everest tibet trekking north face

Ice seracs, North Face of Everest, Tibet

Mount Everest’s northern flanks are an other-wordly setting of towering ice pinnacles on the Roof of the World. Our adventurous trek brings us to a spectacular camp at 21,000 feet.

Photo by Tom Shima

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Tibet: The World's Highest Trek

Hike to Camp III (21,100') on Mt. Everest
Repertory Trip: Next Offered May 29-June 27, 2016

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 30 days
Arrive: Kathmandu, Nepal
Depart: Kathmandu, Nepal
Lodging: 20 nights camping, 8 nights hotels, 1 night guesthouse
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 19-day trek on rugged steep trails, 4-8 hours a day, altitudes between 14,000-21,100 feet


  • Trek to 21,100' on Everest—the closest non-climbers can get to the summit of Everest
  • Follow the legendary route pioneered in the 1920s by British mountaineer George Mallory
  • Explore ethereal monasteries, holy lakes, pristine alpine valleys, and encounter nomadic herding families

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

Above the ice-clad realm of Camp III on the North Face of Everest unfolds one of world's most spectacular mountain panoramas: the huge rock palisades of Everest's Northeast Ridge, the wind-blown snows of the North Col, and most compelling of all, the instantly recognizable rock summit of Everest, or Chomolangma in the Tibetan language. The top of the world appears very close from here—and it is, only a little more than 8,000 feet above the high point of our trek. The surreal world of Camp III at 21,100 feet is the destination of The World's Highest Trek—the closest that non-climbers can get to the roof of the world.

This legendary route up the North Face of Mt. Everest was pioneered in the 1920s by British mountaineer George Mallory—who said he wanted to climb Everest "because it is there." On June 6, 1924, last seen above Camp IV heading toward the summit, Mallory and his friend Andrew Irvine disappeared into the mists of history. The legend of Mallory and Irvine is one of mountaineering's enduring myths, and the question of whether they died while still on the ascent or after having reached the summit intrigued mountaineers for 90 years. In 1999, an American expedition led by Conrad Anker located Mallory's body below Everest's Northeast Ridge.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-6
Kathmandu, Nepal / Lhasa, Tibet’s Holy City

After exploring Kathmandu’s colorful bazaars, we take a spectacular flight to Lhasa, Tibet. Our explorations here include the Potala Palace and the massive monasteries of the Lhasa Valley, and we mingle with Tibetan pilgrims in the Jokhang Temple.

Days 7-9
Shigatse (12,631') / Nyelam

Our journey across the Tibetan Plateau brings us across a rugged, stunningly beautiful landscape of villages, remote valleys, high mountain passes, and alluring views of the high Himalaya. We acclimatize with a hike to the holy lake of Dara Tsho (14,350').

Days 10-16
Shishapangma Trek

A seven-day warm-up trek brings us through beautiful high country to the south base camp of Shishapangma (26,397'), the world’s 14th highest peak. Our pace allows time for day hikes into beautiful remote side valleys. Shishapangma, just 50 miles north of Kathmandu, was the last of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks to be climbed and is the only one entirely within Tibet.

Day 17
Rongphu Monastery

We drive to Rongphu Monastery (16,450'), spectacularly situated below the northern base of Mount Everest. Dza Rongphu is acclaimed as the highest monastery in the world; it may well have provided some of the inspiration for James Hilton’s classic novel, Lost Horizon.

Days 18-25
Everest Base Camp to Camp III

Following the main Rongphu Glacier and the East Rongphu Glacier, we trek to Camp I (18,050') on Mt. Everest. To assure proper acclimatization, we camp at least two nights at an interim camp (19,000') between Camp I and Camp II (19,900'), spectacularly located below the glaciers spilling off Everest’s North Peak. Conditions allowing, we hike to our highest camp, Camp III (21,100'), below the mighty rock palisades of Everest’s Northeast Ridge.

Days 26-27
Return Trek to Everest Base Camp / Dingri Valley

We descend by the same scenic route back to Everest Base Camp, then drive to our final camp near the Dingri Valley.

