Kala Patthar, meaning “black rock” in Nepali and Hindi, is a notable landmark located on the south ridge of Pumori in the Nepalese Himalayas above Gorakshep.
Although not a proper mountain, the ascent of Kala Patthar is very popular with trekkers in the region of Mount Everest since it provides the most accessible closeup view of Mount Everest.
Due to the structure of the Everest Massif, its high summit is blocked by Mount Nuptse from much of the surrounding region.
The views of Everest, Nuptse, and Changtse are spectacular from Kala Patthar and there are glimpses of the northern flank and summit of Mount Lhotse as well.
View of Mount Everest, Mount Nuptse, & Mount Lhotse
Sunrise on Mount Everest
Note: Kala Patthar is considered the highest altitude most will reach without an Everest climbing permit, which must be obtained in Kathmandu, at the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
So, if you are planning to do the famous Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek, you can trek up until Kala Patthar.
Fun Fact: The world’s highest webcam, Mount Everest webcam, is located here.
How To Climb Kala Patthar
Everest view from Kala Patthar
The ascent of Kala Patthar begins at Gorakshep (5,164 m or 16,942 ft), the original base camp for Mt. Everest.
After a brief dip to an ancient lake bed (which now contains a small lake and a helipad), the ascent makes its way up to a series of steep switchbacks before leveling off somewhat as it traverses to the eastern side of the mountain.
Mount Everest from Tibet, Tschomolangma peak
The trail then becomes steep once again until it reaches the wind-swept summit ridge. From there, a 5-to-10 minutes scramble over boulders takes one to the top, which is marked with prayer flags.
Note: There is also a geocaching trackable named Kala Pattar Yeti attached near the summit. Its trackable code is GS9EBG.
Elevation & Hiking
The full ascent usually takes between 1.5 and 2 hours. If the attempt is made starting from Lobuche, an additional two to three hours (one way) is required.
The elevation is commonly listed as 5,545–5,643 m (18,192–18,514 ft). It is possible that since Kala Patthar is merely a minor summit on a ridge leading to Pumori, different people may have measured different summits.
The summit traditionally referred to as Kala Patthar is, however, completely festooned with prayer flags, making it quite readily recognizable.
It is quite clear that the point trekkers climb to is a local maxima on the Pumori ridge, not the summit of Kala Patthar proper.
Clinics are a sparse resource in Khumbu. However, should you require medical attention there are two possibilities:
Kunde Clinic, in Kunde Village (above Namche) has Western-trained doctors and is a surprisingly well-equipped facility – they even have a decompression chamber for those suffering from severe altitude sickness.
On your return journey, you might like to donate your unused medicines to Kunde Clinic, though ensure that they are clearly labeled in English – even the most valuable medicine is useless if there are no instructions on how to use it.
The Himalayan Rescue Association operates a clinic staffed by western physicians in Pheriche. They give a daily lecture on taking care of your health in the Khumbu region, and, for very little money you can check your blood oxygen level and pulse rate.
This is a good place to stop at even if you are not experiencing any health problems. Check out their t-shirts, scarfs and hats, the proceeds of which go towards operating the clinic.
The Healing Center in Namche offers treatments using natural formulas. It is next to the Camp de Base hotel but entered from the path in front of the library.
This clinic provides free treatment for porters and other patients on a low income. In order to continue this service, donations are greatly appreciated.
Along the trail, you will also see small medical stations. These stations generally have very rudimentary facilities and can only realistically offer treatment for very minor ailments, such as cuts and bruises and (non-altitude sickness related) headaches, etc.
Namche also has a dental clinic, on the right side slope of the village when looking up.
Don’t drink the water no matter how pristine it appears. Use iodine tablets as a purifier or purchase boiled water.
Exceptions: Namche and Phortse have clean water supplies that the locals drink directly from the faucet. However, this may not be a good idea for outsiders lacking immunity to local bacteria, but it may be OK for brushing teeth.