The debate over which destination is better for hiking – Three Passes Trek or Everest Base Camp has been raging over for a few years. Although they are more alike in that they both lie in the Everest region and both are tremendously popular, there are still so many differences that don’t let them associate.
Both Everest Base Camp and Three Passes are primarily known for their astonishing views, sweeping landscapes, and unique geographical features. But, behind their amazing scenes, there are many challenges that trekkers have to overcome to reach the finishing line.
Trekking is more difficult in the trail of Three Passes than Everest Base Camp, with a larger walking through innermost reaches without human settlement. Rising up an altitude of 5,535 meters, Three Passes Trek is relatively more difficult than Everest Base Camp.
Trekkers can quickly run out of breath on the trail of Three Passes as it’s more inclined and rough. It also means that Everest Base Camp has more craze than the Three Passes as many trekkers navigate the trail. It’s even traveled by mountaineers climbing Mt. Everest and those visiting Kala Patthar and Island Peak.
Meanwhile, hikers traverse Three Passes to explore Gokyo Lakes, surrounding snow peaks and sweeping landscapes. Some smart travelers do take time from their busy days and manage to take a round trip of both places. But, it’s rare as they have to spend a lot of time on the trail, which is not feasible for all travelers.
Difficulties of Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Although it’s hard to assess which trek is more difficult between Three Passes and Everest Base Camp as both lie in the Khumbu region, it’s easy to see why trekkers hesitate a little bit to hike Three Passes. It may start easy, walking the same course as Everest Base Camp from Lukla, but the trail gradually gets tougher.
It traverses mountainous terrain filled with sharp rocks and boulders that draws all the energy. Hikers walking the trail quickly get tired and exhausted due to the continuous rising path. In Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp Trek, the effect of atmospheric pressure is more extreme on the former due to rapid exposure to higher elevation up to 18,100 ft.
It witnessed trekkers passing glacial moraine and over the Imja Tse before heading to Ngozumpa Glacier. The trails also cross Kongma La Pass, Cho La Pass, and Renjo La Pass to end up at Gokyo, from where the views are incredible.
Visitors will get to explore almost half a dozen tranquil lakes that have fed on glaciers. It includes Thonak Lake, Dudh Pokhari, and Gokyo Lake. They’ll get to enjoy the magnificent sight of Mt. Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Lhotse.
Meanwhile, trekkers don’t struggle on the trail of Everest Base Camp as much as they do on Three Passes. The trails indeed have a few ups and downs with some steep slopes and lofty hills, but that’s all it is. With many small settlements along the way, trekkers have plenty of places to stop over and have a break during the Everest Base Camp Trek.
It’s rare for hikers to suffer from extreme altitude sickness like hypoxemia and pulmonary edema. Most of them only show minor symptoms like headache, dizziness, and nausea since the impact of low oxygen is relatively less here.
The path heading to Base Camp is steep but not as rough as Three Passes. Most hikers only struggle while trekking on the course between Lobuche and Gorakshep due to loose rocks and frozen lakes. For the most part, they only have moderate hiking trails that pass through wild forests, remote villages, and river valleys.
Everest Base Camp Trek:
- Flight from Kathmandu – Lukla – Phakding
- Phakding to Namche Bazaar
- Acclimatization in Namche
- Namche to Tengboche
- Tengboche to Dingboche
- Dingboche for acclimatization
- Dingboche to Lobuche
- Lobuche to EBC via Gorakshep
- Gorakshep to Kala Patthar and back to Pheriche
- Pheriche to Namche Bazaar
- Namche Bazaar to Lukla
- Fly back to Kathmandu
Everest Three Pass Trek
- Kathmandu to Lukla to Phakding
- Trek from Phakding to Namche
- Acclimatization in Namche Bazar
- Namche to Tengboche
- Tengboche to Dingboche
- Dingboche to Chhukhung
- Chhukhung to Lobuche
- Lobuche to EBC via Gorakshep
- Gorakshep – Kala Pattar – Dzongla
- Dzongla to Gokyo Lakes via Cho La Pass
- Acclimatize in Gokyo and hike up to Gokyo
- Gokyo to Renjo-La Pass to Lunden
- Lungden to Namche
- Namche to Lukla
- Lukla to Kathmandu
Weather on Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Everest Base Camp is often pictured to have unpredictable weather, and so does Three Passes with low precipitation and temperature. High wind storms and snowfall are experienced at both treks, depending on the season. Frequently changing weather at both base camp and Three Passes makes the hike extremely difficult for travelers.
