The alarm was set for 4:30AM but I was awake by 4, nervously anticipating the trek up to Kala Patthar that morning. Luckily we didn’t have to pack before we left at 5AM as we could come back for breakfast before leaving Gorak Shep. We had a quick cup of tea, split a Mars bar between us (they really are a godsend for hiking!) and went on our way.
The hike up to Kala Patthar is much steeper than to Base Camp, but then it is 300 metres higher at around 5,600 metres. We snaked our way up the hillside before we started the steeper climb up rocks towards the summit.
The view down the rocky climb up to Kala Patthar summit:
The views of Everest were increasingly more stunning the higher we got. The mountains looked amazing with the sun coming up behind them:
Finally we were at the top. It is a bit of a scramble over rocks at the very end so we abandoned our walking poles and pretty much crawled up to the top for a quick photo:
The prayer flags fluttering in the breeze with the sun shining and mountains behind them made an amazing sight:
After about ten minutes at the top we decided to start to make our descent. While going downhill is definitely easier than climbing up, it does take it out of your legs so it took us a good hour to reach the bottom. I have to say, when I saw people just starting the climb as we had finished I felt a little smug to have done it already – I couldn’t wait to go back into the warm and have breakfast. I treated myself to chocolate pancakes for the occasion!
We had breakfast and rested for an hour and then we had to be on our way. We would either hike back to Pheriche, where we had been a few days ago, or even lower if we had the energy, to Pangboche. We both wanted to get to Pangboche ideally to reach a lower altitude, but we knew this required extra walking time… Lower altitude = more energy, better sleep and less funky dreams (seriously, you get some crazy dreams at high altitude!)
Before we left we noticed that lots of other trekkers had left a little something behind in the main room of the lodge at Gorak Shep to remember their trip. The walls and ceiling were packed with flags, poster am scarves, even frisbees:
We didn’t plan ahead for this (Jack wished he had brought an Arsenal scarf) so we fashioned a little message from some passport photos, paper and black tape. I think the photos look a bit like prison mugshots but never mind!
Here we are immortalised on the ceiling:
After this Blue Peter moment we decided to head off on our way.
After the initial high of the morning’s achievement started to wane we felt more and more knackered. We struggled for the 4 hours to Pheriche where we would have lunch. The last hour was particularly painful as Pheriche is down in the valley in what feels like a wind tunnel. I also managed to fall on a rock and cut my leg (woe is me). Anyway, we had lunch and decided that even though we had been walking for 7 hours already that day we would continue out of windy-ville to Pangboche to make the next day after a little easier for us.
We FINALLY reached Pangboche after a whopping 9 hours of walking and found a nice lodge to stay in. We were beyond tired. We forced some dinner down and went straight to bed, trying to keep warm in our sleeping bags and wearing our head torches to navigate the dark bedroom.
The next day we had demanded a lie in, a 7:30 breakfast anyway, before leaving for Namche. Luckily for us, and our guide, we had a great nights sleep!