A Trek to Kala Pathar: the Mt. Everest Base Camp

“Look, that’s the mighty Everest just in front. It seems a mere arms length away!”- shouted one of my companions, as I turned my eyes to the right to witness the most spectacular sight that has ever beckoned me. It was the ‘crowning moment’ of Mt. Everest, with the sudden burst of rays of the setting sun reflecting on the highest peak in the world- one of the most treasured views for trekkers everywhere.

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Sunset on the Mt. Everest: as taken from my point-and-shoot camera in 2003-scanned copy

This story dates back to 2003, when I was still in my high school. It was a time when my most precious possession was a Kodak KB10 camera borrowed from my uncle, the time when I was in my teens and eagerly awaiting to attain adulthood (Yes! I looked forward to growing older then).

As a part of my school’s golden jubilee celebration, a team of 7 students, accompanied by our teachers and guides, embarked on a journey to conquer the Kala Pathar peak, one of the bases from where the last climb to the mighty Mt. Everest starts. It was our biggest hike till that date, and, in fact, we happened to be on the records for being the youngest people to undertake this journey at that time. As we started wondering what lies before us, we received the first surprise the day before we left for the expedition: a letter of encouragement from none other than The Edmund Hillary. Even today, after 15 long years, each and every word in that letter is safely etched in my memory.

We prepared ourselves for months with the hope of enduring the hardship of the expedition and to fulfill our dream of witnessing the mighty Everest. And what we saw was more than we could ever imagine.

After an adventurous journey across the border between India and Nepal, we reached Kathmandu, from where we boarded the Sita Air Dornier aircraft to Lukla. It was my first plane ride in life, and I was definitely not helped by the fact that we were about to land in one of the most dangerous airports in the world. We began our trek from Lukla (2840 m) and stayed overnight at Phakding (2610 m). The next day, was the toughest of the lot, where we trekked for almost the entire day to reach Namche Bazaar(3440 m). It was a small Himalayan town, with all the amenities one would need to lead a simple life in the hills. Directly in the middle of the Sagarmatha (the Nepalese name of Mt. Everest) National Park, it offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and boasts of one of the highest bakeries in the world, where we happened to celebrate my birthday on the way back.

We got our very first glimpse of Mt. Everest within moments of leaving the town the next day and within a few hours of trekking, we were above the tree level. The barrenness struck our eyes as suddenly as the emergence of the Everest in front of us. From Namche Bazar, we arrived at the beautiful Himalayan village of Tengboche (3867 m), boasting of a grand Monastery surrounded by mighty peaks. It was beauty at its beastly best, and enough for us to forget the toils of the day and engage in a game of Volleyball with the resident monks.

The next day’s trek took us to a place called Lobuche (4910 m), where the only stay available was a mountain shack at the foothill of a mountain and on the bank of the Doodhkoshi river. The next day was the day for which we had planned so much and waited eagerly for months. Around a hour and a half trek from Lobuche took us to Gorakshep (5140 m), the last available accommodation point before Kalapathar. We took ample rest, and started our ascent towards Kalapathar, with the hope that the weather would favor us, and we would be able to witness Everest in its most beautiful avatar.

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Mt. Everest, along with Lhotse and Nuptse Peaks

A few minutes after we started from our lodge in Gorakshep, all of a sudden we got  the closest-possible glimpse of Everest, still awaiting the rays of the setting sun. It was a perfect timing when, almost after an hour and a half, we reached the peak, and the sun rays were in full glow, covering the Himalayan peaks with a blanket of golden color. There we were, witnessing our dreams taking shape in front of our eyes, and in what a grand way.

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So near yet so far: it appears we were standing just below Mt. Everest

My destiny has now bought me not only to a different country, but to a different continent altogether. I have been lucky to set my foot on the Alps mountains ranges and visit different across Europe. However, in hindsight, the inner younger self in me still longs to go back to those days when I was in the Himalayas, to that first plane ride, to the countless people I met during those 15 days of my journey. In my mind, I am still a traveler wandering from the Himalayas to the Alps, and back.

P.S.: All the pictures here are scanned from the hard copy prints I have. Hence, please excuse the quality of the picture.

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14 thoughts on “A Trek to Kala Pathar: the Mt. Everest Base Camp

  1. Flew over the Himalayas last year, returning from Australia to UK. When I was 17 I used to read books such as Seven Years in Tibet and later
    Chris Bonington’s book on climbing Everest and Hamish MacInnes’s observations. I enjoyed seeing your golden Everest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! That might have been a different experience altogether. Even when I was there, I did find helicopter rides taking people to view Everest from the top. I wonder how their experience was. I had a kind of a rendezvous when I went to watch the movie Everest last year. Could recollect exactly the trails we went through in some of the scenes!

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  2. Everest in the golden, setting sun is so beautiful. It almost made me gasp, so it must have been breathtaking in person.

    I love the group photo at the end. It really does look like you are right in front of Everest!

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  3. Awesome! I so wish to go there, don’t know if I ever can…how lucky you are to have done this at such a young age….I have started too late…
    Glad I chanced upon your blog….and the photos are out of the world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your nice words and comments for the photos. Really appreciate it!
      It’s never too late to do anything and you never know what’s in store for you in the future. 🙂
      Who knows, you might be there soon. So, just keep on travelling and keep on penning down your memoirs! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations! Been hiking a lot as well and I could only dream of climbing the basecamps of Mt. Everest! So it’s really good to hear from those who have done it and shares their experience in writing! Loved the photos btw as I shoot mostly with analog cameras!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Trust me, the photos does not justify the beauty that you behold with your eyes.It was really like a dream and you should try it if you get a tiny bit of opportunity.

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    1. Thank you so much and this is such a great news to hear about your partner. I wish him good luck. It is indeed a life-changing experience. Do keep me updated about his stories and pictures when he is back.

      Liked by 1 person

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