Chola Pass Trek – 5 Must-Know Tips for Novice

How difficult the Chola Pass Trek is for novice trekkers?

at snowy trail of Chola pass in our everest basecamp, gokyo ri, chola pass trek
Pic: Trekkers collecting the adventurous memories of Chola Pass.

The Chola Pass trek is a tough and difficult trek, especially for beginners. Attempting a difficult trek such as Chola Pass unprepared can result in a multitude of issues. The combination of high elevation, strenuous physical activity, and variable weather can be dangerous and hinder an enjoyable experience.

In view of the above, it is recommended that people with no trekking experience at all should go through some easier and lower altitude walks before setting off to Cho La Pass. It can prove dangerous, leading to discomfort and/or health issues or jeopardizing the completion of the trek itself. But if you really want to do Chola Pass, you should think about getting someone experienced to go with you and also prepare well with the right acclimatization days to increase safety and success.

Some suggested introductory trek before the Chola Pass Trek

Some of the trekking suggestions for novice trekkers before the Chola Pass trek can be:

1. Everest view trek:

Everest panorama view trek
Pic: Prayer flag waving toward the panoramic view of Everest Region during Everest View Trek

Using Everest View Trek as the gateway trek to make a tack on Chola Pass Trek is a clever choice. It will give you a good experience for high-altitude trekking and will make you understand the difficulty of Cho La Pass. Here’s how using the Everest View Trek as a preparatory experience can benefit you:

  1. Altitude Exposure: The Everest View Trek goes up to Tengboche at 3,867 meters. This puts you at a higher altitude, starting the acclimatization process, which is important for tackling even higher elevations such as Cho La Pass.
  2. Physical Conditioning: Climbing up and down the hilly terrains in this trek gives you good training to enhance leg muscles, stamina, and physical fitness. This training will come in handy while tackling Cho La Pass’ steeper inclines. This trek will also be the inflection point to see oneself, at what extent one could make his/her endurance, and what physical regime one can decide for him/her.
  3. Acclimatization Practice: The Everest View Trek has an incremental ascent that allows acclimatization. You won’t forget the stunning views of Everest; which will be an image in your mind forever and also the heartwarming vineyards you will pass by on the way to Lobuche, all this experience will turn out to be a great warm-up before the rapid altitude gain in Cho La pass trek.
  4. Weather and Terrain: The Everest View Trek exposes you to the weather and terrain of the Everest region so you can get used to cold temperatures, rocky trails, and possible weather changes during the Cho La Pass trek.
  5. Mental Preparedness: Mental toughness is required for trekking at a high altitude. Finishing the Everest View Trek will give you a sense of achievement and mental readiness for the Cho La Pass tough level.
  6. Logistical Familiarity: The Everest region Trek (Gokyo Ri) acts like a warm-up for the real thing; you will acclimatize with the trekking, accommodation, food, and communication facilities and better prepare yourself when undertaking more strenuous treks like Cho La Pass.
  7. Introduction to Local Culture: The Everest View Trek is a way of immersing in Sherpa culture and their local lifestyle. This cultural immersion adds to the overall trekking experience and is as gratifying as Cho La Pass.

2. Everest basecamp trek

No question, using the EBC trek as a baseline before launching into Chola Pass is a best-practice high-altitude trekking strategy. Climbing all the way from Lukla to EBC provides an elevation gain that allows trekkers to acclimate gradually to the thin air, topping out at about 17,000 feet (5,500 meters). One of the most important factors to mitigate AMS is proper acclimatization which becomes even more critical while we do the Chola pass trek which goes to the even higher altitude of 5420 mtr.

Everest basecamp trek
Pic: Outstanding view of Mount Everest during Everest Base Camp Trek.

Aside from acclimatization, the Everest Base Camp trek acquaints you with the idiosyncrasies of trekking in the Everest region. It includes rocky trails, cable bridges, and steep climbs that provide a glimpse of the physicality required for the Chola Pass route. Furthermore, you’ll get to know your own physical abilities and limitations, so that you can adapt your training for the following Chola Pass trek with more technical sections.

The experience you gain from trekking logistics like teahouse accommodation, meal plans, and weather management is of immense value for the Chola Pass trek. Your grasp of these practicalities really comes into its own as you climb the world-famous Chola La, which is all about the sheer beauty of its viewpoints over surrounding peaks.

Moreover, the EBC trek provides a primer to the culture and environment of the region that can be integrated into your Chola Pass journey. The concern and understanding you develop for the local communities & ecosystems during the Everest Base Camp trek can be taken forward as you traverse the high-altitude landscape of the Chola Pass trek.

