The Kala Patthar trek from Gorak Shep leads trekkers to one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the Himalayas, and perhaps the world.
From the top, you’ll get the best views of Mt Everest yet, as well as the other Himalayan giants like Pumori, Nuptse, Changtse and the summit of Lhotse. It’s truly one of the most brilliant panoramas that I have ever experienced.
About the Famous Kala Patthar Trek
KALA PATTHAR VIEWPOINT ALTITUDE: 5643M
For the English translation, Kala Patthar literally means “black rock” in the local Nepali language. It’s easy to see why once you approach it, as it’s a prominent rock sticking out from the south ridge of Pumori (7161 M), not far from Gorak Shep (5160 M).
Kala Patthar is a very popular trek, primarily due to most Everest Base Camp trekkers including it on their itineraries in order for them to get views of Mount Everest.
The rock itself isn’t a peak and doesn’t require any special training or climbing equipment. In saying that, due to its location, the Kala Patthar viewpoint offers spectacular panoramic views that some much higher peaks just can’t offer.
Read on for some quick trekking advice before commencing up to the summit of Kala Patthar.
During peak Himalayan trekking seasons, the trail to Kala Patthar can get very crowded. In order to beat the crowds, I recommend leaving early, just before dawn. Not only will there most likely be fewer trekkers, but you’ll also get the best chance of clear weather for that perfect panorama.
Ensure That You Are Acclimatized to 5643M
The Kala Patthar trek will lead you to an altitude of at least 5643M above sea-level. For this reason, proper acclimatization is highly recommended to avoid the risk of altitude sickness, or AMS. Since I am not a doctor, I can’t give you acclimatization advice. However, most trekkers follow strict acclimatization strategies on the way up to Gorak Shep to avoid any issues upon reaching the top of Kala Patthar.
Bring Warm Clothes for the Top
This should go without saying for anyone thinking of trekking to altitudes this high. Let me tell you that temperatures at the top of the Kala Patthar trek can get freezing cold! Since you’ll probably want to spend a little more time at the top enjoying the view, make sure to bring extra layers!
Carry a Physical Map
There’s no substitute for a good, physical map when you’re in the Himalayas. The best map for Kala Patthar, Everest Base Camp, and The Three Passes Trek can be purchased here.
Travel Insurance for the Kala Patthar Trek
For most trekkers looking to tackle the Three Passes, travel insurance is high on their list of priorities.
I always purchase travel insurance from WorldNomads.com, since I believe that they are the best for adventure travelers. It includes cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including trekking in the Himalayas.
Kala Patthar on the Three Passes or Everest Camp Trek
Kala Patthar isn’t usually a destination on its own, but more of a side trip on bigger Khumbu trekking itineraries such as the Three High Passes Trek and the Everest Base Camp trek.
I’m sure that many other trekkers share my views when I say that Kala Patthar is more of a trekking highlight than Everest Base Camp itself. Not only is it a more rewarding hike as you’ll need to climb to a higher altitude, but it also offers much better views. And of course, you’ll get to see the summit of the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, standing proud in the Himalayan landscape at 8848M high.
At the moment, my guides are the only sources of free content available online for the Three Passes Trek. If you’re looking for more information, then you could also get a copy of the Lonely Planet: Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya Book which was very useful for me.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST FOR EVEREST BASE CAMP: Everest Three High Passes Trek Day 10 – 12 EVEREST BASE CAMP – ULTIMATE GUIDE
The Kala Patthar Trekking Guide
The Kala Patthar trek begins on the other side of the sand bowl at Gorak Shep. You’ll notice a sign pointing up the hill towards a rocky outcrop wrapped in Prayer Flags at the top. It’s difficult to miss the trail since you’ll no doubt already have spotted trekkers walking up and down as you entered Gorak Shep.
The trail itself begins by winding up the bowl along rock and dirt, before leveling off and continuing upwards in a straighter direction to the summit.
It will take you roughly 1.5 hours to reach the Kala Patthar viewpoint for the average trekker. However, the descent will be much quicker, as it is all down-hill. Expect a total of 4 hours, including time at the top to enjoy the views.
The trek up is fairly steep, reaching an altitude of 5643M, however since trekkers will begin at an altitude already well above 5000M, it’s a much easier climb than other Three Passes and Everest Base Camp side-trips such as Chukhung Ri.
