For four weeks commencing 5th December, 2017, my hiking partner and I trekked the '3 High Passes' (3HPs) route, in Nepal's Sagarmatha National Park, beginning from the traditional trail-head of Jiri. Whilst the page title implies a return to Jiri, we actually exited at Shivalaya, 3-hours east of Jiri - Jiri is a toilet we didn't want to see a second time.
This page is a dump of some of the things we learnt on our travels, and is a follow-up to my Nepal Trip Planning page. View the photos here.
- Our altitude acclimatization plan (see Nepal Trip Planning: Altitude Plan) worked flawlessly - neither of us experienced any AMS symptoms whatsoever. We encountered several people who tried to rush things, and became ill. One person was forced to abandon her trek because she tried to rush things. Just don't.
- Almost all lodge / tea house mattresses were poor, but almost all lodges supplied a thick duvet which fixed the issue. Duvets were universally square in shape, so could be folded in half - either with you in the middle, or with both halves underneath. A supplementary sleeping mat was absolutely not required.
- Bedrooms were always a small, twin room - usually very basic, but tidy. Common-rooms were typically warm and pleasant, and often quite ornate.
- Bathroom / toilets were almost always awful. Often a 'Western' plus an 'Eastern' option was available - we quickly developed a preference for the latter, to minimise surface contact. Boots were often required in the bathroom / toilets, to facilitate 'wading'.
- Showers were commonly available, but invariably located in ice-cold basements. 'Hot water' was a bit hit-and-miss - check it before you pay for it. A bucket of water was often the best way to get a wash without getting hypothermia.
- We kept our devices charged with a 21W solar panel, which was completely satisfactory for two people in December (short days). Lodge-supplied charging was commonly available - for a high price. It was unclear as to what you needed BYO to be able to use lodge-supplied charging - a USB lead is probably mandatory, but PSUs or plug adapters might be supplied by the lodge.
- We always ate breakfast and dinner in our lodge (in fact dinner in your lodge is mandatory, unless you pay a hefty fee). We often skipped lunch (we were rarely anywhere at lunchtime that served food) - we would often stop for hot drinks, however. We never carried any snacks, and didn't miss them.
- Supposedly you should budget for 4-litres of water per-person-per-day at altitude. We never got anywhere near this. We followed our usual practise of bulk-hydrating before and after each days walking, and only ever carried 1-litre each during the day (supplemented by purchased hot drinks).
- We had budgeted for 3500Rs-per-person-per-day, but almost never spent this (and often spent much less). We only went over this once - on the way back through Namche Bazar (laundry, celebratory beers, etc.). If you want a hot shower, exotic foods, and / or lodge-supplied device charging every day, your budget will quickly inflate.
Bus To Jiri (Ratna Park, Kathmandu)
In December, 2017, the bus to Jiri departed from Ratna Park, Kathmandu's 'old' bus park. The entrance to the bus park is on the eastern side of the park. Bus tickets are purchased from the small sheds on the northern side of the park. Each shed specialises in a set of destinations, and the Jiri buses can be booked from the western-most shed (see photo). We purchased our tickets the evening before, and returned to the same shed the following morning to be directed to our bus. The lockable luggage compartment in the rear of the bus appears to be reserved for tourist luggage. This compartment is not well isolated from road dirt - put your pack in a sack, or be prepared for an absolutely filthy pack at your destination.
Gear List Evaluation
Selected gear list items, plus some notes.
|Backpack - Osprey Exos 51L
|Link. Perfect. If travelling on the buses, use a lightweight sack to wrap your pack.
|Bottom - Verso XT Trousers, Grey
|Link. These were heavier-duty than I'd normally use and were perfect for high Nepal.
|First Aid Kits (group 'serious' kit + personal 'consumables' kit)
|Having split kits was a great idea. I went through a truckload of throat lozenges. One item missing from our 'serious' kit was any kind of sponge-type item for cleaning up messy blood injuries (a head wound, in our case) - a few sanitary towels would've been good to carry for this purpose.
|Footwear - Down Slippers
|Nice, but of limited value. In stark contrast to most lodge bed- and common-rooms, toilet/bathroom facilities were generally pretty foul - I usually had to put my boots back on to go to the bathroom. Some waterproof/washable apres footwear would have been better.
|The heavy gloves I brought were not up to the job - not breathable, and cold once sweat-soaked. Invest in some decent ski gloves.
|Hat - Snood/Buff
|A useful piece of kit, but my merino one was too porous for adequate dust filtration. Most people used a polyester one.
|Hat - Ultra-Adventure
|Jacket - Goosedown, Marmot
|Link. This mid-weight, 700-fill-power down jacket was totally up to the job.
|Jacket - RAB Sleeveless
|Link. A great complement to the Marmot.
|Jacket - Raincoat
|Not used once.
|Jacket - Waterproof Over-Trousers
|Only used once (when my hiking trousers were in the laundry).
|Laundry powder was not required. Washing line was used a good deal.
|Lodge-supplied versions were invariably pretty rubbish.
|Sleeping Bag - Xt Anakiwa
|Link = rated -3°C / -9°C / -28°C - was totally satisfactory.
|Sleeping Mat - Foam
|Not required. Almost all lodge mattresses were poor, but almost all lodges supplied a thick duvet which fixed the issue.
|Snow / Ice Gear - Snow Zzang Instep Spikes
|Mandatory for Cho La.
|Solar USB Charger
|Our 21W one kept us self-sufficient despite the short, December days. Usually used to charge a pair of 6000mAh USB battery packs, rather than direct-to-device.
|The tiny towel I brought was just miserable in the cold. Bring something big enough to at least go around your waist.
|'Keep Warm' Pouch
|A soft case that could fit everything that had a battery. Kept in the foot of my sleeping bag overnight.
|Water - Aquamira
|Simple, chemical-based water treatment. Most people seemed to regret bringing filter-based products (which can freeze - and thus break - overnight), or ones that require batteries (which don't like the cold either). Don't forget to use treated water to brush your teeth!
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