In conclusion, the EBC trek is just a great introduction to the much more challenging Chola Pass trek. It is the acclimatization, physical readiness, terrain familiarity, logistical understanding, and cultural appreciation that you gain from doing an Everest Base Camp trek that set you up for your next adventure to the Chola Pass. With these trek combinations, you get the chance to move from one trek to another which greatly enhances your chances of successful completion and makes for a better journey overall in these majestic Himalayan terrains.

    3. Annapurna basecamp trek:

    Adding the ABC trek as a stepping stone for a better and compatible Chola Pass trek can increase the chances of summiting and enjoying the expedition. The advantage of the Annapurna Base Camp trek is its gentle acclimatization with an ascent to around 4,130m. And, crucially when you are tackling the formidable 17,782 ft Chola Pass elevation – this acclimatization is vital to reduce altitude-related risks.

    Besides the altitude acclimatization, the Annapurna trek has many invaluable experiences to offer which make a world of difference on a Chola Pass trek. The myriad of terrains from rocky trails to river crossing, plus the exposure to various trail challenges have honed your technical skills for the Chola Pass route. Furthermore, the Annapurna Base Camp trek will also help evaluate your physical stamina and fitness better ahead of the even more arduous Chola Pass crossing, so you can fine-tune your training plan accordingly.

    Being familiar with trek logistics, teahouse accommodations, local customs, and dietary options from the Annapurna trek will be a huge asset when planning and executing Chola Pass apart from physical preparedness. Was you move from the culturally diverse Annapurna region to the strenuous Everest region for the Chola Pass trek, your complete knowledge of both lodges will add value to your whole trekking experience.

    Annapurna Base Camp Trek
    Pic: View of Mount Annapurna during Annapurna Basecamp Trek

    Simply put, harnessing the Annapurna Base Camp trek as a launchpad for the Chola Pass Trek covers altitude acclimatization, physical fitness evaluation, trail familiarity, and logistical preparedness by default. This careful sequence exemplifies your commitment to a fulfilling, victorious experience in the Himalayas and creates a memorable adventure in some of the planet’s most stunning scenery.

    Taking Renjo la pass instead of Chola pass for going EBC to Gokyo Lake and vice versa can be the best alternative for older trekkers and novice trekkers?

    the Renjo La Pass is a good alternative for older trekkers or people with less fitness who want to travel over (EBC) and Gokyo Lakes. As opposed to the Cho La Pass, the Renjo La Pass trail presents a smoother ascent that helps with adaptation to higher altitudes. Plus, the way to the Renjo La Pass is less difficult in technical terms and it is more suited for people who do not have long experience in trekking. The route also provides trekkers with exclusive panoramic views of the Gokyo Lakes and neighboring peaks.

    Gokyo Renjola pass Circuit Trek
    Pic: Jawdropping view during the hike to Renjo la Pass.

    However, it is important to bear in mind that any high-altitude trek requires careful planning, slow acclimatization, and an honest assessment of one’s own health and fitness levels. High-altitude passes in the Everest region, such as Kanchenjunga, Although steeper are a bit more suitable, however for a safe and successful trek careful preparation is still of paramount importance.

    Changes around Chola pass in the past 10 years requiring awareness:

    Over the last decade, the Dzongla-Tagnag route (Cho la pass) in the stunning Himalayas has undergone a series of radical transformations thanks to accelerating glacier retreats. This dramatic change in the environmental landscape created a domino effect of observable changes in both topography and hiking experience. Most strikingly, the retreating glacier has caused a significant reduction in once-ice-shrouded terrain, and consequently truncated the icy section of the trail that walkers tiptoed through. Whereas the change seems to have reduced the amount of time on ice, it has also extended our scramble across the rocky southern expanse.

    Equally crucial, but often missed in the narrative so far, is another stunning transformation that has taken place on the western side of the Chola Pass where a massive overhaul of trail infrastructure has been given shape. This wholesale revamp highlights the remarkable resilience of these alpine systems to climatic change. It calls on hikers to confront the shifting landscape and points out the need for them to stay smartly curious about these changes.

    It’s with the trailblazers, though, that a sharped-witted sense of these shape-shifting times feels most apt. The significance of having a solid enough knowledge to manage these tweaks, each in the extended nature and the changed path alignment, can’t be overstated. So a journey along this course calls on not only physical but mental and strategic heroism, in which one must factor in the ephemeral nature of these environments as well as treading their exquisite delicacies.

