World → Asia → Tibet → Dingri to Everest
One of the best hikes in the world
Dingri (Tingri) to Everest
Hikes in this region also called:
- Dingri to Everest Base Camp
- Dingri to Everest Base Camp Loop Trek
- Everest Base Camp to Tingri
English versions of Tibetan place names:
- Dingri often called Tingri
- Rongphu often spelled Rongbuk
- Chomolangma (Everest) also spelled Qomolangma, Jomolangma and Chomolungma.
We loved hiking to Everest independently from the Friendship Highway at Dingri in 1998. Seems it’s much more difficult now. You may be forced to join a tour.
AT A GLANCE
- very few trek to Everest on the Tibet side. Almost all hike in from Lukla in Nepal.
- from the north, you trek to Rongbuk Monastery, the world’s highest 4,980 metres (16,340 ft)
Sure you could drive to base camp on a paved road, risking altitude sickness. But the world’s highest mountain is best appreciated after you trek there.
- this trek is dangerous
- this trek — independently — is illegal. It’s getting tougher to bypass the many checkpoints.
- if you manage to get to Base Camp, know that there are Chinese government rangers there who might send you back
- many suffer respiratory problems. And fatigue.
- you need many days at altitude before climbing to Base Camp
- April, May, June are best months
- we were there in October and it was excellent as well
- it’s far, far easier to get to Everest from the Nepal side
Why We Like This Hike
- watching sunset on Chomolangma is sublime
FAR more impressive than any view from Nepal
- remote, few trekkers until you reach the Monastery
- via Pang-La has been recommended as the best route
- it is possible to continue up the glacier to Advanced Base Camp 5760m — dangerous, guide needed — without mountaineering gear. Is this the “highest trek in the world”?
- with permit guides can take you as far as Camp 3 at 6340m
- trek through huge, remote Qomolangma National Nature Preserve
which includes four of the world’s six highest mountains: Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu.
- our recommended route has you trekking directly towards our favourite, massive Cho Oyu 8,201m (26,906ft), a wonderful sight
- fantastic weather during the trekking season. (In October we did not see a cloud in the sky for weeks.)
- there are many excellent alternative hikes from Dingri including Cho Oyu Base Camp
- altitude sickness is a big risk. You could die.
- evacuation is difficult, sometimes impossible
- no rescue service is available. You are on your own.
- we met a Canadian visitor trapped at the Monastery for 4 days with altitude sickness. The road down to the highway was closed. Or vehicles hired (by phone) to rescue him broke down. Or could not find fuel. He eventually got down and recovered. But it was scary at the time.
- no campsites. No toilets.
- the authorities are not sure what is allowed and what is not. You are uncertain if a uniformed man is going to send you back to Lhasa, or invite you for tea.
- many independent travelers ignore Chinese rules, playing “dumb” when apprehended.
- officially all travelers in Tibet must be part of a tour group. In reality, people disappear from their tours and travel independently.
- Make sure your Chinese visa allows you enough time to trek. It is a serious mistake to overstay your visa.
- China and Tibet are relatively expensive compared with the rest of Asia. It helps to be able to speak some Mandarin and a few words in Tibetan.
- many Everest trekkers have horror stories about the wind
- McCue had his dinner freeze on the plate faster than he could finish eating
- from Dingri you pass farms and houses but you may to be unable to buy much in the way of food. Carry everything you need.
- temperatures can fall well below freezing at night
- snow may trap you in your tent
- local people on the trekking route speak Tibetan, not Chinese
- you need good tents, warm sleeping bags and warm clothes
- lower sections of the trek can be wet and muddy — but footing is excellent when dry
- any gear you leave outside the tent may disappear by morning
- if you stay in a Tibetan home, keep a close eye on your gear
- Tibet is very dusty. Boiled water is easily available but not hot showers. It is difficult to keep clean.
You may be charged a fee for entry into the Quomolangma Nature Preserve though trekkers are often not flagged. You may also be asked to pay a PSB (public security bureau) travel permit.
A great topic of conversation among independent (illegal) travelers in Tibet is the confusing, ever changing set of rules and fees levied by the Chinese overlords. Many try to find ways to keep money out of the hands of the government, and put it into the pockets of local Tibetans.
McCue’s Trekking in Tibet guidebook details 3 sections:
- Dingri to Dza Rongphu (Rongbuk) Monastery (3-4 days)
- Dza Rongphu Monastery to Everest Base Camp (2-3hrs)
- Everest Base Camp to Dingri (via Lamar La)
Here’s a sample elevation profile. We found this walk a slow and steady climb.