Days 28-30
Return to Kathmandu

A beautiful overland drive brings us back to the warmth and greenery of Nepal, and we depart via Kathmandu on Day 30.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 7, Most Strenuous. Previous camping and trekking experience at 18,000 feet is required. Participants must be in excellent physical condition and submit a medical approval form signed by a doctor. The most difficult aspect of this trek will not be the trail conditions, but the altitudes we encounter. Trekking to 21,000 feet is a very strenuous endeavor. We spend more than half the trip hiking to help the group acclimatize for our final trek to Camp III.

In general, the trail conditions are no more difficult than those in other parts of Tibet or in Nepal. Our entire route, both on the warm-up trek to the Shishapangma region and on the trek to Camp III of Mt. Everest, can be negotiated by loaded yaks; there is no need to use crampons or ice axes on this trek. An average walking day will be 4 to 6 hours, not including a break for lunch. The maximum altitude gain or descent on any given day will be about 2,000 feet, and all hiking is at altitudes of at least 12,200 feet and much higher. If you are very fit and healthy, have successfully trekked above 18,000 feet and are willing to participate in the various exploratory hikes offered during this trek, your chances of reaching Camp III and beyond will be much greater.

However, every participant must understand that this trek is truly challenging. Even though trip members carry only a daypack (with camera, jacket, rain gear, water bottle, and other small necessities you may need while on the trail), we recommend you make a special effort to get in top physical shape for the trip.

There are also dangers inherent in any expedition traveling to remote wilderness regions, especially when they involve travel to high altitude. These dangers include everything from rock falls to the possibility of a serious fall, accident or sickness without access to the means of rapid evacuation. The availability of medical supplies or the adequacy of medical attention, once provided, cannot be guaranteed and cannot be expected to measure up to western standards. Each trek is an expedition. Although we are accompanied by a support crew staffed by experienced veterans of the Nepal Himalaya, it takes cooperation and flexibility from each participant to ensure a successful trek.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

May 29-Jun 27, 2016  Gary McCue

Trip Cost

Prices for this trip are being finalized. Contact us and we'll send them to you as soon as they are available. more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
90-46 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
  • Camp staff including pack animals and cooks
  • Group camping and cooking equipment including dining, sleeping and toilet tents, sleeping bags and pads
  • All land transportation, airport transfers for passengers on group flights

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare to/from Kathmandu, airport departure taxes, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, hotels en route to/from Kathmandu, any additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by international airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel and evacuation insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Gary McCue

Gary McCue literally wrote the book on trekking in Tibet and he has pioneered some of our most amazing Himalayan expeditions, including the In the Footsteps of Heinrich Harrer, a trek that retraces the final stretch of the journey of Heinrich Harrer, author of the classic adventure Seven Years in Tibet, and The World's Highest Trek, which brings trekkers up as high as 21,000 feet on Mt. Everest. Gary is the author of the definitive Trekking Tibet: A Traveler’s Guide, now in its third edition. "I have a "trek philosophy" known as laid-back trekking (LBT). In a nutshell, it's based on how the slower you go (as long as you don't come into camp in the dark!), and the closer to the back of the trek group you are, the more often amazing things tend to happen. One can race along the trails anywhere in the world and have mostly a view of the toes of their boots, but if you slow it down, you can take in the incredible surroundings and really experience what attracted you to a region in the first place." Gary's strong connection to the Himalayan people opens many doors. He speaks Tibetan, lived in Nepal for many years, and now resides in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, Australia.

Upcoming Trips:

In the Footsteps of Heinrich Harrer, September 6-28, 2015
Tibet: The World's Highest Trek, May 29-June 27, 2016

Client Testimonials:

Gary is excellent in every way. It was an incredible experience. Terry C., New Albany, IN Gary is the best. Everything you would want in a trip leader—knowledge, experience and fun. Randy R., Edgewater, MD Gary is the most competent guide I have experienced. One would be hard pressed to find a more personable and knowledgeable individual in the trekking business. Scott S., Fresno, CA
Tibet: The World's Highest Trek
Gary is a gem. His vast knowledge of the area's history and culture, as well as his numerous contacts, all added immensely to the trip. Karl G., El Cerrito, CA
Hidden Kingdom of Mustang
Gary was outstanding in every way. He's why I signed up for the trip. It was a long trek, and he made it worthwhile, every day! Bravo! Alan R., Santa Cruz, CA
Ultimate Manaslu