Monday, May 14, 2012

Kala Patthar - 18,200 feet

Before this trip, I had never been higher than 14,900 feet (on my post-bar trip to Peru with Jason and other law school friends).  Sara's altitude P.R. was the top of Telluride Ski Resort at 12,225 feet.  Kala Patthar (5,550 m/18,200 ft.) would be a personal best for both of us.

Beginning the hike to Kala Patthar - it was even steeper than it looks in the picture

Sleeping at high altitudes is really tough.  My resting heart rate is normally around 60 bpm, but trying to sleep at Gorak Shep, it was racing at 90 bpm.  Because the air was so thin, we would wake up throughout the night, hearts racing, trying to catch our breath.  Combine that with more frequent bathroom visits to the squat toilet (a side effect of acclimatization and drinking tons of water), and it made for a long night.  Morning couldn't come soon enough.

Crawling out of our sleeping bags at 4:30 a.m. into 20 °F (-7 °C) temperatures was brutal, especially with such a difficult hike awaiting -- over 380 m/1,250 feet, straight uphill with only half as much oxygen as at sea level.  Kala Patthar is tough, no other way to put it.  But it has the best views of Everest, and it was really special to watch the sun rise above the Himalayas.  We got our best views on the way up, because by the time we got to the top the sun had already risen above Everest making it a bit difficult to see the mountain.

Sara and Kaley taking a break with our guide Bharat
The sun shining behind Everest on our way up

Making it to the top, I felt a great sense of accomplishment at reaching a point higher than any in the U.S. other than Denali.  It was really amazing to be surrounded on all sides by the tallest mountains in the world.  Sara was really happy as well, but she was pretty focused on the steep, slippery trip back down the mountain.

We only spent about 15 minutes at the summit before starting back down.  We needed to make it back in time for a quick breakfast before starting our long hike to Pheriche.  This was the official turn-around point for our trek.  No more climbing farther and higher into the Himalayas.  We were on our way back to Lukla.

This was one tough climb!
At the summit of Kala Patthar!


1 comment:

  1. It looks like you're climbing on the moon! What an accomplishment you guys..just amazing!