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    12 Mountain Passes in Nepal

    Balaram Thapa
    Balaram ThapaUpdated: Jun 1st 2023  |  Trekking/Hiking

    Challenging and intimidating are few words that describe the mountain passes in Nepal. Trekkers who have trekked the Nepal Himalayas have vivid memories of crossing those testing mountain passes. These mountain passes are nerve-wracking yet extraordinarily exciting. Lying high in the mountains, these mountain passes connect two or more incredible peaks and makes way for charming mountain villages. These mountain passes rise above the ground underneath them, concealing areas from the outside world.

    Climbing these mountain passes is difficult and to pass them is another adventure you sign up for. Luckily, Nepal adorns extensive mountain ranges thus houses several exciting and scenic mountain passes. They bring trekkers to nature's doorway that bring them to new lands and new sights. But just because they offer the opportunity, don't let this let you think that they are easily conquered.

    In the early days, Mountain passes in Nepal used to be a trading route for Tibetan and Nepalese merchants. The Himalayas of Nepal forms a common barrier with Tibet in the north. And because of mountain passes, traveling in the past was made easy. Thus, these mountain passes have played a vital role in migrating humans and animals between two countries for years. Due to this very reason, the people in the higher altitude share similarities in culture and lifestyle. Moreover, La, in particular, is a Tibetan word for a pass. Hence every mountain passes name ends with the Tibetan word La.

    While these mountain passes have long served as a functional purpose, they also provide another opportunity to appreciate the area's natural beauty. Nepal's mountain passes, mainly located at a higher height, offer heart-pounding and breathtaking beauty, making even the most anxious tourists pleased and delighted. Henceforth, when you are in Nepal for a trekking venture, do not miss checking out Nepal's top 12 mountain passes.

    Amphu Lapcha Pass – The highest mountain pass in Nepal

    At a tremendous height of 5845 meters / 19177 feet, Amphu Lapcha Pass is the highest mountain pass in Nepal. At the top of the Honku valley, it is a glaciated pass with serac cliffs. It offers access to the Honku valley, which is otherwise relatively inaccessible. The Panch Pokhari, or Five Sacred Lakes, is located in the valley's base, 5,000 meters high. It is a physically demanding pass. The climb likewise is technical. The mountain pass remains frozen almost 12 months of the year; hence, crossing Amphu Lapcha would be too challenging for trekkers with no climbing or trekking experience. Even if the climb is endurance testing, the view is worth every tough climb. The pass's summit has breathtaking views of Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, and other Himalayan peaks. Lastly, the Amphu Lapcha pass is ideal for thrill-seekers who aren't scared of taking risks.

    Teri La Pass – one of the remote mountain passes in Nepal 

    In the eastern Upper Mustang of Damodar Himal, close to the Tibetan border, lies Teri La Pass. Lying at a height of 5577 meters / 18297 feet, Teri La pass used to be a salt trade route between the Kingdom of Lo-Upper Mustang and Nar Phu Valley. Connecting two restricted areas of Nepal, it is fair to say it is one of the remote mountain passes in Nepal. From the summit of the Teri La pass, stunning landscape views and enthralling mountain vistas are evident. The famous mountains visible from Teri La pass are the Annapurna Range, Dhaulagiri Range, Damodar Himal, Tilicho Peak, Gangapurna, and many more.

    Kongma La pass – Difficult yet extremely adventurous mountain pass

    Standing tall at the elevation of 5,535 meters / 18,159 feet, Kongma La pass is the most skipped mountain passes among three high passes of the Everest region. While doing Everest three high passes trek, most consider dropping this pass due to its complex nature. Some portions of the Kong ma La are completely rocky, requiring extra attention of the trekker. Nevertheless, it is a highly intriguing and exciting mountain pass that should not be skipped. Kongma La pass, besides offering the thrilling experience of climbing mountain pass, also provide a great outlook of the Everest range. Notably, from the summit of the Kongma La pass, the vista of Cho Oyu is remarkably visible.

    Cho La Pass – Stimulating yet Picturesque Mountain pass in the Everest region.

    Chola Pass - Mountain Passes in Nepal

    The thrilling Cho La pass stands at the height of 5420 meters / 17780 feet and lies in the Everest region connecting several significant attractions. The trail connects tranquil and turquoise Gokyo Lakes in the west and the majestic Everest Base Camp in the east. It is a part of three high passes in the Everest region and offers a breathtaking spectacle of mountains such as Mt. Everest, Cho Oyu, and many more.  Crossing Cho La pass elevates the excitement of trekking Everest Base Camp if you detour majestic Gokyo Lakes and valley. The trail can be walked anticlockwise, i.e., first Gokyo, then EBC via Cho La pass.

    Among the three mountain passes in the Everest area, it is one of the most grueling. Because it is the highest among the three, and climb can be technical depending upon the season. The snow or ice deposits make the climb challenging during the winter and early spring season, yet one can smoothly cross the pass with the necessary equipment.

    Thorong La Pass – Gorgeous Mountain pass in Nepal.

    Throngla Pass

    Capping out at 5416 meters / 17769 feet, Thorong La pass is a gorgeous mountain pass in the Annapurna region. The pass overlooks the giant Damodar Himal and connects the rural Manang village, sacred Muktinath temple, and few villages of the Mustang district. The pass-first was used as a trading route with Tibet, but it is actively used as a trekking route these days. The world-famous Annapurna Circuit Trek entails crossing this scenic and spectacular mountain pass. Furthermore, this is the highest elevation trekkers reach during Annapurna Circuit Trek. But, the challenging aspect of this trek is not hiking up the crown of Thorang La. The straight descent to Muktinath from Thorang la can take a toll on trekkers.