    EBC to Gokyo: Renjo la Pass Vs. Cho la Pass

    EBC to Gokyo Via Renjo la Pass:

    Dzongla to Tagnag via Renjo la pass trek is one of the famous challenging trek in Everest region, Nepal. This trail gives you the best Himalayan views and goes through remote, beautiful parts. Here’s an overview of the trek:

    1. Starting point; Dzongla: The trek usually starts at Dzongla, a small hamlet situated at an altitude of approximately 4,830 metres. Dzongla is popular with trekkers about to Renjo La Pass. You have to get some acclimatization days around here before you attempt the pass.
    2. RENJO LA PASS (5,360M/17,585 FT). The Highlight of the Gokyo route is Renjo La Pass. The view from the pass is magnificent with sensational panoramic vistas that take in Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu. The climb through the pass is often difficult and steep, and it’s crucial to take it slow and acclimate.
    3. Gokyo Valley and Tagnag: After Renjo La Pass, you drop down into the Gokyo Valley. From there you will move to Tagnag (also called Dragnag). Tagnag is at around 4,700m. The trail is through high-altitude pastures, eating up views of the Gokyo Lakes and mountainscapes all around.

    EBC to Gokyo Via the Cho La Pass

    Dzongla to Tagnag via Cho La Pass trek is a tough and unspoiled route in the Everest region of Nepal. The road winds through high mountain passes, and beautiful valleys and presents wonderful vistas of the snow-covered Himalayan ranges. Here’s an overview of the trek:

    1. Starting Point; Dzongla: (4,830m) The trek typically starts in Dzongla, a small village at around 15,850 feet. Many find it a popular place to begin the trek to Cho La Pass. We will need to get used to being here before trying the Pass.
    2. Cho La Pass (5,420m/17,782ft): Chola Pass needs good planning and acclimatization. The trail is extremely difficult, icy, steep, and really tough in winter or early spring. To actually enjoy this, you need good trekking gear and a spirit of adventure. The pass gives hikers amazing panoramic views of neighboring peaks and glaciers.
    3. Gokyo Valley & Tagnag: Once you’ve safely crossed the formidable Cho La Pass, you’ll make your descent into the Gokyo Valley. The valley’s famous Gokyo Lakes are a string of jade-turquoise glacial lakes. Tagnag (or Dragnag), the village in the Gokyo valley, is at an altitude of approximately 4,700 meters (15,420ft). It’s a great spot to relax and get used to the altitude.


    In conclusion, for all you future trekkers, let’s discuss the Chola Pass trek, the remarkable expedition! Yes, it’s hard and, yes, it might be intimidating, especially if you’ve never hiked before. But just keep in mind, every veteran hiker has been a beginner once too, and with the correct preparation and attitude this journey is very possible for you.

    Picture yourself in the midst of the Himalayas, encircled by unbelievable landscapes that appear unreal. Imagine yourself overcoming not only the physical challenges but also the mental hurdles of hiking at high altitudes. That satisfaction and the absolutely breathtaking beauty are waiting for you.
    But when you decide to do the Chola Pass trek, think of it as a gradation. Begin with easy treks such as the Everest View Trek, Everest Base Camp Trek, or Annapurna Base Camp Trek. These trips are not just beginner adventures, they are invitations to discover and to fall in love with the Himalayas.

    Gokyo Ri Hike
    Pic: Gokyo Lake

    Keep in mind, this area has an ever-changing landscape due to glacier retreat which makes it extra exciting to explore. And not to mention the trail infrastructure upgrades that make your hike better.
    And for the ones who find Chola Pass Trek a little too much, do not worry! This is a great alternative that offers its own stunning views and challenges, but with an even more gentle ascent for beginners, the Renjo La Pass.

    So, fellow adventurers, whether Chola Pass or Renjo La Pass is the one you choose – every step you take, every sunrise that peeks out over the mounts, and every challenge that will be thrown your way will be part of an unforgettable journey. The Himalayas call, and you respond, trek by trek. Embrace the adventure, cherish the memories, and let the mountains touch your soul. Happy trekking!

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    About Author

    I grew up in the mountains & got university education in Kathmandu to become an engineer. But with homely environment of mountains interest me to become a trekking & tour guide, by passion. I have been 6574 meter to the highest & fortunately got chance to explore most of Nepal and bit of abroad.

    Eventually, passion converted to profession and here i am on behalf of Nepalgram - a Trekking agency in Nepal.

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