You’ve spent over 5 nights in the Himalayas, trekking with a heavy bag full of gear. You overcame various terrains and walked side by side with trekkers from around the world, as well as yaks and donkeys.
After pushing yourself HARD, you finally made it to Gorak Shep, just an hour away from Everest Base Camp. You spent the last couple of nights above 4000m, and now you’re tossing and turning in the crisp night air at above 5000m.
Your alarm goes off at 3:30am. What do you do?
Kala Patthar is a ‘small’ summit, at 5550m. It overlooks the Khumbu Glacier, Everest Base Camp, and is an incredible viewpoint for Everest itself. Although the trek to the top, especially before sunrise, is strenuous on the body and mind, it was one of my highlights of my trip to Nepal.
As mentioned in Jon Krakauer’s book, Into Thin Air, Kala Patthar is a mountain that mountaineers who summit Everest will spend time on as well. If you’re trekking to Everest Base Camp in May, this is when most of the Everest summit attempts take place. You may be able to meet some people at Kala Patthar (or Namche Bazaar) who have, or will summit Everest!
You’ll see the sun first cast its rays on the taller mountains surrounding Kala Patthar. You may recognize Ama Dablam from your hike up, as well as Lobuche and Nuptse mountains in front of you, and Pumori behind you.
Of course, looming in the distance, is mighty Everest itself, Sagarmartha, the Top of the World.
Tips on summitting Kala Patthar
- It takes about 2-2.5 hours to reach the top of Kala Patthar from Gorak Shep, so count the hours back from expected sunrise
- Be sure to get there before sunrise. When the sun comes up over the mountains and over Everest, it’s blinding to be at the summit of Kala Patthar
- The top boulder on Kala Patthar is very dangerous to be on, there’s a sheer drop on the other side so it’s best to avoid it
- Things to pack: Flashlight or headlamp, WARM clothes, water, something to take pictures with. See my full packing list for trekking in Nepal.
- It’s so cold getting to the Kala Patthar summit that many electronics will lose their battery power. Keep them warm next to your body on the way up so there’s some juice left when you get to the top!
Check out my other posts about trekking in Nepal!
- The Perfect Trekking in Nepal Packing List
- Ultimate Guide to the Three Passes Trek + Everest Base Camp
- 20 Things to Know Before Trekking to Everest Base Camp
- Ultimate Guide to the Annapurna Circuit Trek
- Annapurna Circuit Detailed Itinerary
- Nepal Country Page