Hence, it’s no doubt that both these treks experience some significant changes in weather with the varied season. But, if compared, the weather in Three Passes is slightly more brutal than Everest Base Camp due to higher elevation.
Spring and Autumn are the most likable seasons for climbing Three Passes with pleasant weather and high temperature. It goes the same for Everest as well. They put up the best weather and marvelous scenery for hikers of base camp.
It’s around this time when the climate is warm and friendly, making it easy for trekkers to climb the way up to Kongma La Pass. Mild weather, clear views, and extra hours of daylight make the Everest Base Camp hike comfortable and easy.
The climate in winter at base camp varies from Three Passes, where trekkers have to bear the arctic cold. Travelers visiting base camp will also have to brave cold weather but not as severe as the other one. Even though it’s frosty, the weather is still bearable, and there are only a few sections that are layered in thick snow.
Meanwhile, During Three Passes, visitors are required to walk beside the glacial moraine of Ngozumpa and navigate the rocky terrains that are hidden in thick snow. Walking the trail is hard during the season as it’s super sticky and sloppy. In winter, the average temperature at Everest Base Camp ranges from -6 to -13 Degree Celsius, whereas at Three Passes, the temperature drops up to -19 Degree Celsius.
Acclimatization on Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp
With the trail going continuously upward, trekkers will have to dedicate some of their time to physical fitness and well-being at Everest Base Camp and Three Passes. Trekkers will have to acclimate before climbing high to adjust to new climatic conditions and weather.
Trekkers of Everest Base Camp are usually recommended to take a rest at least three times throughout the trip. However, some pro trekkers find the trail to base camp easy, so they skip a day or two and ascend the trail without a break.
Meanwhile, for trekkers of Three Passes, there’s no option for escaping the acclimatization, especially when they have higher chances of suffering from altitude sickness. Trekkers have to take a full rest before going to a higher altitude where there’s low barometric pressure.
Visitors trekking both Three Passes and Everest Base Camp stops at Namche Bazaar for acclimatization. After that, trekkers have to take different trails, while Everest Base Camp visitors take a day off at Dingboche; trekkers at Three Passes stop at Chhukung Valley.
Trail running to Chhukhung from Dingboche is sheer and runs from the edge of the valley, which is exhausting for anyone. Adding more trouble, the paths are filled with rock, debris, and ice sheets which is why they have to relax before facing the challenges.
Leaving aside a few hikers, almost every climber here also acclimatizes at Gokyo before heading up. They spend their days visiting the Gokyo Lake and ascending the path to Gokyo Ri, which provides an astonishing view of surrounding snow-capped mountains and glacial lakes, and rocky hills.
Cost of Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp
If you think there’s a huge difference in the price of Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp, then you’re mistaken. The price gap between the treks doesn’t even come to notice unless trekkers look closely at it.
The cost for Three Passes Trek can range from US$1,400 to US$2,000, depending on various factors. Our package costs only $1425.
The trek itinerary can also cause a significant change in the cost of the Three Passes Trek. It means the longer you intend to stay in the region, the higher it’s going to cost.
Our Everest base camp trek package costs $1220.
Accommodation and food also affect the price of Three Passes Trek and Everest Base Camp. Since there are not many settlements on the trail of Three Passes, they’ll have to carry tents and sleeping bags which causes the rise in cost.
But, then again, they don’t have to pay the charges of tea houses which cost US$4 to US$6 per night. At higher elevation, it costs even more due to fewer accommodation options. Snacks and drinks are only available in the lower region so, trekkers of both Everest Base Camp and Three Passes will have to pay an equal amount.
However, for hikers of Everest Base Camp, there are more choices for dwelling. From guest houses to homestays and tea houses, trekkers can book a room anywhere they like in the lower region. But, after going at a higher altitude, they’ll have no options but to stay in a tea house which costs around US$3 to US$5 and more.
Trekkers will also have to pay US$30 for the trek permit of Sagarmatha National Park and an extra US$10 for TIMS. Hiring a porter and guide can cost anywhere from US$25 to US$30. If you exceed the backpack’s weight by more than 25 kg, expect to pay even more.
And hiring a guide will cost you $30-$35 per day.
Flying from Kathmandu to Lukla will cost them an amount worth US$150 to US$200. If they choose to fly the town via private helicopter, the cost will rise with a total sum of US$400 for a maximum of 5 people. It means each passenger onboard will incur a cost of US$600 or more, depending on the number of travelers.
