Day 8 – Monday 19th – Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (5,643 m) to…
I woke up at 0430. I wanted to catch the sun rising over Everest. The best place to see that is by climbing up from Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (meaning Black Rock, in Nepali and Hindi). I was out the door by 0500.
I wasn’t the first one out – I could see a few light from the torches making their way up the trail. It was meant to be a two-hour hike. By then I had worked out I’m a lot faster in the morning, I figured I might be able to get it done in 1h30m – 1h45m.
The hike up to Kala Patthar starts off fairly steepish. I moved even faster that morning because it was so cold. I needed to stay warm. I overtook a lot of largish (10 or so people) groups. It levelled off after around 30-40 minutes where I traversed for about 20 minutes. Some pictures from the halfway point…
Then it becomes steep again. The final 10 minutes involves climbing up large rocks to the summit of the South Ridge of Pumori. The point, as is often the case, is marked with prayer flags. I reached it by 0615 around the same time as a few other people. We were some of the first ones up and enjoyed the views all to ourselves. I then waited in the cold while the show unveiled before me. Over the course of the next 45 minutes more people arrived, many of whom had been hiking for 2 or so hours.
After walking around the top of the ridge for a while, soaking in the landscape, I started making my way down.
The way down was fast. I was practically running down. It took a little over half an hour to get down. I had a very hearty breakfast, packed my backpack and was ready to go. I told the porter I wouldn’t be going to Gokyo.
The porter raced ahead again. This time not even staying within eyesight of me. I went along at a fairly aggressive pace. As I pressed on, I noticed somebody was following my trail at my pace. I started speaking to him. He was a French guy. He told me he had done the Chola Pass from Gokyo a few days before, alone. He said it’d be fairly straightforward for me and that it was similar to Kala Pattar. I had decided. I was going. And I was going to go without the porter.
We passed Lobuche and got to the junction: head straight on the left side and I’d continue back down towards Dingboche and Namche, to the right is the path to Dzong La and the Chola Pass. I informed him of my decision. He made a few last pleas. He backtracked on all of his arguments from the day before. But it was too late for that. I paid him the remaining money owed and said goodbye.
The way to Dzong La was awesome. There was a much better view of the mountains than anywhere else so far. Along the way, I met an Italian guy, Paolo, headed in the same direction. We had a similar pace. We agreed the following day we would do the Chola Pass together for safety. We both knew the Chola Pass was not without its risks, so felt better hiking with a buddy.
About 2 hours or so after Lobuche we arrived in Dzong La where we spent the night.