Probably the best tip anyone can get on the EBC trek is to also climb Kala Patthar
I’m writing this because recently I’ve noticed a few trekkers come back from doing the Everest Base Camp trek saying they never even heard of Kala Patthar or others who are being charged extra to climb it. The reason for this? Some independent trekkers not researching a thing about EBC, a few lazy guides and some big online trekking companies penny pinching.
Most trekking companies include the “side” trip up Kala Patthar, but it seems some of the younger guides out there are quietly pretending it doesn’t exist. A few big companies are doing the same thing or charging extra for it. Yes it’s rare, but it’s also important to know that it should be included in your trek at no extra cost.
Where is Kala Patthar?
It’s a mountain at Gorak Shep which overlooks the front of Everest Base Camp and the Khumbu Glacier. Kala Patthar reaches a height of 5,643 meters. The name Kala Patthar literally means “black rock” which is exactly what it is.
The start of Kala Patthar is actually right by Gorak Shep which is where most people spend the night when visiting Everest Base Camp. There are plenty of tea houses and trekking lodges there.
When should you climb Kala Patthar?
There are generally two time frames to climbing Kala Patthar. Most people arrive into Gorak Shep just before lunch time. With a good guide they’ll know the weather, how you are feeling and suggest that after lunch you either climb Kala Patthar or go to visit Everest Base Camp. Then the next morning you’ll see the one you didn’t get to see when you first arrived.
In other words if the weather is great when you arrive your guide might opt to take you straight out to Everest Base Camp. You then go back to Gorak Shep for the night. The next morning you get up and climb Kala Patthar for the views before descending down from EBC.
The other scenario is your guide might opt to climb Kala Patthar after lunch when you arrive at Gorak Shep and save Everest Base Camp until the next morning. It really depends on the weather and how you are feeling.
Is it hard to climb Kala Patthar?
Well, that depends on the time of year you go, the weather and how tired you are. On average, it’s not so hard and worth every step!
Trekking times are individual. However most people make it up and down within 4 hours. Kala Patthar is a steep climb filled with small rocks and larger boulders.
At the top there are numerous prayer flags, the worlds highest web-cam and the best view of the Everest Base Camp area in the world (that’s why you should really try to go up)
Can you climb Kala Patthar as a solo trekker? Yep, there are no restrictions to climbing Kala Patthar.
What can you see from the top of Kala Patthar?
You will, weather permitting, get the best view of Everest from here as it’s peaking over the other big triangular mountain known as Nuptse.
You’ll also get to see all the great mountains of the Everest region including Lingtren (6714m), Kumbutse (6636m), Changtse (7550m), Lho-La (6036m), Everest (8848m), Nuptse (7863M), Kali Himal (6985), Ama Dablans (6856m), Kangtega (6635m). Here you can see a larger photograph of the view from Kala Patthar of Everest.
Why are guides not going up to the top of Kala Patthar?
They are. Well, most of them. However there are some who recently can’t be bothered it seems. They’ll take you to Everest Base Camp but the idea of climbing another 4 hours seems to be an extra effort for them.
Last week a young “independent” trekker announced they were “doing Everest without a guide because … there was no need”. I asked him if he’d been trekking before. Nope. I asked if he valued his life … he looked at me as if I were stupid. I asked if he was going to climb Kala Patthar? He looked confused … ho hum.
I wrapped up the short conversation by asking him to at least look at the right travel insurance for trekking in Nepal. Now, at the minimum, if he does do something to damage himself, he’ll be covered.
This post can be used by you as a “tip” to make sure that you do get to climb Kala Patthar as part of your Everest Base Camp trek. It’s not an extra trek or side trip. It’s a part of the Everest Base Camp trek. Don’t get conned into someone saying it’s an “extra” either.
Climbing Kala Patthar is a part of the Everest Base Camp trek and always has been since its inception.
It’s a once in a life time trip so I do think it’s important that everyone should get the most out of it. Hence I’m writing about it here.
What can I do to make sure my guide takes me to Kala Patthar?
Before you go or book, ask. Simple as that.
“Are we going to the top of Kala Patthar?”
If they say no (most will say yes), then look somewhere else for a guide.
If they say yes, but it’s an extra, then look somewhere else for a guide.
If you booked a highly expensive international tour online and they mumble something about “either or”, “it depends on …” or something about “time permitting” then move on from them, get your money back and read my guide about how to find a guide in Nepal.
Where can I learn more about doing the Everest Base Camp trek & get more insider tips?
That’s easy, just read my fully up to date free online guide to Everest Base Camp or get the book below!
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