The alarm rang at 3:30am. It was dark, and cold enough that the windows were frosted over. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and stretched out my aching legs. This is how day ten of our Everest adventure began.
The previous day we'd finally made it to Everest Base Camp, a journey that lasted over nine hours from Lobuche. The day was long and hard but so well rewarded with such a memorable feeling - arriving at the camp with your friends to hugs, kisses and hi-fives, and lots of photos. By the time we got back to our teahouse we were all exhausted and ready for rest, and in the evening we were given a choice; wake up at 3:30am for a cold, hard sunrise trek, or enjoy a nice lie in, the first we'd have had in ten days. Every single person in the group sleepily made it into the lobby for our 4:00am meet time the next day, everyone was ready for the challenge.
The morning that followed turned out to be one of my favourite experiences of this adventure so far. Once our coffee cups were empty, we made our way outside one by one, leaving the warm indoors to a harsh cold wind, and a black sky filled with stars. We've never been out at this time before to see them and we were all in awe. Trailing from the tiny town of Gorak Shep was a bee-line of tiny headlamp lights making their tangled ascent up Kala Patthar, one of the tallest mountains in the Everest Himalayan Range. Everything around us was dark except these tiny lights and the surrounding white glaciers that towered like giants beside us. We began our ascent.
The climb was taking us from around 5100m to 5600m and the sudden increase in altitude was very, very noticeable. A quick climb suddenly became slow, fifteen successive steps suddenly became three. Just a tiny exertion of energy and your body felt like it was sprinting. Three quarters of the way up my friend Lucy and I were ready to settle, give up on the climb and just stop and enjoy the view, but a few of the team who had made it to the summit turned up the noise and encouraged us to keep going. We forced our way up to chants and songs and eventually found ourselves at the feet of our friends, met by big embraces. Then it was our turn to cheer on the rest of the group. They found their way one by one, until we were all at the top.
Once the climbing was finished, the cold hit. Our bags were frosted over and we were all hugging our bodies trying to keep warm as the world around us slowly lit up and came to life. Then, finally, just as we started talking about heading down early, the sun emerged. Rays of light cut through the sky to huge cheers from everyone at the summit. At this moment, you could fully appreciate the panoramic view of the Everest Range that Kala Patthar offered, including the Everest peak itself that never looked so close and so captivating. For me, this was easily one of the most enamouring views I'd ever, ever seen. I couldn't help but put my camera down and just take it all in, not just the views but the moment, the people, the atmosphere amongst us all at the top of that mountain. Electric and unforgattable.