Note: Lonely Planet Tibet describes the reverse route, from Everest back down to Dingri.
Best months to hike are April, May, June though almost any month is possible as this trek is in the rain shadow. During the winter weather is stable but wind and cold may stop you. October is cold and clear, for example.
McCue details a couple of alternate routes Dingri to Dza Rongphu.
Most stay at least 2 nights at the Monastery guest house or at base camp in a tent and do some day hiking.
Mountaineers and adventurous trekkers can extend the hike by continuing up the glacier towards Everest. (A guide would be very helpful. We got lost on the glacier.)
We ABSOLUTELY do not endorse any of the tours listed below. While traveling independently in Tibet it seemed nearly every foreigner on a tour was intensely unhappy with what they were getting for their money. Some tours walk up the road to Everest, rather than on the trail, for example.
Tour Toyota Land Cruisers run out of fuel. And sit.
Groups languish at some crappy motel for days when one of their party gets altitude sickness.
Get a recent, personal endorsement before you sign on to any tour anywhere in China or Tibet.
This guided tour looks appealing, however …
- Project Himalaya – Everest Advance Base Camp trek 5760m
Advanced Base Camp is the ultimate goal. We tried to get there independently in 1998.
- Explore Himalaya
- Himalayan Trails
- Tibet C Trip
- Tibet Adventures
- Unique Adventure
If you sign on with a trekking company, they will take care of the complex logistics organizing your trek.
This section is for those who want to do it independently
First problem — getting a China visa with enough weeks to do Tibet. Due to altitude, you need plenty of time to acclimatize.
- consider taking the legal China to Tibet train (tickets)
- rent gear if needed in Lhasa
- purchase stove fuel in Lhasa
- next problem is … getting to Dingri over 570km (350mi) from the capital. There’s no legal way for an independent traveler to get there. Yet you will find travelers hitching, biking, even walking independently.
- Dingri is high — 4310m (14,150ft)
- almost every hiker comes in from Lhasa but it is certainly possible to get to Dingri from Nepal (if you are allowed to cross the border) but the huge elevation gain will deliver you in very poor condition for trekking
- get last minute provisions from Dingri which has a modest tourist infrastructure
- you may even be able to hire saddle horses to carry your packs up to the monastery. (These horses could then be used to evacuate anyone stricken with altitude sickness.)
- accommodation is available at the monastery and it is much warmer than your tent. A shop and simple meals are available there as well.
- as soon as you arrive, start looking for a ride back down to the highway — unless you want to walk
Best Trekking Guidebooks
- Trekking Tibet: A Traveler’s Guide (2010) – Gary McCue
Best Travel Guidebooks
Other Recommended Books
- Tibet: A History (2011) – Sam van Schaik
- Tibet: An Inner Journey (2012) – Matthieu Ricard
- Altitude Illness – Stephen Bezruchka, 2005
- Travelers’ tales:Tibet – O’Reilly & Habegger, 2003
- Tibet: The Secret Continent -Michel Peissel, 2003
- Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land – Patrick French, 2003
- Sky Burial – Xinran
- Seven Years in Tibet – Heinrich Harrer
- The Way of the White Clouds – Lama Anagarika Govinda
- Vanished Kingdoms – Mabel Cabot
- Lhasa – Robert Barnett
- The Tibet Guide – Stephen Batchelor, 1998
- Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster – Jon Krakauer
- The Chomolungma Diaries: What a commercial Everest expedition is really like – Mark Horrell
- The Ascent of Rum Doodle – W.E. Bowman
Best Web Pages
Best Independent Trip Reports
- The Hiking Life 2006
- besthike editor Rick McCharles – The North Face 1998 – Tingri to Advanced Base Camp and above …
- edMichel failed trek from Dingri 2005
Leave a comment if you know of other independent trip reports
Tingri Tibet View To Mount Everest and Cho Oyu
Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.
- Tibet – Cry of the Snow Lion – Tom Piozet, 2003
- Seven Years in Tibet – Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1997
- Mount Kailash Return to Tibet – narrated by Kris Kristofferson, 2003
- The Saltmen of Tibet – Ulrike Koch, 2002
- Exploring Tibet – Sheryl Brakey, 2003
Check our blog for posts tagged “Tibet”.
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