start of the Ama Dablam Base Camp trail beings next to Sonam Lodge, at the end of Panboche village. Look out for a sign that points towards the trail that descends to the Dudh Kosi.
At the bottom, you’ll cross a bridge and begin a steep climb, passing grazing yaks.
On the beginning of the hill climb, there is no obvious trail. Your goal will be a row of prayer flags at the top of the first hill. Continue upwards on the steep sloping grassy hill until you reach them.
The next section has several sandy patches and is relatively flat. There will be patches where the trail is not so obvious. However, you’ll be able to see along the plateau. Continue in the same direction and keep an eye out for points where the trail stands out.
The last section winds up a hill and climbs steeply beside a section of flowing water.
Soon, roughly three hours after leaving Panboche, you’ll be at the foot of one of the most picturesque mountains in the world, Ama Dablam.
Returning to Panboche
After spending some time resting and admiring Ama Dablam, take the same trail town towards Panboche for a well-deserved serving of Dahl Baht and lemon tea.
Day 6: Panboche to Dingboche
TREKKING TIME: 3 HOURS
ALTITUDE: 460M ASCENT 30M DESCENT
SLEEPING ALTITUDE: 43600M
After the big hike to Ama Dablam base camp, you’ll be ready and acclimatized to continue on your Everest Three High Passes journey.
Continue on past the Ama Dablam base camp trail and follow the main Periche track all the way to Dingboche.
It’s a relatively short 3-hour stint. It’s also a very gentle climb with long flat sections. This part of the Three High Passes trek is one of the most enjoyable.
After about 2 and a half hours, you’ll reach a small bridge. Cross it and continue another thirty minutes until you reach the surprisingly large village of Dingboche.
Most trekkers heading straight to Everest Base Camp will usually stay in Periche on the other side. Therefore, Dingboche and the connecting trail will be a refreshing peaceful change to the crowded trails below.
Dingboche is also a great place to spend the night. The sun lingers longer in the afternoon and there are some fantastic lodges and bakeries.
In Dingboche, there is a great lodge and bakery known as Cafe Himalaya. They have great deals whereby if you spend 300 rupees, you can charge your phone or electronics for free. You can also buy yesterday’s bakery treats for only 150 rupees, which is a steal in the mountains. Nothing like day-old apple pie warmed in the microwave after a day of trekking in the snow.
Acclimatization Hike in Dingboche
Due to the relatively easy and short stroll up to Dingboche, trekkers might want to push on and complete an acclimatization hike in Dingboche.
One great option is to take the steep climb up the Dingboche north ridge to a viewpoint that sits at 5070M. This is a pretty big push, so if you’re feeling any signs of AMS, then I wouldn’t recommend going all the way to the top. Instead, you can stop at the Nangkartshang Hermitage or the meditation cave of Sange Dorje.
You’ll notice the trail winding up the mountain towards a group of prayer flags and chortens to the West. It’ll take roughly 2.5 hours to reach the top viewpoint, indicated by a tall mast and prayer flags. It’s a steep ascent that winds up and around large boulders all the way up the ridge.
From the top, you will have sweeping views of Ama Dablam, Taboche, Cholatse and Makalu. You’ll also get to see the trail that leads all the way to Chhukung, your next destination on the Everest Three High Passes Trek.
Keep Reading the Everest Three High Passes Trekking Guide
That’s it for the Three High Passes guide days 4 – 6! Keep reading in the next articles below.
Also, don’t miss this Three Passes itinerary for a run-down on everything you’ll need to know before heading out on the Three High Passes Trek.