In November 2010 I went on a trek to the Kalapathar top near the Everest base camp. The path winds up through some amazing high altitude scenery to one of the best view points in the Himalayas, the Kalapathar top. The trek was not very difficult. If you love mountains and are reasonably fit this is a “must do” trek.
I am posting a brief travelogue of this trek in this post. You can also download a Google Earth kmz file containing the treking routes and locations mentioned in this post from a link at the end of the post.
09 Nov 2010
Landed at Lukla 11:30 pm – Lunch at Namste Lodge and Restaurant 12 pm – Left Lukla 1 pm – Reached Snowland Lodge 3 pm
The Agni Air flight to Lukla was 2 hours late due to bad weather at the Lukla airport. We would be flying in a Dornier 228 aircraft which could seat 17 passengers in two rows.The plane was finally ready for boarding at 10:30 am and I was the first person to enter the aircraft. I managed to get the first seat on the left aisle. Usually the Lukla flight offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas, but today the view was obscured due to cloud cover. Although we did manage to see a few peaks here and there through the gaps. The flight was quite exciting as the aircraft flies very low to avoid the clouds and clears some passes and ridges by only 200-300 feet. The landing at Lukla was even more thrilling. I got a “pilot’s eye” veiw of the proceedings there being no door seperating the passengers from the cockpit.
The airfield is a small strip perched halfway up a mountain side. The aircraft comes in from the valley and heads straight for the mountain. One look and it is clear that landing on Lukla airport is a one shot affair. There is no scope for a turn around as there is a 2 km high mountain wall just behind the airstrip. As soon as the wheels touched down the pilot put on the brakes and the aircraft juddered to a halt in front of the small airport building. After collecting our luggage we walked out of the airport and met our porter, Kishore Rai. From the airport it was a short walk to the Namste Lodge and Restaurant a nice, clean hotel run by a Sherpa family. After downing good Nepali lunch we started walking for Phakding at 1 pm. The walk was mostly downhill and the trail was good. We reached hotel Snowland Lodge in Phakding by 3 pm. The rooms were small but nice and clean. Our room even had an attached toilet, a great luxury in these parts.
10 Nov 2010
Departure for Namche Bazar 8:30am – Reached Jorsalle at 11:30am, had lunch – Left Jorsalle at 12:15 am – reached Namche Bazar gate at 2 pm – Were in our hotel by 3 pm
We started for Namche Bazar at 8:30 am. The trail runs along the Dudh Kosi river, crossing the river a few time over spectacular suspension bridges. It was nice and sunny with a few clouds scattered about. We crossed Benkar, a small village with a few well located guest houses, at about 9:30 am. Benkar has a beautiful view of the Thamserku peak and could be a good place to stay if one wants to walk a bit longer and not stop at Phakding on the first night. We showed our documents and bought the tickets to the Sagarmatha National Park at the park administrative building at Monjo. The entrance to the park is marked by a nice tibetan style gate.
Reached Jorsalle, the last village before the climb to Namche Bazar, and stoped for lunch at 11:30 am. After Jorsalle the trail crosses the Dudh Kosi River and starts the steep 600m climb to Namche Bazar. If the weather is clear one can see Mount Everest from the corner of a hairpin bend just below Namche Bazar. We were lucky, we got our first glimpse of the world’s highest peak from this point. We celebrated our “Everest darshan” with a small orange bought from a roadside hawker for the outrageous price of Rs. 50 .
By 2 pm we had reached the entrance gate of Namche Bazar. There is a police check point here and our permits were checked. There were four male Himalayan Monals (Lophophorus impejanus) feeding in a field just below the check point about 40 meters from the track. I could also see a femal Himalayan Thar (Hemitragus jemahicus) with a calf standing under a rock over hang about 500 meters away. Krishna, our guide, told us that this was a rescue centre for the Himalayan Thars. Our hotel was located above Namche Bazar village. We were in our rooms by 4 pm.
11 Nov 2010
Acclimatisation Day – Walked up to the Everest View Hotel at Syangboche.
