EBC Day 12 – Kalapattar

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The day before had been the first day of the entire trip where I would actually have considered myself to have been exhausted. Perhaps that is why my dreams at that point were so vivid.. or maybe it was just the altitude? The dream that I had that night was strange and very muddled, yet was somehow very clear. Some researchers think that the decreased oxygen levels at altitude somehow affect the recollection of dreams, whilst others think that the shorter sleep cycles make us more likely to wake up during the REM phase. Whatever the reason was, the dream was about time, and I recall watching myself talk to myself about time, as well as discuss the effects and consequences of it. It was also very cold that night, so cold that I had to put off going outside to the outhouse, as anywhere outside my sleeping bag was simply freezing. Fortunately, I did not have to hold it for very long for I was up by 04:00, fresh and ready to tackle the highlight of the EBC trip: Kalapattar (elevation : 5643m)!

It turned out that there were a few others who were awake who had had the same idea, so I joined up with another hiker called Jasni, accompanied by his guide Binod, as we made our way out of the lodge. It was completely pitch black and the only things that could be seen were whatever that fell within the cone of our headlight beams. The magnificently clear winter skies ensured that the stars were also out in their blazing glory, the ancient astrological beings suspended up above us watching as we plodded along the dry lakebed, stumbling about in the darkness.

The trail began gently enough with an inclination of around 30 degrees, but it became steeper and steeper as it switch-backed up the hill, closing in to close to 50 degrees or so later on. Jasni's pace had slowed dramatically as we hit the steeper sections, so rather than slowing down (and cooling down) too, I decided to continue on alone. He was safe with his guide afterall. My Suunto Ambit was clipped to the outside of my jacket at that point so that the warmth of my body would not interfere with the temperature readings, and the display showed that it was only -10 degrees. There was a brisk wind in the air then and its windchill effect made it feel so much colder. I realised that I had also made a silly mistake, having decided to wear just light cross-trainers since the entire walk would only take two hours or so. But as the wind picked up as I made my way forward, I realised that not only was my face numb, but that my toes were getting quite numb too. Fortunately I was fairly close by then, so I dashed up to the prayer flag-festooned summit as quickly as I could, making it just in time for some sunrise shots. I realised then that this would be the highest point of the entire trip as the high-altitude passes that lay in store for me over the next few days would not surpass an elevation of (5500m).

The magnificent view from Kalapattar (hover over the image to see the labels)

Close-up of Mount Everest (elevation : 8848m) and Nuptse (elevation : 7861m) (hover over the image to see the labels)

As the sky began to lighten and the tips of the mountains began to glow, more and more hikers began to arrive, so I decided to turn back around and make my way back down to the lodge. The entire hike took me 2 hours and 40 minutes.

I took my time at the lodge before setting off for Dzongla (elevation : 4830m), and decided to order cheese egg fried rice (NPR490, MYR18) with two mugs of lemon tea (NPR160, MYR6) for brunch first.

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Next (Day 12) : Gorak Shep to Dzongla
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Chola Tsho Lake

I made great time as I descended south back down the valley, passing Lobouche (elevation : 4940m) in only an hour and a half, and reaching the base of Awi Peak (elevation : 5245m) in three hours. This point was a major crossroads of valleys and glaciers: behind me to the north was the magnificent Khumbu glacier that lead up to Everest; the valley that perfectly framed regal Ama Dablam (elevation : 6812m) that leads south-east to Dingboche (elevation : 4530m) on my left; just in front of me was the Chola Glacier that poured out of Taboche (elevation : 6542m) and the east shoulder of Cholatse (elevation : 6501m), both impressive mountains that are connected by a long ridge; and to my right was where I had to go, the climb north-west up the valley towards the small village of Dzongla (elevation : 4830m) and the Cho La high-altitude pass just beyond.

Towards Dingboche after Kalapattar

Looking south-east towards Dingboche (elevation : 4530m) and Ama Dablam (elevation : 6812m)

The trail that lead up to this point started off gently after the crossroads to Dingboche, and traversed the side of the hill with the valley on the left, before curving around the base of Awi Peak. This was the first time that I felt completely alone. I was now free from the hiker conveyor belt that is the EBC trail, and had nothing but fresh crisp air and glorious mountain views completely surrounding me. The temperatures seemed to fluctuate a lot too as the clouds intermittently blocked the sun. Earlier that morning temperatures were around -10° Celsius, when the sun was out the temperature shot up to 10°C and dropped back down to 0°C each time it was blocked by cloud cover.

The terrain seemed to get a little trickier after a while and the temperature started to fall even more. Down below me to my left lay the periglacial lake of Chola Tsho (elevation : 4550 m) [ 'cho' or 'tsho' meaning lake, 'la' meaning pass; so ' Chola Tsho Lake' literally meaning 'Lake Pass Lake Lake'], its eastern shore dammed up by ice from the Chola glacier and its lateral moraines.

Chola Tsho Lake after Kalapattar

Taboche (elevation : 6542m) on the left and Cholatse (elevation : 6501m) on the right, with Chola Tsho Lake (elevation : 4550 m) nestled below

After uncountable hills I finally saw what looked like a camp in the far distance, thin tendrils of smoke from the tea houses making their way slowly up into the air. The first tea house that I came upon was already full of hikers, but there were several rooms available in the second tea house. I secured a simple but cold common room with a double bed for NPR200, MYR7. I made my way to the common dining room after that to order some food and drinks ( NPR650, MYR24), and then relaxed for a while, just reading by myself. The other hikers were all huddled infront of the yak dung heater in the centre of the room, and most of them seemed to be elderly Japanese men. I observed one of them taking a good 5 minutes or so trying to untangle himself from his earphone cable, and found myself wondering how in the world he was going to manage the Cho La Pass tomorrow!

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End of Day 12 Expenditure (RM)

Transportation : 0

Entrance Fees/Visa : 0

Gear : 0

Food : 48

Maps : 0

Medication : 0

Misc : 0

Internet/Charging : 0

Accommodation : 7



: 2266

: 339

: 446

: 545

: 24

: 14

: 28

: 53

: 125

: 3840

Next (Day 13) : Cho La Pass
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