It was so cold. Under every laboured breath, I took a weary step. My body had finally had enough, and half way up Kala Patthar, my legs gave up on me. I sat down on a rock and started to cry.
It was my 30th birthday and I had paid to do this.
The day before, we trekked for eight hours to Everest Base Camp (EBC). My group and I started climbing Kala Patthar – which means black rock in Nepali – at 5.15am from the last village before EBC – Gorak Shep. We wanted to catch the sunrise over Everest and the Himalayan range.
It was always going to be a slow ascent. Every 10 steps, I needed a rest. At some 5164m, the air was thin and it was -15C. When I stopped, my muscles cooled down. Starting each walk became more painful than the last. With my head down, I clung onto my walking poles and dragged myself up the rocky path.
My guide, Isuri bounded over to me. “Are you ok?”
I tearfully looked up at him. “It’s so hard!” I was exhausted, hungry and tired.
“Only half way to go.”
“Only half way!” I cried. I knew the first half was the ‘easy’ bit. But there was no way that I would be able to get to the top for the sunrise. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to be only 6km from the summit of Everest – from the roof of the world. I dried my tears and got up from my rock. If anything, it was going to be my mission to get to the top – no matter how much my thighs were screaming for me to stop.
In total, it took me two and a half hours to summit Kala Patthar and join the rest of my group. I was rewarded with the glorious sight of the sun peeping behind Lhotse, the mountain next to Everest. Layered up with thermals and our down jackets, we basked in the morning heat, before heading down for breakfast.
Although we had lost our acclimatisation days thanks to the bad weather ,we were lucky to hike to EBC and Kala Patthar – the viewing ‘platform’ for Everest without getting too sick. When I went, EBC was just a collection of rocks on the Khumbu Glacier. During the climbing season it’s busy with tents and those wishing to scale the highest mountain above sea level. But we had EBC all to ourselves and the sun was shining! It was an epic way to start my 30’s.