Day 8: Kala Patthar

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Since we had no intention to watch sunrise from the top of Kala Patthar we didn’t have to get up super early. We were both awake by 5am though, because of our early sleep schedule on this trek. I had a particularly good night of sleep after taking a hot shower the night before. Tricia did not have such good fortune, however. Her shower was not hot enough so she didn’t wash her hair. It wasn’t until two days later that we learned from a fellow trekker that we needed to ask Kaji to flip a switch downstairs to keep the hot water flowing. We probably should’ve just asked.

We were out the door heading to Kala Patthar by 6am. It was another cloudless morning. We learned about a shortcut behind the Pyramid to Gorak Shepp the night before so we followed this little path up the hill without knowing where it was taking us. We quickly found ourselves on a path high up on a hill parallel to the traditional trail. The view was gorgeous from this high ground. We could see enormous glacial peaks in every direction. The sun was about to rise above the horizon.

Mt Lintren was the first peak that the sun hit in front of us. We could see the enormous Khumbu glacier in the distance, which sits at the base of Everest. Kala Patthar is a small (compared to the mountains that surround it) peak rising from a flat area next to the path of Khumbu glacier. It offers an unobstructed view of Mt Everest and its neighbors on a clear day. Some people argue that it offers the best view of Mt Everest of all observation points.

About half a mile down this high trail, we found a sign pointing north to Gorak Shepp. It was a relief to know that this trail was leading us in the right direction, as the traditional trail was at least 40 to 50 feet below us. However, we didn’t realize that the sign was also the point where we should have started to descend to meet the traditional trail. We kept going until we hit a scree field with large loose rocks, which would have been very difficult to cross. We were forced to scramble down to reach the traditional trail. Fortunately, the traditional trail was in full view and there were many other trekkers heading up to Kala Patthar, which confirmed that the trail in view was the right one.

We got to Gorak Shepp at around 8am. Since we had wasted at least 30 mins in the scree field, we were eager to get up Kala Patthar. After the experience at Gokyo Ri, we knew that the clouds could move in at any minute. There was no time to waste and we marched on. Tricia turned on her beast mode and lead the way. Everest peak revealed itself within 10 minutes up Kala Patthar. We had a clear sky all the way up to the top of Kala Patthar and the view was absolutely stunning. Our timing was impeccable this time. Not only did the weather cooperate, but we also ascended while everyone else were descending from their sunrise hike. We got to the top of Kala Patthar in one hour and fifteen minutes and found only one other group on the top taking pictures. The top of Kala Patthar, unlike Gokyo Ri, had only a small flat area so we were glad to see very few people up there.

We lingered at the top for about 30 minutes. As we predicted, clouds started to move in when we were ready to head down. Many more people were on their way up Kala Patthar when we were descending. We watched the fog thickening around us on our descent, knowing some of the hikers we were passing were going to be disappointed like us when we climbed Gokyo Ri.

Since we went up Kala Patthar so quickly, we had more time than expected so we considered going to Everest Base Camp. Being a nonconformist, Tricia had voiced her objections to visiting EBC before we even planned the trek. She had three arguments against visiting EBC. First, since it’s not climbing season, EBC was only a pile of rocks, prayer flags and garbage. Second, it’s located in a “pit” where you can’t even see the top of Everest. Third, and perhaps most important of all, the trek to EBC has become so commercialized that reaching EBC is no longer an adventure or enjoyable. As we descended Kala Patthar, I noticed a trail branching out towards EBC. We had to make a decision there. On one hand, neither of us was going to be disappointed if we didn’t go to EBC. On the other hand, if this trail was a shortcut to EBC, it wouldn’t take too much of our time to get there. We figured that we’d follow it.

The trail lead us to a cliff top overlooking the EBC trail with no way to get down. We ended up having our lunch on that cliff’s edge watching fellow trekkers moving towards EBC at turtle speed (we were all walking at turtle speed at that altitude). Our perch offered a good view of Khumbu glacier and its pools. After a Clif bar or two, we headed back to Pyramid.

We got back to Pyramid by 2pm. It was a restful afternoon and evening with delicious food and many pots of hot tea. Day 8 marked our highest altitude on this trip. Kala Patthar was 18,514 feet above sea level. In comparison, Chukhung Ri, which we reached on day 11, was 18,196 feet above sea level.

day 8-31
Hello, Everest and Nuptse! You guys look good together.

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Nepal
Part 1: The Planning- 1 2 3 4
Part 2: The Trek- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Part 3: Kathmandu 1 2 3

Interested in reading about our food adventures in Kathmandu? Click here.

Are you planning a trekking trip of own? Check out my packing list.

Merrell Men’s Moab Mid Waterproof Hiking BootA few years ago I spent two hours at Sports Authority trying on different boots to find these guys . After I brought them home, Tricia tried and loved them, too. She bought a pair for herself off Amazon minutes later. Fruit of my labor, shared. We’ve since gone on many hikes around the world including trips to Chile (Patagonia) and Nepal. I can proudly say that these boots have carried me through rain, snow, ice and muddy jungle trails. For sure my favorite boots of all time.
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