Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar
Amazing! Right? It’s not base camp, but it’s so much more. The views from Kala Patthar are spectacular. You can not see this at base camp. From the top of this small mountain, on a clear day you can see past Kantega (snow saddle) to the far reaches of space (last picture in post). You can also see EBC! Kick back, relax, pin some images, if you want, and enjoy the adventure.
Day 9: Trek to Gorakshep
After speaking with the Chinese man, and watching Discovery Channel with him, I had breakfast and prepared my gear for departure to Gorakshep. As I was leaving 8,000 Inn I was asked if I wanted to see the research facility. I happily agreed and received a full tour. It was surprisingly well equipped. We spent about 30 minutes chatting about science and the research that was done at the facility. It was a great send off to start trekking.
We walked up a small hill past a weather station and a large plot of solar panels. Cresting the hill, we could see the tip of Mehra Peak, and Nuptse in full display. A giant mass of rock and snow towering 25,790 feet into the air. In my humble opinion, Nuptse looks far more aesthetically appealing when viewed from the east. Its southern face is also nice but reminds me too much of the Mona Lisa. The western face is more dynamic with ice shelfs, and glaciers rolling off of it.
Nuptse (center) and Mera (trailing off the right-hand side)
After gawking at Nuptse for a few minutes we continued trekking. We turned a corner headed north and were once again struck with striking views of the mountains. We could see Changri, Pumo Ri, Lingtren, Khumbutse, Nuptse, and Everest Base Camp on Khumbu Glacier. It was like walking up to a giant wall of snow covered mountains. It was enjoyable to follow their striations across and down looking at the different layers of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
From left to right: Pumo Ri, Lingtren, Khumbutse, and part of Nuptse
We walked a little further and Everest began to come up over Nuptse. Though it was visible along other sections of the trek, it was difficult to fully appreciate the fullness of it until this moment. I started thinking that 60 million years ago this mountain was a bump on the sea floor of a shallow tropical ocean. How far we’ve come. Growth begins in some of the most unlikely places.
From left to right: Lho La, Everest, and Nuptse. The light-colored bands near the top of Everest are the remnants of a sea floor.
We came to the end of Lobuche Pass and started crossing Changri Nup, and Changri Shar Glaciers. This proved to be a little difficult. It wasn’t technical and didn’t require a huge amount of endurance or strength. It required attention. I was extremely distracted by the mountains. I eventually gave up the mountain views and focused on my foot placement. Walking on glaciers can be extremely dangerous. Sometimes I forgot I was on a glacier because there is a thick layer of soil covering most of it.
After a few descents and ascents, we came to Gorakshep. We checked into Hotel Snow Land and departed to Kala Patthar. Our goal was to climb 1,345 feet to 18,208 feet before the sun set. The climb was arduous much like the previous 8 days. After the first initial incline Kala Patthar levels out then sharply inclines. As we were beginning the second incline I saw a Nepali woman running down the mountain. I thought how nice that must be. I kept chugging along but a little more humbly.
Pumo Ri, Kala Patthar, Gorakshep, and lingtren
Though the hike up only took a couple of hours, it felt like days. I am getting dizzy just thinking about it. But when we made it to the top it didn’t matter. The views were worth every ache and pain. The weather was perfectly clear though windy and extremally cold. And with spectacular amazement I could see everything! Well not quite but close. I had panoramic views of Pumo Ri, Lingtren, Khumbustse, Changtse, Lho La, Mt. Everest, Nuptse, Khumbu Glacier, Mehra Peak, Ama Dablam, Pokalde, Kangtega, and Thamserku.
Lho La, Everest, Nuptse, and Khumbu Glacier. The moon is in the left hand corner.
The only thing better than the quantity of mountains I could see was the quality of the view. I am running out of adjectives to describe the mountains. This is my fault for not majoring in English, instead opting for science. Please forgive the repetition… amazing, spectacular, breathtaking, awesome, beautiful, surreal, fantastic, loom large, erupting in my imagination. Perhaps this poem by Gary Snyder can better describe the mountains
Beneath my Hand and Eye the Distant Hills, Your Body
What my hand follows on your body
Is the line. A stream of love
of heat, of light, what my
far snow-dappled Uintah mountains
Is that stream
Of power. what my
hand curves over, following the line.
“hip” and “groin”
follow by hand and eye
the swimming limit of your body.
As when vision idly dallies on the hills
Loving what it feeds on.
soft cinder cones and craters;
-Drum Hadley in the Pinacate
took ten minutes more to look again-
A leap of power unfurling:
My heart beat faster looking
at the snowy Uintah Mountains.
What “is” within not know
but feel it
sinking with a breath
pusht ruthless, surely, down.
Beneath this long caress of hand and eye
“we” learn the flowering burning,
outward, from “below”.
I know the poem isn’t about the Himalayas but it doesn’t make it any less applicable to them. After an intimate moment taking in the views we began the hike down to Hotel Snow Land. I was satisfied with an air of accomplishment. If I had been on a beach in Florida, I would have been strutting hard. But I slowly walked down the slope only stopping to take a picture of this beautiful Tibetan Snow Cock.
We reached Hotel Snow Land just before night. I’m glad I didn’t stay on Kala Patthar for the sun set. It wasn’t anything spectacular or extraordinary. When we entered the hotel, most of the people I met in Dingboche were there. They were all huddled around a yak dung furnace. It was putting off some major heat and I was happy to grab a seat around the “fire”. Something about the hotel seemed off to me. I was the only one to notice it.
The entire hotel was off plumb or not level. The hotel slanted to west. This would later prove to be painful. I told the other guide members and trekkers but nobody believed me until I put my water bottle on the ground and it started rolling. Everyone gasped in amazement as if I just performed a magic trick. It is frustrating sometimes.
I decided I had enough with the parlor trick and went to my room to be unbelieved in peace. The bed felt uncomfortable but I didn’t really give it much thought. Later, after waking up with a headache, I realized I was sleeping with my head lower than my feet. I really don’t like this hotel. I remember thinking, what kind of jerk builds a hotel modeled after the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I had to fix my bed and arrange my bedding to compensate for the tilt.
The rooms are the standard size about 100 square feet. The beds did not seem to be clean but I was so tired I really didn’t care. And since I slept in my sleeping bag it didn’t really matter anyway. I used the second beds bedding as an additional cover and stayed pretty warm. The bathrooms are down the hall with squat style toilets. This hotel is pretty basic. I don’t really have much more to say about it.
Have a super-duper weekend!