Today was the most difficult day of hiking. Alex and I ascended to Kalapathar, this was the highest elevation of our entire trip: 18,600 ft. We started the morning at 3:45am which I was not too happy about. I was excited to get up to Kalapathar peak and see all the large mountains in the area, including Everest. When we woke up Alex looked outside and said the weather was bad, that was a bit of an understatement. The weather sucked! It was snowing outside with full cloud cover. You couldn’t even 75 yards away.
Chhiri, our guide, still said we were heading out at 4:00am. Alex and I started layering up. Not only was there the cold of the night and snow, but the temperature in the entire area has been dropping. Alex had asked if I was wearing double thermals, I told him yes. Later I find out Alex had been wearing the two thickest thermals Icebreaker (company) makes, plus his hiking pants and on top of all that he had his thick rain pants. I on the other hand was only wearing one layer of thermal pants and my hiking pants.
For the top layer, Alex had his heavy thermal top, a fleece and his huge Canada Goose Jacket which is made for arctic temperatures. Once the hike started, I kept hearing an “ahh” in frustration and hear the zipper of a jacket pulling down. I later find out Alex was full on sweating in the middle of a blizzard. I soon see him flapping his coat like a bird to try and circulate cool air to his body. He took off his beanie and gloves to continue to try and cool off! As I look at everyone behind Alex, they are all shivering, trying to continue on through the storm.
Kalapathar is a very rocky mountain (more of a high hill) with now ice (other than the snow falling when we were hiking). It sits right in the middle of several of the tallest peaks of the Himalayas. If you google the mountain you can see some amazing photographs of Everest. With the heavy fog and snow, we couldn’t see anything so we felt as if we climbed the highest peak in the area. Alex and I were the first to reach the top out of all the people summiting (around 30 people). We got some great photos and decided to head back down.
On our way down the weather was getting worse and several of the people coming up asked us how much further? We felt bad having to tell them the bad news that they were only half way up! On our way down some of the weather cleared (only from the base of the mountain) and we had some of the best views of the trip. At that point it was a really breath taking view to see these giant structures covered in ice and snow. That moment made the entire trip worth it.
Once we got back to the tea house we ordered some breakfast and I was happy to take off the wet gear. We packed up our bags and Alex and I headed all the way down to Pheriche, where Eleni currently is staying. The Hotel Eleni has been stay out is a PALACE!!! It is by far the nicest tea house we have been too. They have internet, a sun room, great food and comfy chairs!
Coleman Wipes: down to 1 per coleman shower
Red Pandas Spotted: Eleni’s dreams still shattered