    Renjo La Pass – the less crowded mountain pass in Everest Region

    Renjo La pass

    Standing at 5340 meters / 17843 feet, Renjo La pass is one of three Everest passes. It is another excellent mountain passes that connect Gokyo Lakes and Nagpala and is extremely remote. This pass is considerably active as a trading route than other mountain passes. One could still meet Tibetan merchants descending from Nangpa La pass with their yak caravan. It is the only pass among the three where crossing glaciers is not required. Also, it takes less time to cross the pass.

    Nevertheless, just because you do not have to cross the glacier, it does not mean crossing Renjo La is any simple. It does entail its own challenges, yet most consider this an easy pass compared to the other two mountain passes. The Renjo La pass also offers one of the beguiling vistas of Everest massif and Gokyo Lakes.

    Kang La Pass – Connecting arid villages of Annapurna region.  

    Mountain Kangla Pass

    Kang La pass stays at the great height of 5320 meters / 17454 feet and lies in the pristine Annapurna region. The mountain pass connects the village of Nar with the main Annapurna circuit trail and several towns around the area. Thus, it is fair to say that Kang La pass is a famous trekking mountain pass in the Annapurna region. Crossing this pass is strenuous; but, it is equally gripping. From the top of the pass, one can witness the fantastic scenes of Chulu east, Himlung Himal, Saribung peak, Gangapurna, and many more. Along with that, stare at the vast pasture lands in the lower slopes from the peak of Kang La pass.

    Ganja La Pass – Enthralling mountain pass that remains frozen all through the year

    Ganja-la pass is one of the high-altitude mountain passes in the Langtang Himalayas and rests at 5122 meters / 16804 feet approx. This incredible pass offers enchanting Himalayan perspective and a verdant encompassing view of mountain villages. Along the Ganjala pass trail, trekkers can relish plentiful in the radiant climate of streams, backwoods, and high pinnacles. A journey to the Ganjala pass is a testing yet lovely adventure on the whole. Not only are trekkers accustomed to natural beauty, but they can also soak up the view in solitude. Langtang valley, in general, is a less busy trekking destination. Henceforth, trekkers can actually enjoy the unparalleled mountain scenery and unique cultures.

    Larkya La pass – Longest mountain pass of Nepal

    Manaslu-Larke Pass

    Resting at 5,106m/16748 feet elevation, Larkya La Pass in the Manaslu region is one of Nepal's dramatic and longest mountain passes. Every trekker on the Manaslu Circuit Trek has a bitter-sweet moment of crossing this famous trekking pass of Nepal. Although this pass is not the highest mountain pass in Nepal, it still entails challenges and hurdles. The pass is notorious for rugged terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. However, in reward for the challenging climb, the pass offers splendid scenery of Himalayan peaks. The beautiful scenes of Manaslu, Himalchuli, Cheo Himal, and Himlung are visible from the peak of Larkya La pass.

    Meshokanto La Pass: Highly Scenic Mountain passes of Nepal.

    At a great height of 5099 meters / 16729 feet, Meshokanto La Pass is one of the scenic mountain passes of Nepal. The Meshokanto La pass is part of the Annapurna Circuit Trekking route that emerges between Jomsom and Manang. It's a desolate location surrounded by landslides and glaciers. It is pretty common to go to Tilicho as a side trek of the Annapurna Circuit. But less common and highly discouraged to cross on the other side, all the way to Jomsom, via Meshokanto pass from Lake Tilicho. Typically, trekkers follow the traditional route by going back on the main circuit trail and crosses the well-known Thorang La pass. Similarly, continue along the right shore of the lake and cross somewhere lower and further south, reaching Jomsom directly.

    Selele Pass – Less trodden pass in Kanchenjunga Region

    Selele Pass takes visitors to the foundation of the world's 3rd highest Mountain - Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586 meters). Resting at the height of 4290 meters /14071 feet, Selele pass connects Ghunsa and Cheram. The climb is steep yet attainable and goes through dense rhododendron, moss, and juniper forest. Crossing the Selele pass is the difficult aspect of trekking the Kanchenjunga Circuit. Some of the peaks notable while crossing Selele Pass are Kanchenjunga, Jannu Peak, Chang Himal, and other surrounding peaks. Overall, with dramatic experience, Selele pass also offers seclude and diverse terrain with captivating Himalayan vistas.

    Salpa Pass – Pristine mountain pass in Arun Valley

    Salpa Pass is not the tallest trekking mountain pass in Nepal, but it is already a beautiful mountain pass at the height of 3,350m/10,991 feet. The Salpa Pass path is a fantastic alternative to walking into the Everest mass, following the Arun Valley's unique habitat. This hike follows an old trade route locals used to bring agricultural items to Namche Bazaar and Tibet through Nangpa-la. The holy lake Salpa Pokhari is also located in the Arun Valley. The journey to the Salpa pass is quite simple and full of spectacular views of Makalu, Mera Peak, the Everest range, and many other Himalayan peaks. Trekkers get accustomed to such delightful scenery from an unfathomable height above rice terraces and verdant woods.

    Final Words

    These are few spectacular mountain passes of Nepal. One should definitely encounter these passes while traversing Nepal's beautiful and engaging treks in Nepal. These passes have been spicing up the journey for trekkers due to their complex location and arduous climb. Those who have previously walked these trails have unforgettable memories attached to the mountain pass. All that being said, if you are also looking for an exciting experience, do make plans to cross one of these intimidating mountain passes.

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