Monday, May 19, 2008

EBC: Kalapathar - May 13

This is page 6 of my EBC trek report. Navigate through the overview page.


Kalapathar as its name indicates is a 5545m black, barren mass of rock that provides one of the best views of Everest, Lhotse & Nuptse.

Me en route to Kalapathar summit with Pumori peak in the background. I summited alone, so I had to keep the camera on a rock to take this picture. Taking off the gloves in close to sub-zero temperature to push the tiny self-timer button was not a pleasant experience.

All of us were tired from the long trek the previous day to EBC and also without sleep - the lodge did not have sufficient blankets to provide us and it was too cold to sleep, so we spend a sleepless night shivering in the dark! Twelve of us (out of 23) started off from Gorek Shep at 4 AM (IST) in the morning. Our intent was to reach the summit before the sunrise and view sunrise on Everest peak. It was bitterly cold and progress was slow.

As the sun was ascending quite fast, after around 1/2 hour trekking with the group, I told the guide to stay with the group and proceeded alone to the summit as the trail is supposed to be well marked. I kept a measured pace, even through with each step my lungs were gasping for breath in the rare atmosphere at 18,000 feet (50% of Oxygen level at sea-level). To reach Kalapathar, one has to first climb over two other peaks that seem never ending. I could see that the sun was already up and I paused to capture photographs along the way lest I miss the sunrise pics.

Sunrise on Everest (The black peak behind Nuptse is Everest)

After finally reaching Kalapathar I could see the summit with prayer flags at the top with Pumori in the background. There was not a soul around as far as I could see and I pushed forward to finally reach the base of the boulder heap leading to the summit.

Kalapathar summit is still a long way away (with Pumori in the background)

As I looked back along the path I had come, I saw to my horror that the clouds were moving in and I could no longer see beyond 30 feet. There was no marked trail on the boulders and if I could not get my orientation with respect to the distant mountains, it would be very hard for me to find my trail to get back to Gorak Shep.

Clouds moving in reducing visibility

I was still at least 15 - 20 minutes from the Kalapathar summit, making a quick decision I starting ascending as fast as I could hoping to return back to the trail before the white-out reached the summit. I finally reached the summit at 5:30 AM IST (1.5 hours after I started), after pausing there for a nervous 2 minutes to have a sip of ice cold water and to take couple of photos, I started scrambling back over the boulders to the edge of the marked trail.

Summit of Kalapathar

I reached the trail safely and stared my descent and encountered quite a few foreigners coming up to the summit. I saw our team ascending after around 1/2 hour of descend and told them to stick to the guide since the final path is not well marked. I was not sure if I had reached the proper summit as I had no idea which one the summit was! So I took the photographs and confirmed with the guide on the way down that I had indeed reached the summit.

I made brisk progress on the way down and reached Gorek Shep in 45 minutes (6:15 IST). The only trouble I had on the way back was when I asked a foreigner if I was on the path to Gorek Shep (before I met our team) and he kidded me I was lost and was heading towards EBC!

Out of the 12 of us who made the attempt, 6 of us summited including me, the remaining 5 summiting at around 6:45 AM IST.

The steep climb up from Gorak Shep

The black cloud covered peak is Everest!

Everest West Shoulder, Everest & Nuptse

The clouds moving in reducing visibility to about 30 feet.

Summit with Pumori in the background

The clouds were advancing quite fast!

Some kind of measuring equipment, I could not read the plaque completely as I was worried about getting back.

Prayer flags at the summit


  1. very nice photographs...roshin!!


  2. Amazing pictures. Thanks for making us a part of your out of the world (heavenly) experience

  3. Lovely! great work roshin - you continue to be inspired and inspire.

    Some pictures you posted show great perspectives of both the land you visited and the mountains you scaled.

    Congratulations on this achievement.

  4. Raghu2:33 AM

    Truly spectacular photographs displaying some remarkable artistry with the camera! The story is equally wonderful. Mountains are close to my heart... Keep doing it!