Crowds at Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp
Considering that the Everest Base Camp is the most visited trek destination, it’s more crowded than Three Passes. Trekkers from far across the world traverse their trail to catch the magnificent view of Mt. Everest along with Ama Dablam Cho Oyu and Nuptse.
Those who have come to visit Kala Patthar or ascend the summit of mt. Everest and even Island Peak walk the main EBC trail. As a result, the trek route of Everest Base Camp remains busier as compared to Three Passes.
There are more traffic jams on the main EBC trail, making it inconvenient for hikers. Most of the hikers aren’t able to reach the destination on time as visitors block the paths. It’s hard to maintain the pace on such trails and even enjoy the privacy.
On a positive note, trekkers of Everest Base Camp will never feel alone as they’ll always have someone to accompany them. Accommodation and food will surely be a problem with more trekkers on the journey, but if you learn to cooperate, that won’t matter.
On the other side, Three Passes offers a more peaceful walking path to the trekkers. Since not many hikers take the long walk to Gokyo and instead pave their way from the EBC trail, it’s more quiet and pleasant.
The trails are, of course, difficult but not impossible to navigate. Trekkers have to hire a trekking guide or porter who can guide them along the path as it’s tough to get a company on Three Passes. The accommodation also gives them a tough time as there are barely any villages above Dzongkha.
Accessibility of Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp
To a greater extent, Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp is quite similar to each other. They both kick off from Lukla and make their way through Phakding and Namche Bazaar. Unfortunately, the trek ahead splits up, with the walk to Three Passes becoming more difficult and strenuous.
As a multi-day trek, Three Passes has a more challenging walking trail that is rugged and uphill. Trekkers get easily tired after Chukhung as the paths are steeper and narrow. Of course, a lot override sharp rocks, moraines, and valleys that can’t be easily traversed.
They take several hours of walking along with strong physical stamina and endurance power. The trail heading to Lobuche via Kongma La and Gokyo through Cho La Pass is jagged with continuously elevated crust, stones, and rocks.
Hikers have to climb the mountain ridges and cross several bridges to arrive at Gokyo. Since there are only a few settlements on the Dzongkha and Lungde, they have to spend the night at a tented camp.
Compared to Three Passes, Everest Base Camp is more easily accessible with shorter trek routes. It treats the hikers fairly by providing them a trekking route within reach and has not many difficulties. They start the trip in a big way by taking a flight to Lukla that’s scenic and comes with a mesmerizing view.
From Lukla, trekkers have to climb up the hillside to Phakding and then Namche Bazaar. En route, they have to cross multiple suspension bridges, pass several villages and craggy hills. After a day off at the Sherpa town, they head to Tengboche with a gentle uphill walk which takes 5-6 hours depending on the speed.
The trail running to Dingboche is slightly steep with stone stairs but not as bumpy as Three Passes. Most hikers struggle to navigate the route from Dingboche as they are uneven and crammed with large stones.
The low barometric pressure at the high altitude also makes the trek to Everest Base Camp difficult but not inaccessible. They can even walk the trail of Everest Base Camp but with a bit more precaution and preparation.
Preparation of Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp
Preparation for Three Passes Trek vs Everest Base Camp trek is very much the same. Trekkers have to come prepared before each hike since walks have uneven paths with mountainous terrain and lofty hills. They’ll have to spend a good amount of time in the gym to keep themselves ripped.
However, the physical training for Everest Base Camp is different from Three Passes. While trekkers can go a little easy on the Everest Base Camp trek exercise, excuses can’t be made for Three Passes Trek.
Assessing physical fitness, they’ll have to plan a workout program that helps them increase the strength in major muscles and build endurance power. They have to spend at least a month on cross-training and exercise to stay fit and in top shape.
Not just that, they’ll also have to improve their balance which can be done with the help of cardio exercise. Jogging, cycling, brisk walking, and running will help a lot in developing physical stamina.
Apart from that, they’ll also have to take a few short and long walks, if possible, on different terrains. In that way, they’ll be able to beat the jagged trails of Three Passes without any difficulty.
For Everest Base Camp, trekkers don’t have to follow intense workouts or spend hours and hours in the gym. Since it’s moderate trekking, they can follow regular exercise and keep the body in shape so that there won’t be a lot of trouble walking the path.
Trekkers can spend less than a month on athletic training and diet to easily defy the zigzagged trails. It’s even better if they also take a few short hikes. In that way, they won’t get exhausted even while climbing the steep hills.