Left the hotel at 8:30 am and walked up the trail. After about a kilometer the route to Syangboche leaves the main Everest base camp trail and starts climbing up. It is a short climb to the ridge line. It was a clear day with a scattering of cirrus clouds and we got a very spectacular view of Mount Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. Everest is visible behind the ridge connecting Nuptse and Lohtse. The track continues along the right edge of the ridge and skirts the Syangboche airfeild, a small dirt strip with no buildings, before it reaches the Everest View Hotel. The outdoor restaurant of Everest Hotel also offers a panoramic view of range of mountains to the north.
We had a cup of tea while admiring Mount Everest and its companions and then headed back for Namche Bazar. We were back in our hotel by 2 pm and after lunch we went down to Namche Bazar to explore the town.
12 Nov 2010
Started for Tengboche at 8:30 am.
The trail runs parallel to the ridge, about 400 m above the valley floor, till the town of Kyangjuma. The weather had become much cooler by now and we were enveloped in a fine mist which turned the landscape into a fairy tale land. Soon we were in Kyangjuma where we had some ginger-lemon tea. From Kyangjuma the trail descends to Phungki Thenga a small settlement in the valley. This is the last village before Tengboche. We had our lunch here. From Phungki Thenga a steep ascent (500 m) brings one to Tenboche (3870 m). We reached Tenboche at 1:45 pm. It was overcast and there was a slight drizzle. We checked in at the Tengboche lodge, owned by the Tengboche monastry. After lunch we went to see the evening Puja at the Tengboche monastery. The drizzle continued throughout the night.
13 Nov 2010
8:30 am departure for Dingboche – Lunch at Shomare – Reached Dinboche Family Guest House at 2pm
It had rained/snowed throughout the night. The mountains around us were covered with a fresh blanket of snow and the ground too had slight sprinkling of snow. It was still overcast but the clouds were quite high, at about 4500m. The trail enters a very beautiful rhododendron forest just after the meadow at Tenboche and then it drops down to the Imja Khola, which is crossed by a spectacular suspension bridge. The weather cleared up and we got to see spectacular views of the beautiful Ama Dablam peak and Lohtse. The summit of Everest was stll visible above the Nuptse wall. While we were enjoying the views of Ama Dablam I spotted a pair of Himalayan Thars (Hemitragus jemahicus) just above us. I managed to get some nice photographs of these magnificent animals after a bit of climbing. The trail climbs past Pangboche and reaches Shomare where we stopped for lunch. At Shomare the main Everest Base Camp trail heads off to the left while we forked off to the right towards Dingboche (4300m), a small settlement above the tree line. We reached our destination, Hotel “Family Guest House” at Dingboche, at 2 pm.
14 Nov 2010
Acclimatization Day – Walked to a small lake (4675 m) across the river on the way to Ama Dablam Base camp.
After a leisurely breakfast we walked down towards the river and crossed it on a small wooden bridge. We followed a faint foot path and climbed up on the hill opposite Dingboche. A steep (400m) cross country climb bought us to a plateau which has two small lakes. The view from this point is spectacular. The star attraction is the Lohtse wall to the north, one of the highest unclimbed walls in the world. One can also see Nuptse, Lohtse, Lohtse Shar, P38 , Mukut and Ama Dablam. Towards the west one can also see the Makalu, at 8481m the 5th highest peak in the world. We spent a couple hours enjoying the clear weather and the spectacular sight before walking back to our hotel.
15 Nov 2010
Left for Lobuche 8am – Tea at Dhugla 10:30 am – Reached Lobuche (4900 m) 12 pm
Started for Lobuche at 8 am. The trail heads back west and crosses a small ridge to join the main Everest base camp track. The gradient is not very steep but the effects of the high altitude can be felt. We reached Dhugla, a small one hotel settlement, at 10:30am and had a 30 minute halt. Enjoyed a cup of ginger-lemon tea. After Dhugla the track climbs up steeply and gains 250 m in less than 2 km. It is tough going but this is the last steep climb before Lobuche.We reached hotel Sherpa Lodge, Lobuche at 12 pm. After lunch we walked out and enjoyed a truly amazing sunset on Nuptse and Pumori.
