Day 11: Kongma La Pass: Chhukhung to Italian Pyramid

Crossing Kongma La Pass (5,535 m) is the longest and toughest day of the trek.

Distance: 11 km
Time: 9 hours
Night: Italian Pyramid

Start elevation (Chhukhung): 4,729 m
Max elevation (Kongma La Pass): 5,535 m
End elevation (Italian Pyramid): 4,995 m
Total ascent / descent: 968 m / 702 m
Elevation gain: 266 m


Thank you Captain Obvious.

Here we go.

Short break for a quick snack.

And on we go again.

And go even more.

Pity the lakes are covered with snow.

Are we there yet?

Kongma La

Finally there!

The views are breathtaking. (Altitude might be a part of it too.)

One of possible side hikes from the top of Kongma La Pass (if you're still have enough energy left at this point) is Pokalde (5,806 m), one of the so called "trekking peaks" of Nepal. It's a short, around 1.5 km hike (one way) south, with close to 300 m of elevation gain.

Pokalde summit route from Kongma La Pass. Route: quarryman, photograph: Jerome Ryan.

Another, more adventurous one goes north to Kongma Tse (5,849 m).

Map showing the layout to ascent Pokalde and Kongma Tse. Courtesy to Bill O'Connor: Trekking peaks of Nepal.


West slope is much steeper than east one - that's one of the reasons why its much easier to cross the pass from east to west.

Negotiating these boulders is another reason.

Everyone is tired, but this is not the end yet - there is still Khumbu Glacier to cross.

Khumbu Glacier

Actually, first it needs to be climbed on, then crossed through lots of twisty ups and downs...

...and then climbed again out of, before we are finally able to see promised end of today's hike in the form of Lobuche.

We have come a really long way.


But is it really the end?

Let's stay here!

Or do we go to Italian Pyramid instead? (Hint: yes we do!)

Italian Pyramid

The Italian Pyramid lies just a short 1.3 km hike north of Lobuche.

Watch for this sign on the way towards Gorak Shep, around 800 m after leaving Lobuche.

The Pyramid International Laboratory/Observatory high altitude scientific research center is located at 5,050 m (16,568 ft.) a.s.l., in the Khumbu Valley, Sagarmatha National Park, at the base of the Nepali side of Everest.*

Since 1990, it has been offering the international scientific community a priceless opportunity to study the environment, climate, human physiology and geology in a remote mountain protected area. To date, 520 scientific missions have been carried out there by 220 researchers from 143 different scientific institutions in several nations.*

An independent living unit on the south side of the Pyramid, built in typical Nepali lodge style, provides living conditions which meet the standards of the best alpine huts. Up to 20 researchers, technicians and logistical staff can be accommodated there.*

One of hidden secret is to stay overnight in Italian Pyramid instead of Lobuche (or Gorakshep). The price is almost the same as in Lobuche or Gorakshep (about 4000 rupees/person, but it includes food, shower and WiFi, and the conditions are much better than in lodges). And reportedly you should be polite when asking for the room, for rude or very-rich-looking trekkers they have prohibitive tariffs.*

The three-story glass, aluminum and steel structure, with its stable square-based pyramid shape [13.22 m x 8.40 m high], is equipped with advanced technological instrumentation and facilities, including telecommunications and internet. It is totally self sufficient, using only renewable energy provided by a large solar power system.*

Route map