Because the Kanchenjunga trek traverses such a large number of climate zones and their relevant eco-systems it’s difficult to predict exact weather at all elevations at any time of year. Biratnagar has an elevation of 81m while Pangpema is 5388m. On a recent Swiss-French expedition to summit the southwest face of Kanchenjunga in April, temperatures at camp 3 (7100m) ranged from -20C at 6.00 am to 35C at noon.
Below is a month-by-month description of what you can expect to find on your trek. We have graded each month on a scale ranging from one to ten, where one is the worst and ten is the best.
January (Scores 2)
If you are trekking to either Kanchenjunga Base Camps via their direct route then this is possible. The circuit route though Sele Le pass though will be extremely challenging because of deep snow and ice. Our guides have trekked the pass in this month but mountaineering equipment is needed. The lodges in Pangpema and Ramche are closed and temperatures corrected for wind-chill drop to minus 30C or more. It is extremely difficult to spend a night at the Base Camps because if this.
February (Scores 3)
The first three weeks in February are still freezing. In the fourth weeks in lower areas the winter starts to break and flowers start to bloom everywhere. At Chirwa, Mitlung, Mamangkhe, Rhododendrons start to bloom. The lodges in Pangpema, Ramche and Sele Le are still closed leaving camping as your only option. The pass at Sele Le can still be snowed in at this time. Only the lower areas of the trek change in terms of weather.
March (Scores 7)
The weather is now fining up and temperatures in the high alpine areas are not as cold. The lower stages of the trek are not yet overly hot, the Sele La pass is usually open and the teahouses and lodges are also open.
April (Scores 8)
It starts getting hot on the lower sections like Biratnagar and Phidim, but temperatures are close to perfect on the upper elevations. Most high alpine expeditions are carried out during this month due to the Indian monsoon pushing the jet stream away from the high summits. Because of this the weather is perfect with little wind. Flowers are in full bloom and entire hills are covered with lush green growth.
May (Scores 6)
Trekking at lower elevations is now extremely hot. Rhododendron blossoms are starting to drop off leaving carpets on the trails. Sunlight is stronger than normal so sunscreen and a hat need to be worn.
June (Scores 4)
June marks the start of the rainy season. This is the pre-monsoon period and rain is expected but not frequent, and temperature start to reduce at lower elevations because of rainfall. The numbers of trekkers significantly drop off as the chances of rock and mud slides increase.
July & August (Scores 2)
The monsoon in Kanchenjunga means frequent rainfall, cancelled flights due to the weather, and unstable tracks due to landslides. At this time of year tracks can change completely due to landslides. Few lodges remain open but greenery is at its most lush.
September (Scores 6)
The monsoon is over, however rain is still expected at any time in the first two weeks. The second half of September is perfect weather. Autumn is about to start and vegetation is still lush and clear. High altitude Yak pastures look perfect.
October (Scores 10)
Busiest month of the year, as trail and teahouses feel more crowded in comparison to any other times. It will be colder at higher altitudes but till ok with a thin down jacket. Views of the sky, mountains and nature are superb.
November (Scores 9)
November is starting to cool down as winter approaches. There are less trekkers but the weather, scenery, and mountains are still superb.
December (Scores 8)
Although colder at higher elevations, views are crystal clear most of the time. The last week in December will bring snow so the yak herders all head for lower pastures. It may still be possible to cross the Sele Le pass before heavy snows close it.