16 Nov 2010
Left for Gorak Shep at 8:15 am – reached Gorak Shep (5150m) at 10 am – walked up to Kala Pathar (5600m)
Woke up at 6:30 am and walked to the stream outside to wash up. The sun was not up yet and it was freezing. There was ice all along the stream. Saw three male Great Rosefinches (Carpodacus rubicillia) playing around near the stream. We started for Gorak Shep at 8:15 am. Had to cross a glacier just before Gorak Shep and, although the track was fairly good most of the time, some patches did need a little care while crossing. Reached Hotel Buddha Lodge – Gorak Shep (5150m) at 10am. Gorak Shep is located in a corner of a flat dry lake bed just below the Kala Pathar peak. After a quick lunch we started trekking up towards the Kala Patthar peak. The sky was overcast when we started but we decided to take a chance with the weather. As both of us are photographers, we decided to climb and wait for the sunset at Kala Patthar top instead going to the actual “Everest Base Camp”. Kala Pathar is one of the best view points in the Himalayas, while from the Everest Base Camp one can’t even see Mount Everest. Our plan was to spend as much time as possible on Kala Pathar. As we were looking at the west face of Everest, sunset was the best time for good photography. If we did not succeed today we planned to climb up Kala Pathar again tomorrow and even on the day after.
The trek up to Kala Patthar top is quite steep. Fully loaded with equipment, we walked up slowly. The weather began to clear up as we neared the top. Once on the top we put up our tripods and began to shoot. Although the sun kept playing hide and seek with the clouds, we did get some good shots of the spectacular panorama in front of us. An hour before the sunset the clouds covered up Mount Everest and it seemed that the show had ended. Some people started moving down towards Gorak Shep as it was already very windy and cold. We decided to brave the cold and wait till the sun was safely below the horizon. Mount Everest did not disappoint us. About 20 minutes before sunset the sky miraculously cleared up and we witnessed one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen in my life. After enjoying the sunset till the end we walked down to Gorak Shep in the darkness, mission accomplished.
17 Nov 2010
Started for Pheriche 8am – reached Pumori lodge, Pheriche 2pm
As the sky was heavily overcast and it looked as if might even rain, we decided to turn around and head back. We left Hotel Buddha Lodge at 8 am after a nice breakfast. Just 100 meters from Buddha lodge I saw four Tibetan Snowcocks (Tetraogallus tibetanus). They were only 30 meters away and were very confiding. I started photographing them and slowly walked up to them. They let me approach to 10 feet before slowly walking away. Even at this range they were not alarmed or intimidated. It was a very surreal experience as usally these birds are extremely shy. Reached Pumori lodge at Pheriche at 2 pm. This lodge is run by the same person who runs the Family Guest House at Dingboche.
18 Nov 2010
Started for Tengboche 8:30 am – Had tea at Pangboche – Reached Tengboche Lodge 12 pm.
19 Nov 2010
Started for Namche Bazar 8 am – Had ginger lemon tea at Kyangjuma – Reached Hotel Tashi Dele – Namche Bazar 11:30 am
The walk from Tengboche to Namche Bazar was uneventful except for the sighting of a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) soaring very low above us at Kyangjuma where we had stopped for tea. After a quick lunch at Tashi Dele we walked down to Namche Bazar to see the weekly market which is held every Thursday. Buyers and sellers come from all over the Khumbu region and some even trek all the way from Tibet. We did see some fierce wild looking Tibetan Khampa’s selling cheap Chinese goods.
20 Nov 2010
Started for Phakding 8:15am – Reached hotel Snowland Phakding 12:15 am
21 Nov 2010
Started for Lukla 7 am – Reached Lukla 9 am
Reached Lukla in time for our flight but all the flights were canceled due to bad weather. Checked in at Namaste Lodge to wait for our flight
22 Nov 2010
Flight to back to Kathmandu
Download a Google Earth kmz file containing the trekking routes and destinations mentioned in this post:
Email address of our guide whom we recommend very highly :
Krishna Rana also called Kim,
email : email@example.com Telephone : +977 98416 59223