This mountain poses few difficulties and it is often used as a warm up for other Himalayan Peaks. It is one of the so called ‘trekking peaks’ of Nepal and it does not require a huge amount of mountaineering skill. The term ‘trekking peak’ is, however, a little misleading for some of these peaks which should be approached seriously. Most people climb the north ridge from the Kongma La. It is also possible to climb the South ridge (see route section.) The mountain lies to the east of the Khumbu Valley which leads all the way up to Everest base camp.
Pokalde is around two or three miles from Everest but the Lhotse ridge obscures the view of the highest point on Earth from the summit. From the hamlet of Lobuche, which consists of only a handful of trekking lodges, the peak does look impressive as a high point on the ridge across the valley. It sits above the Kongma La (pass) and in comparison to the busy paths leading to Everest the route is infrequently traveled. The mountain is, of course, dwarfed by its impressive neighbors but nevertheless it is a worthwhile side trip from a trek. It is close to Island Peak/ Imja Tse and I have written a page about that mountain too. I climbed the two peaks back to back and it made a very good trip.
To get to the start point, the village of Lobuche, it takes eight days (minimum) to allow proper acclimatization from Lukla. Lukla is the nearest airport and lies at 2850m above sea level. Most people will actually walk in from the trail head and this adds on five days or so. It is important to be properly acclimatized – it is obviously safer to acclimatize properly, but also means that one can then enjoy the climb. I have seen several people with very serious problems at Lobuche, one of whom could have died had his friends not evacuated him. It is also possible to approach from the south and avoid going over the Kongma La as Fred Nath writes: "
We climbed Pokhalde in March 2004. We walked up from Dingboche and established an attack camp at around 5,400m on the South-East side of the peak. From there we climbed Pokhalde and walked down to Chukung on the way to Island Peak in time for supper! The down side of this route is the long walk in from Dingboche which climbs almost 1000m to establish the high camp. It's very tiring and temperatures were around minus ten in camp. You need to be well acclimatized as the climb to high camp is well above recommended levels for one day." To read about climbing the South Ridge, click on the route section on the left hand side of the page.
You need to get a trekking peak permit and this costs around US$300. The rules constantly change but it is easy to get the permit on arrival in Kathmandu. Jamie McGuiness, author of a very good trekking guide to the region, has some info about permits on his web site. There are several organizations dedicated to helping the Sherpa community. Here are just two. Should you wish to contribute to this worthwhile cause contact either of the following organizations though the information below. The Sir Edmond Hillary Foundation 222 Jarvis Street Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5B 2B8 (416) 941-3315 The American Himalayan Foundation 909 Montgomery Street, suite 400 San Francisco CA 94133 Telephone (415) 288-7245 Fax (415) 434-3130
Pre or Post monsoon: March to May and October to November.
The best place to camp is by the lake at the base of the mountain. It is usually deserted, it is sheltered and it provides a great view of the peak. Make sure you have a very warm sleeping bag. The altitude of the lake at the base of the mountain is approx. 5400m: you really do want to be well acclimatized to sleep here.