Larkya La Pass (5,106m) in Manaslu: Trekking Guide

Here’s everything you need to know about crossing the Larkya La Pass in the Manaslu Region of Nepal.

At 5,106m above sea level, the Larkya La is the highlight and the highest point of the amazing Manaslu Circuit Trek. Most trekkers including myself, reach the pass on the 11th day of their itinerary between Dharmasala and Bhimtang, connecting the Manaslu region and the Annapurna region.

While there’s plenty of information online about the Manaslu Trek, there isn’t much dedicated to the pass. So, here’s everything you need to know with photos from my trek.

Manaslu circuit elevation plotManaslu circuit elevation plot
Typical itinerary to gain the Larkya La pass on day 11 of the Manaslu Circuit Trek

About The Larkya La Pass

Below are the key points you need to know about the pass. Read my guide if you’re interested in a full breakdown of the Manaslu Trek Itinerary.

  • Elevation: Larkya La Pass sits at an altitude of 5,106 meters (16,752 feet), making it one of the highest trekking passes in the Himalayas. The day of the pass crossing you will climb over 750 m and descend 1,500 m.
  • Location: As part of the Manaslu Circuit Trek, the pass connects the Budhi Gandaki Valley in the east to the Marsyangdi Valley in the west.
  • Views: On a clear day from the Larkya La Pass, you’ll get great views of the Larkya Glacier and notable peaks including Gyaji Kung (7, 030m), Kang Guru (6,981 m), Cheo Himal (6, 820m), Himlung Himal (7,126 m), and Annapurna II (7,937 m).
  • Starting point: Almost all trekkers attempt the pass from the east to west, departing from Dharamsala (4,460 m). You won’t find any power for charging or cell/internet connectivity here. 
  • Trek Duration: Crossing the pass typically happens 9-11 days into the full Manaslu Circuit Trek. Expect 6-8 hours to cross the pass from Dharamsala To Bhimtang over approximately 16 km
  • Difficulty Commonly considered the most strenuous day of the Manaslu Trek due to its high altitude, fairly long trekking distance, and steep descent (the ascent is fairly manageable).
  • Time: I recommend starting very early in the morning to get the best chances of making it over the pass. Heavy clouds tend to gather in the late afternoon, making navigation quite difficult.
  • Permits: Trekkers need the Manaslu Conservation Area Permit (MCAP), Annapurna Conservation Area Permit (ACAP), and a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to cross the pass.

My Experience Crossing the Larkya La Pass from Dharmasala to Bhimtang

  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Elevation: 750 m (2,460 ft) elevation gain & 1,500 m (4,921 ft) descent
  • Distance: 16 km (9.94 mi)

Almost all trekkers who are hiking the Manaslu Circuit will do this hike in an anti-clockwise direction. As a result, crossing the Larkya La Pass begins at the settlement of Dharamsala (4,460 m).

Starting Point: Dharamsala

Dharamsala, which is also called Larke Phedi is a very small settlement set up to accommodate trekkers attempting the pass. Here, we found only three small and very rudimentary teahouses with demountable storage rooms utilized as sleeping quarters for trekkers.

We arrived at Dharamsala the day prior after a short 2.5-hour trek from the village of Samdo. Due to bad weather, we missed the epic views of the nearby Syacha Glacierwe and bunkered in the rooms and got an early night’s sleep before attempting the pass the following morning.

Starting the Push Towards the Pass.

In the morning, we woke up with all the other trekkers just after 3:00 am. We shared a quick breakfast and began trekking in the dark, guided by our headlamp lights. Unfortunately, the clouds were still hanging around, but we had high hopes they would clear as we gained altitude.

The trail kicks off with a steady ascent up the hill overlooking the tiny settlement, then skirts the edge of the Larkya Moraine. The ground is quite rocky here and there was snow from the night before.

Gradually, we made our way to a quaint tea shop, a perfect spot for a brief rest and to offload our packs. From there, the terrain shifted as the path beneath our boots filled with deeper snow. Right beside the imposing Larkya Glacier, we found ourselves leading the way.

At times, we were breaking new trails through the snow, but it wasn’t too difficult.

After roughly 2.5 hours of hiking, we reached a level section with 4 frozen lakes. This was where we first laid eyes on the pass, with colorful specs of the distant prayer flags flapping in the wind.

Mountains at larkya glacierMountains at larkya glacierMountains at larkya glacier
Amazing views of the larkya glacier

Gaining the Larkya La Pass (5,106 m)

It took us just under 3 hours to gain the pass from Dharamsala at a steady pace. We’d gained around 750 meters of altitude in this time, so we were a little tired but very stoked as this was the highest point of the Manaslu Circuit trek.

We shared the moment with a few other trekkers, exchanging high-fives while our awesome guides from Himalayan Masters made us hot tea. Fortunately, the clouds had mostly cleared, and the stubborn ones remaining were lingering beneath the peaks, creating a moody scene for photos.

After some celebrations, we took some photos of the sign draped in prayer flags and continued on.

The Descent

In all honesty, the descent is the most difficult part about crossing the Larka La Pass. It’s quite steep and features some vertigo-inducing drops in some sections. It’s by no means technically difficult, but it can be slippery and we decided to wear microspikes, which helped a lot for the descent.

Luckily for us, the weather continued to clear and as we descended, we were treated with magical welcome into the Manang Region of Annapurna. The vibrant, blue lake of Pungkar Tal guided us on while we endured a few slips here and there.

It took us just over one hour to descend to a small unnamed village with a single teahouse. Here, we ate a hearty portion of hot noodles before our final push to Bhimtang Village at (3,720 m)– a mission success!

Which Peaks Can You See from the Pass?

From Larkya La Pass, trekkers are rewarded with some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the Himalayas. Here are some of the major peaks and features you can see:

  1. Annapurna II: Part of the Annapurna range, this peak stands at 7,937 meters
  2. Himlung Himal: Rising to 7,126 meters, Himlung Himal is situated near the border with Tibet and is one of my favorite peaks to photograph
  3. Cheo Himal: At a mere 6, 820 m, this is a smaller peak but still beautiful and a significant peak in the region
  4. Ratna Chuli: This peak reaches up to 7,035 meters and is one of the clearest peaks from the pass
  5. Gyaji Kang: With an elevation of 7,074 meters, Gyaji Kang is another impressive peak visible
  6. Kang Guru: Not the tallest but perhaps the most striking, reaching 6,981 meters

How Difficult is the Larkya La Pass?

Crossing the Larkya La Pass is often considered the most challenging segment of the Manaslu Circuit Trek. However, having tackled the side trip to the Tibetan Border just two days prior, I found this pass somewhat more manageable in comparison.

The hardest part is that it’s a long day—expect to spend about 6 hours on the trail. The descent is particularly taxing, especially on the knees, dropping 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) in a short timeframe.

The terrain also varies a lot depending on the weather. It can also be treacherous, especially if recent weather conditions have left the path slippery from snow. In this case, you’ll have to carve out new routes through the snow. Furthermore, the glacier flanked by enormous peaks on either side tends to trap a lot of clouds, leading to frequent whiteouts. This unpredictable weather is a good reason to trek with a guide.

Comparatively speaking, the ascent to Larkya La is less strenuous than any on the Three Passes Trek and is notably more challenging than the climb to Kala Patthar, if you’ve done the Everest Base Camp Trek.

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