One of the most popular trekking destinations on earth, Nepal is home to many of the tallest mountains on earth. Its stunning landscape is a mixture of rock, snow, grasslands and, above all else, stunning vistas.
Fluttering prayer flags are often the only sound that can be heard and the pristine wildness makes trekking in Nepal a completely unforgettable experience.
One of the most rewarding experiences in Nepal is crossing high mountain passes. These passes are often the highest altitude points you reach on your trek and the views are always no less than breath-taking.
To give a sense of what some of the best passes in the Himalayas are, we have put together a list of our favourite ones!
Top 6 Passes in the Himalayas
1. Thorung La Pass (5416m)
Thorung La Pass is, without doubt, Nepal’s most famous mountain pass. Sadly, in 2014, it what the scene of a major tragedy when a severe blizzard hit the upper reaches of the Annapurna Circuit, killing dozens of trekkers, guides and porters. Even when the weather is clear, the Thorung La Pass is no easy option as the trail climbs over 2,000 metres in a very short space of time. Trekkers will usually spend at least several days climbing the step section to avoid altitude sickness. The reward of course is a view that will last with you a life time. You can see over the entire Annapurna range and across the great Barrier Ridge. Amazingly, there is actually a little tea shop at the pass that serves some of the most welcome cups of tea in the entire Himalaya region – although they do charge a hefty amount!
2. Cho La Pass (5420m)
Whilst most trekkers choose to hike the Classic Everest Base Camp trek, the more energetic hikers venture west towards the Gokyo Region. Here, set among beautiful blue lakes and green valleys, is Cho La Pass. Perched between the snow capped summits of Cholatse (6443m) and Lobuche (6135m), Cho La Pass provides a dramatic scramble for its trekkers who have to negotiate loose boulders and scree before arriving at the pass itself. You’ll want a wide angle lens for this particular pass as the views down through the valley perfectly frame the mighty peak of one of the most beautiful mountains, Ama Dablam (6856m).
3. Kongma La Pass (5535m)
The Kongma La Pass is the highest of the three passes that join the high valleys in the Khumbu region. The trek is not easy and is a constant battle of balancing on loose and scattered stones. You’ll be with a guide usually as the trail is only loosely marked and the pass can sometimes be covered in snow. The views are simply spectacular! You can see two 8,000 metre peaks from the pass – Lhotse (8516m) and Makalu (8481m). The descent is just as harrowing as the ascent as you practically tumble back down a vertical slope of loose scree! Your rewarded at the bottom though with the Khumbu glacier.
4. Sherpani Col (6145m)
This is a fairly remote part of Nepal and you’ll be well away from the hordes of trekkers that plague the more popular routes in the region. However, the crossing from the Arun Valley to the Khumbu Valley is anything but easy and only a handful of trekkers brave the route from Makalu Base Camp to the Sherpani Col. Standing at 6,145 metres, this is one the highest trekking points in Nepal and you’ll need to make sure you’re well acclimatized before tackling it. The crossing is actually part of the 1700km Great Himalayan Trail which runs the entire length of the country. The crossing is not for the faint of heart and you’ll need some experience with crampons, ice axes and fixed ropes. However, few views in Nepal can match those at Sherpani Col. You’ll get a stunning vista over the snowfileds atop the Barun Glacier.
5. Renjo La Pass (5345m)
If it’s views of Everest you want then look no further than Renjo La Pass. Perched above the western shore of Dudh Pokhari, Renjo La Pass offers views of Mount Everest that outstrip even those seen at Kala Pathar! After staring for a long time you’ll need to make the very steep descent back down to the Thame Valley. Both the ascent and descent are made on slippery scree that needs careful negotiation – especially if you are carrying heavy gear.
6. Larkya La Pass (5135m)
Located in the beautiful Helambu district, the ascent of Larkya La Pass is on a windy and rocky trail that takes several hours. The views from the top are probably the best in the region! You can see the gorgeous Larkya Peak and also several Himalaya giants including Manaslu and and Ratna! The descent is beautoful in its own right as you’ll see lovely frozen lakes and long deserted villages. The path is often covered in ice and you’ll need to descend slowly.
If you have any further questions about any of the Himalaya passes mentioned, please just leave a note below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Tags: Passes in the Himalayas, Himalaya Passes, Himalayan Passes