Kala Patthar Sunrise

The day began with the alarm clock beeping in the dark.  I was relieved.  Sleep in such high altitude had been a bit labored.  And I was excited.  We were going to view the sunrise.

A cup of hot chocolate, many layers of down and wool, head lamps… we left our tea house in Gorak Shep to begin the climb up Kala Patthar.

Everest is the second peak from the left.

We were racing the sun.  It was behind the mountains, and we wanted to be high enough to see Everest – ever hiding behind the others.  (Even the previous day when we’d hiked to Everest Base Camp, the top of that mountain continually tried to hide from us.) 

But it’s incredibly difficult to race the sun when you’re on a steep incline, and the air contains only 50% of the oxygen you’re used to, and it’s in the teens with a wind chill making it extremely frigid.  So, one slow step after another, six of us inched our way up the trail.

Surrounded by such massive peaks, Kala Patthar almost looks like a hill.  (It’s the brown one in front of the white one.)  We found the perfect ridge to sit and watch the Himalayas come to life at 18,000 feet.

It was the highest and coldest half hour of our trek in Nepal.  And while I was ready to head back down for a hot breakfast and prepare for the nine mile descending hike for the day… I also wanted to stay there in that icy cold shadow of Mt. Everest.  In every direction, the white beauties were changing colors, bright light hitting their steep sides.  The rosy sky was turning soft blue.


I had not made it to the top of Kala Patthar, but that didn’t matter. 

This was my hardest day.  This was more gorgeous than I could have imagined.  

Sitting there, staring at these incredible mountains.  This was my summit.


9 Responses to “Kala Patthar Sunrise”

  1. Marcea Clive says:

    Breathtaking! ! !

  2. lawaanda calton says:

    Wow….so cold! So beautiful! I’m happy for your experience!

  3. Bette says:

    Breathtakingly Beautiful!!

  4. Betty Williamson says:

    Stunning photos. You can just keep on going with this series, as far as I’m concerned. It will take a very long time for me to get tired of this.

  5. Cheryl says:

    I agree with Betty! Thanks, Sandy…for your sharing AND your passion.

  6. Sandy says:

    I’m a bit sad to watch my posts come winding to a halt. Two more after this one. I’ve loved being able to share the journey with all of you!

  7. Robin Green says:

    How could you even put one foot in front of the other with only 50% of normal oxygen??? Did you have an oxygen mask available? It makes me think of a fish trying to crawl across the kitchen table and wondering why he’s not making much progress. Very brave. And obviously the resulting views were very worthwhile. I’m sure you’re glad you trained extensively on the great and powerful StairMaster.

  8. Kim says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  9. Sandy says:

    You put one foot in front of the other VERY slowly! Yes, I will admit… quite proud of my hard work and training for this trek.

    Our guides from Active Adventures are skillfully prepared for this. They have altitude meds at the ready, and they took us to that elevation over a very slow and methodical series of days. I never needed the meds, and never even got a headache. I was thrilled! (And when it was time to head back to lower elevation, I was very excited about how easy it was going to be to sleep!)

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