Khumbu Himalaya Nepal
The Khumbu Himalaya of north-eastern Nepal is more commonly known as the ‘Everest Region’. It is part of the Solukhumbu District, which in turn is part of the Sagarmatha Zone. Khumbu is the principal of three sub-regions of the Sherpa settlement of the Himalaya and includes the town of Namche Bazaar as well as the villages of Thame, Khumjung, Pangboche, Pheriche, Khunde and the famous Buddhist monastery at Thyangboche. It is bounded on the west by the valley of the Bhote Khosi by which it is separated from the neighbouring Rolwaling Himalaya, and to the east by the mighty Arun River. Its northern border with Tibet runs right along the summit ridge of the main Himalayan crest.
The highest mountain in the Khumbu Himalaya is, of course, Mount Everest at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), the highest mountain in the world. Everest is just one of four 8,000 metre peaks here, the others being Lhotse, 8,516 metres (27,940ft), Makalu,8,463 metres (27,766ft) and Cho Oyu, 8,188 metres (26,864ft). There are several 7,000 metre peaks of which the highest is Nuptse, 7,861 metres (25,791 ft), and a wealth of 6,000 metre peaks, the best known of which are probably Ama Dablam, 6,812 metres (22,349ft) and Kangtaiga, 6,782 metres (22,251ft).
The main river draining the region is the Dudh Kosi, flowing south and fed by several triburary rivers whose sources lie in the glaciers of the Khumbu, Imja Khola, Ngozumba and Bhote Kosi valleys. The Dudh Kosi valley provides the main access into the region be it either over and across its western flanks from the roadhead at Jiri or by the shorter approach to the Hilliary built airstrip on the valley’s eastern retaining wall at Lukla. Progress northwards from Lukla along the main trail leads to the town of Namche Bazaar, 3,440 metres, beyond which the way diverges into either the Khumbu Valley, along its glacier to Everest Base Camp, the Gokyo Valley containing the Ngozumba glacier and its charming lakes, or the Imja Valley at the head of which is a cirque of glaciers sandwiched between the slopes of Lhotse, Baruntse and Ama Dablam.
At its head, overlooked by the striking peaks of Nuptse, Pumori, Khumbutse and Lingtrense, the Khumbu Glacier is fed by the much documented and complex icefall that tumbles out of the Western Cwm from the eternal snow slopes of Everest and the neighbouring Lhotse. At the head of the Gokyo Valley are the great peaks of Cho Oyu, 8,188 metres (26,864ft) and Gyachung Kang, 7,952 metres (26,089ft); these mountains tower over a huge glacial basin feeding the Ngozumba Glacier and its five fresh water lakes. The Gokyo lake system is naturally vulnerable; lying in an ecologically fragile and unstable zone, its very existance being under constant threat from the outburst of the Ngozumpa glacier.
Although strikingly beautiful, the Imja Valley is probably the least visited of all, particularly east from its main village of Dingboche. The valley beyond Dingboche and the lodges at Chhukhung are mainly the preserve of the climber and those who attempt the ascent of Imja Tse, or Island Peak, 6,189 metres, a popular climb in the region. Chhukhung is also the arrival point of expeditions exiting the Hongu Valley to the south over the 5,845 metre Amphu Laptsa Pass.