A few questions re December in the Khumbu that I can't find answers to via web searches:
1. What exactly is it that may "close" passes (such as Cho-la, Kongma-la) in Dec? Is it deep snow making progress impossible, avalanche risk, difficulty finding routes, crevassed glaciers covered in powder, or the fact that people don't usually have crampons/axe and are walking in light footwear? I appreciate some lodges may be closed that may make trips very long. But, also, I'm sure there are no snowgates there or cops with blue lights
2. If passes are closed, is that IT for the winter? Or is it just a few days or a week they might be out of action?
3. Do Lukla flights wind-down around the western holiday 25/26 Dec, or is it business as usual. eg. can you fly on 25 Dec as if any other day?
4. If you were aiming to be there late Nov and most/all of Dec maybe into Jan, and wanted to explore scramble peaks and passes etc. but were still very flexible with dates, would it generally be better to plan to be there as early as possible, or is +/- a week or two not that critical? In other words, all around that time of year unfavourable conditions could occur at any time?
In reply to BruceM:
I was in Nepal from October last year utill Jan this year.
We flew into Lukla on the 8th of Dec,(origanly tried on the 7th but cancelled due to weather)
we crossed the cho La Pass for base camp side to Gokyo.
To answer your questions.
1.From my experience on the Cho La Pass.
Passes arent closed as in blocked off you cannot go, there are usually only snow bound for a day or two.(or as long as the weather is bad)
we had perfect weather and in the days leading up to it we were all apprehensive, about the conditions as there had been a week long spell of bad weather prior to us flying in to Lukla, so we tried to speak to as many folk as possible before making the decision to go for it or not.(we had no crampons or axes)
It was a mixed bag,we met folk who said dont do it without crampons its so dangerous, and others who had done it without.
Any way we decided to go for it, I have never been on a glacier before but my girlfriend and I have plenty of winter climbing and walking experience under our belts so felt comfortably going to at least try.
5 of us done the pass one guy in Salomon running shoes, me in Salomon cosmics(light weight trekking boots).
the route was slippy but not dangerous in the sense that a slip would be fatal(however that being said fresh snow or bad weather would make route finding tricky)
we flew back to KTM, on the 27th but planes still flew on the 25.
you can be flexible enough with dates,
I would highly recommend being there in December and through xmas as the the lodges were mostly empty,and the route was quiet
we heard that in peak season its like a conveyor belt and the lodges are full.
Hope that helps.
If you have any further questions just ask.
In reply to BruceM:
Yeah, we had a great time,
did the Annapruna circuit then base camp.
Like I said feel free to get in touch.
We are on a round the world trip backpacking so budget is tight,
I found lots of little ways to save cash here and there.
Ie flights to Lukla, cheap resturaunts in KTM, and keepin the cost down on the trek itself.
If your not carefull the cost can really add up.