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Kala Patthar is a viewpoint landmark on the south ridge of Pumori in the Himalayas of Nepal. The ascent of Kala Patthar is very popular with trekkers in the region of Mount Everest since it provides the most unobstructed view of Everest. At sunrise, it is said that Everest shines like a golden crown above the ridge, and the view is surreal. The Kala Patthar trek is an optional add-on when hiking the Everest Base Camp, but it is not an official trek.
Geographic Location and Terrain: It lies on the southern ridge of Mt. Pumori of the Mahalangur Himalayan Range. It is the highest point you can reach during the Everest Base Camp trek. However, as the summit’s elevation relative to its surrounding terrain (in short-prominence) is roughly 10m, Kala Patthar is not considered an actual mountain.
Regarding its elevation from sea level, the research conducted by Dr. Luis A. Ruedas, an assistant professor at Portland State University, on 6th December 2006, concluded it to be 5,643m or 18,514ft. According to the GPS survey, the coordinates of the place are found to be 27°59.750’N, 86°49.705’E. It lies north of the Gorakshep, a popular settlement that sits on the edge of a frozen lake bed covered with sand in the Khumbu region.
Origin of the name “Kala Patthar”: Kala Patthar roughly translates to “Black Stone” in English. The name is of Hindi origin despite most Himalayan names being derived from either the Sherpa or Nepali language.
How to get to Kala Patthar?
There are two main ways to reach Kala Patthar. One is through a grueling trek, as most people prefer, and the other is through a Helicopter from Lukla or Kathmandu. The details regarding the routes are mentioned below:
- Helicopter ride through Lukla or Kathmandu: The helicopter tours are generally for people with limited time. They can also be taken as a luxurious venture. These aerial tours typically begin in the early morning and are concluded by noon. The flight from Kathmandu commences by passing through the green hills towards the thrilling airstrip of Lukla. The helicopter stops for a short break at Lukla, mainly to refuel, and heads towards Kala Patthar. Popular settlements like Pangboche, Dingboche, and Tengboche can be seen from the chopper. The estimated cost of the flight is roughly 1000 USD with a capacity of 5 passengers on board.
- Trekking through the EBC route: The most preferable way to reach Kala Patthar is trekking through the Everest Base Camp trail. Many people visit the landmark on their way to the base camp. The trek usually starts by taking a flight to Lukla from Kathmandu. After Lukla is a long trek where you pass through Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, and Pangboche eventually reaching Gorakshep. It is a small settlement that sits on the edge of a frozen lakebed covered with sand. The steep ascent towards Kala Patthar usually takes 1.5 to 2 hours from Gorakshep. Before arriving at the exact location, you must spend five to ten minutes scrambling over boulders that are marked with prayer flags. If the attempt is made from Lobuche, it will take an additional 2 to 3 hours.
What are the major attractions at Kala Patthar?
Kala Patthar is famous for its 360-degree panoramic view of the Great Himalayas. The main peaks observed from the summit are mentioned below:
|Above 8000m||Above 7000m||Above 6000m|
|Nuptse(7,861m), Changtse(7,583m), Pumori(7,161m)||Ama Dablam, Chumbu|
Thamserku, KangtegaTaboche and Lobuche
The breathtaking sunrise at Kala Patthar is one of the exceptional views of the Himalayas. It is well worth the exhausting days of trekking on the EBC trail. As the sun rises over the Khumbu region, the warm sun’s rays gradually hit the back of the tallest mountains. The trekkers who have been to the landmark consider it the most epic sunrise of their life on the top of the world.
There is a high chance of observing the view at sunrise as there are no weather constraints. However, the sunset is a different story. The disturbances in weather and the formation of clouds result in low visibility during most of the evenings. If one is lucky enough, the setting sun forms a pinkish-yellow alpenglow on the peaks which is strikingly vibrant to the eye.
In short, the best time to catch sight of the beautiful Himalayas is the early morning. The journey may be chilling and unfriendly but the sight at the top makes it well worth the effort.
What is the best time to trek to Kala Patthar?
The altitude of the summit and the close proximity to the Himalayas result in unpredictable weather. The prime time to trek to Kala Patthar is from March to May and from September to December. These months feature warm temperatures, good visibility, and generally stable weather with little precipitation. The skies are clear and transparent and the temperature is bearable ensuring the best view of the mountains.
Why Kala Patthar is considered the best viewpoint of Everest?
The close-up triangular mastiff of Everest whilst being the most accessible is the main reason behind the popularity of the Kala Patthar summit. It is the highest altitude that trekkers can reach without a climbing permit. Veteran trekkers describe the view from the summit makes you feel like you’re so close to Everest you could reach out and touch it.
Another huge contender for the mesmerizing view of Everest is from Gokyo-Ri. The four tallest mountains (Everest, Makalu, Cho Oyu and Lhotse) can be seen from the 5,375m peak. The peak itself is a tough climb as the terrain is very steep and the altitude itself is scary. However, if we solely look at the view of Everest, Gokyo-Ri may stand after Kala Patthar.
Cho-La is also an Everest viewpoint considered top-tier. It is a summit situated at 5450m above sea level. Some local trekkers deem it to be the best view but the sheer mountain climbing skills needed to reach this pass may put this behind Kala Patthar.
In conclusion, we can say that there is no better place to get a much clearer and broader view of Mount Everest than Kala Patthar. It is less challenging than other viewpoints of Everest and the sight is breathtaking.
Is Altitude Sickness a major concern at Kala Patthar?
Altitude Sickness or Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is the effect on the body of being in a high altitude environment. AMS is common at high altitudes, usually above 2,440 meters. It is a common problem for hikers with health problems. It’s important to acclimatize in order to reduce the chance of getting altitude sickness.
Since Kala Patthar is at a height of 5,643m, the risk of altitude sickness is pretty high. It is very close to an extremely high altitude and has an oxygen content of less than 50%. You must therefore acclimatize at a lower altitude. It will be best to stay in Namche Bazaar for at least three days because it will be dangerous to ascend to a higher altitude so quickly. Namche Bazaar is close to an elevation of 3,400 meters. After that, you should stay at least two nights in Dingboche, which is located at an elevation of 4,260 m. Your time in Dingboche will ensure that you can adapt your attitude to being at a higher altitude.