Kala Patthar literally means “black rock” in English is the most popular view of the Everest Base Camp Trek. Situated at an impressive 5545m/18192ft above the sea level, on the south ridge of Pumori in the Nepali Himalayas above Gorakshep (the last accommodating place before Everest Base Camp/ Kala Patthar), its name comes from the coloration of the rock that makes up its peak - a dark black that stands in unambiguous contrast to the snow-capped peaks it surveys. It’s easy to see why once you approach it, as it’s a protuberant rock stabbing out from the south ridge of Pumori (7161m), not very distant from Gorakshep (5160m).
Kala Patthar (also called Kalapatther) trek is not so much a trek itself, nevertheless an optional short hike during the Everest Base Camp trek. It is a short, easy typically-hours hike that ascends Kala Patthar, a hill that provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and entire landscapes.
As the rock, itself isn’t a peak and doesn’t necessitate any special training, technical skills, previous experiences, or climbing equipment. You just need a positive vibe, physical fitness, warm clothes, comfortable hiking boots, and a pair of trekking poles! Yes, you can do it with minimal effort and a little preparation. I am sure that the Kala Patthar viewpoint offers outstanding panoramic sights that some much higher peaks just can’t offer.
Positioned almost 200m even above the Everest Base Camp, Kala Patthar (Kala Patthar) has become very popular among base camp trekkers who want the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the peak of Everest (8848.86m) - the sight not visible from the base camp itself.
The short upward hike begins at the village of Gorekshep. Normally, you will visit Everest Base Camp (EBC) on the same day as you reach Gorekshep. As it is not allowed to spend overnight at EBC, will descend to Gorekshep for sleep. Numerous trekkers that visit the base camp each year make it impossible to allow them to stay the night. Those who are daring to climb Mount Everest only sleep in their tented camps at Everest Base Camp for acclimatization purposes.
Most of the trekkers the next morning set their journey for Kala Patthar which takes 2 hours to summit the utmost point. The morning hike is the most popular as it allows the rest of the day to be spent hiking back down to Pheriche, but the sunset hike has been known to provide stunning views of the peak of Everest and its neighboring pinnacles. In the evening, cloud cover is common and you also run the risk of hiking in the dark, so the morning hike is usually recommended.
With a short drop into an ancient lake bed, the trail leads you uphill up the eastern side of the mountain. Up to the near summit, the trail increases gradually. Once you reached there, you will be presented with the sight of numerous fluttering prayer flags and of course the magnificent backdrop of Everest and the surrounding peaks. If you can bear to brave the cold, stinging winds, you can switch out your cameras and snap some pictures of the iconic view of mesmerizing first rays of the sun kissing the entire Everest panorama.
Viewing the panoramic sceneries of the surrounding pinnacles and landscapes, spending around 30-60 minutes spent at the top, you will head back down the same trail, through Gorekshep and have the first meal at the same teahouse and set to descend hiking rest of the day that will end at Pheriche. Onwards you will make your way back to Lukla on the home stretch.
A big debate is whether to hike Kala Patthar for sunrise or for sunset. Most of the agencies schedule it for the early morning hike for sunrise. The standard itinerary they follow is going from Lobuche to Gorakshep on the morning of the 8th day of their hike and further ascend to Everest Base Camp during the afternoon on the same day. On the 9th day, it will be an early climb to Kala Patthar for mesmerizing sunrise, followed by an afternoon hike back to Pheriche.
It is all because Everest is blocked by the tall walls of Louche and Nuptse and sits behind its base camp. You will see Everest clearly from Kala Patthar only. During the morning, the weather becomes crystal mostly and you will have unobstructed views of the Himalayas. During the afternoon, the clouds might roll in making the atmosphere hazy. So, you may lose the view of Everest if you ascend in the afternoon.
However, if the weather is favorable and the forecast doesn’t call for the clouds to roll in in the afternoon of the 8th day, then I recommend substituting Kala Patthar for sunset on a day where you will witness the last rays of sun over the giant Himalayas.
During sunset, hikers will witness Mount Everest and the neighboring pinnacles glow up from the last moments of sun hitting the mountains, which is well-known as the alpenglow effect. Having the whole mountain range light up with the various pink/yellow/orange colors of the sky becomes one of the best moments in the entire lifetime.