The steepest part is towards the end of the trek, however, you’ll have the black rock wrapped in Prayer Flags well in sight, making the ascent a lot easier.
The Kala Patthar View – What Mountains Can You See From Kala Patthar?
By now you’ll have heard so much about that Kala Patthar view. But what mountains can you see from Kala Patthar? From the top, you’ll have panoramic views of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, Mount Nuptse, Mount Changtse, Mount Lhotse and Mount Pumori. You’ll also see the colored tents of Everest Base Camp dotted under the Khumbu Icefall.
The mountain that everyone wants to say they’ve seen. Simply having looked at the mother once is enough to tick a huge box on anybody’s bucket list.
Soaring above the Himalayan landscape, Mount Everest’s peak sits at 8848M. From Kala Patthar, you’ll have views of the summit and the entire south face, which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay famously summited on May 29th 1953.
However, as strange as it is, Mount Everest doesn’t look like the tallest mountain in the region even from the top of the Kala Patthar summit. This is due to Everest being located much further away than the other giants.
Nuptse is another incredible mountain located only two kilometers from Mount Everest. She sits at an altitude of 7861M. From the Kala Patthar viewpoint, you’ll see the entire mountain standing proud in front of Mount Everest.
Trekkers have a love-hate relationship with this incredible mountain. For one, it’s a truly magnificent peak, but on the other, it completely blocks Mount Everest from Everest Base Camp!
Mount Changtse means the “North Peak” in Tibetan. The peak is 7583 M and is located just north of Mount Everest, in Tibet.
Even though Changtse is phyiscally connected to Mount Everest via the North col, The mountain is not climbed as often as other sub 8000M climbing peaks due to the administrative difficulty of climbing in Chinese Tibet.
Mount Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world, sitting at an altitude of 8516 M. It’s a truly incredible peak and a much harder summit than Mount Everest. It’s part of the Mount Everest massif, connected via the South col.
Similarly to Changtse, it also has a Tibetan name indicating its location relative to Mount Everest. The translation is “South Peak”.
The Tibetan and Nepali border is drawn using its peak as a reference, with the summit bordering both countries.
Although not the tallest mountain viewable from the Kala Patthar trek and summit, Mount Pumori might be the most spectacular. While it only sits at 7161M, it certainly looks taller than the rest, due to it’s very close proximity to the Kala Patthar summit.
In fact, if you read the sections earlier, the Kala Patthar trek forms part of the Mount Pumori ascents. Pumori can be translated into two words in English. “Pumo” means small girl or daughter, and “ri” means mountain. Therefore Pumori can be translated as The Mountain Daughter.
What’s the Best Time for Trekking in the Everest Region?
What’s the best time to attempt the Three Passes or Everest Base Camp Treks? Both treks can be completed at any time of the year. However, it is better to trek in the recommended trekkings seasons for better weather and for better chances of clearing the passes.
March to May
From March to May, the Khumbu region enjoys Spring climates. This is the most popular season for trekking and expedition climbing. There is little rain during this time, the skies are clearer and the days are warmer. You’ll also be able to see blooming plants and lush rhododendron forests in the lower altitudes.
For the Kala Patthar trek, this is the best season as you’ll have a higher chance of getting unobstructed views of Everest.
September to November
Another popular season for trekking in the Khumbu and Everest regions is just after the monsoon in September to November. During this period, the clouds are clearing and there the weather is less hot. The landscapes at lower altitudes are also much greener and the weather is typically devoid of storms.
However, during the night it can be a little colder than in Spring trekking season, so be prepared by bringing an extra thick sleeping bag.
Kala Patthar Viewpoint – Sunrise Timelapse
Here’s a timelapse taken from the top of Kala Patthar, showing all of the mountain peaks and the clouds breezing past the Himalayan gods.
Three Passes: Independent Trekking Guide Ebook
Since internet connectivity is limited in the Khumbu, I’ve written a comprehensive trekking guide to the Three Passes which you can download as an eBook for use on your mobile, tablet, or e-reader.
I’ve currently got this eBook listed on Amazon at a discounted price of less than $6!
Photos from the Kala Patthar Trek and Summit
Before you head up, check out some of these photos of the Kala Patthar trek and summit to inspire your early wakeup in the cold!
More Himalayan Trekking Guides
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.
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