Today we walked from Lobuche to Gorak Shep. Located at 5200 metres, this is the last outpost of trekking lodges on the Everest Base Camp trek. From here it is possible to walk to the Everest Base Camp, which we will do tomorrow. The other day hike is to Kala Pattar, which provides a good view of Everest.
We arrived in Gorak Shep before noon, and the weather was crystal clear, so we chose to visit Kala Pattar this afternoon. It was a steady two hour climb to the 5550 metre summit of Kala Pattar. The footing was mostly good, but it is simply difficult to climb in this thin air. Partway to the summit I started to think of the slow climb as an exercise in mindfulness. I focused on my breathing and the slow movement of my feet, allowing them to kiss the earth, in the words of Thich Naht Han. Hypoxic as I was, I felt that the earth carried me towards the summit. I found myself smiling and enjoying the moment, no longer struggling to reach the summit. The spell was only broken when I had to climb through a boulder field near the top.
It was quite pleasant at the summit of Kala Pattar, with stunning views of Everest, the Khumbu glacier, and Nuptse, which steals the show as the most beautiful peak in the area.