By now, you may have heard so much about the Kala Patthar and its view. But what mountains actually you see from Kala Patthar? In short, you will have an astonishing view of the world’s tallest mountains including Mount Everest, Mount Nuptse, Mount Changtse, Mount Lhotse, and Mount Pumori along with Khumbu Glacier and Khumbu Icefall.
Mount Everest (8848.86M)
Pride of the world, Mt. Everest is popular among every traveler enthusiast. Many people listen to the name Nepal because of Mt. Everest. Seeing Mount Everest and step on the foot of it becomes a dream for many adventurers.
From Kala Patthar, trekkers will have sights of the top and the entire south face where Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand) and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa (Nepal) stepped atop on the 29th May 1953 for the first time.
As most of the parts of Mt. Everest is blocked by other giant peaks in front and it remains farther than those peaks, Mt. Everest itself doesn’t look like the highest peak in the region even from the top of the Kala Patthar summit.
Mount Nuptse (7861M)
Situated just 2 kilometers away from Mt. Everest, Mt. Nuptse is another dazzling mountain looks standing proud in front of Mount Everest and several trekkers confuse and assume that might be Mt. Everest. People have a love-hate relationship with this implausible massif. For one, it’s a truly splendid top, but on the other, it entirely blocks Mount Everest from Everest Base Camp.
Mount Changtse (7583M)
Popular as a North Peak, Mt. Changtse sits just north of Mt. Everest on a Tibetan side. This mountain is physically adjoined to Mt. Everest from the North col. This peak is not summited as often as another sub 8000M climbing peaks due to the organizational striving of climbing in Chinese Tibet.
Mount Lhotse (8516M)
Ranking as the 4th tallest peak in the world, Mt Lhotse is an astonishing peak connected with Mt. Everest from the south col. Popular as South Peak, climbing Lhotse is a much harder summit than Mount Everest itself. Trekkers will be welcomed by its gleaming sights from Kala Patthar. The Tibetan and Nepali borderline is strained using its peak as a reference, with the summit adjoining both countries.
Mount Pumori (7161M)
From Kala Patthar, Mt. Pumori looks taller than any other peak of the entire Everest region due to its proximity. Pumori is a combination of two separate words Pumo and Ri which means small girl or daughter and mountain respectively. The combined word Pumori can be translated as “the Mountain Daughter”.
As already mentioned, Kala Patthar is not usually a destination on its own, however more of a side trip on epic Khumbu itineraries such as Everest Base Camp Trek, Everest High Passes Trek, Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek, Gokyo Lakes Trek, or Island Peak Climbing.
Kala Patthar is famous not only for the utmost point of the entire Khumbu trek but it also offers much better views. And of course, you will get to see the peak of the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, standing proud in the Himalayan landscape at 8848.86m/29032ft high.
Here is some quick trekking advice before starting up to the summit of Kala Patthar.
For the mesmerizing sunrise, you ought to begin your trip as early as possible before dawn. You have two benefits walking early in the morning; one to get the mesmerizing Himalayan sceneries and another you can escape the crowd of the people on the trail (especially in the peak season-spring and autumn).
Be sure that you are Well Acclimatized
The Kala Patthar hike takes you to an elevation of at least 5545m/18192ft above sea level. For this reason, adequate acclimatization is highly advised to avoid the risk of High Altitude Sickness. Most of the adventurers follow strict acclimatization strategies on the way up to Gorak Shep to escape any issues upon reaching the top of Kala Patthar. Most trekkers spend an extra day in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche village each for the acclimatization purpose.
Bring Warm Clothes, Carry Right Gears and Equipment for the Top
I need not repeat about the highness of the Kala Patthar top. In this elevation, the freezing wind blows making the atmosphere even colder and you need to be safe from such circumstances. Since you will possibly want to spend a little more time at the top enjoying the view, make sure to bring extra layers of clothes. Trekking poles are also recommended as you are hiking almost 400m uphill and downhill (from and to Gorekshep). Comfortable trekking shoes are highly advised.
Get a Physical Map
While trekking in the high Himalayas, there is no supernumerary for a good physical trekking map. It applies to the Kala Patthar hike too. Buy a good map for a map for Everest Base Camp Trek, it will be sufficient for the entire trip.