Island Peak (Imja Tse), Nepal - Nepal
Island Peak (6189m), also known as Imja Tse, stands as a spectacular peak amid the giants of the Himalaya. If you had always dreamed of climbing to a Himalayan summit but had thought of it as the preserve of the elite few then this mountain may answer your wishes. Although no Himalayan peak should be underestimated, Island Peak has the potential to offer the fit and experienced hill walker a window into the world of mountaineering in the greater ranges. After climbing the ice headwall and traversing the sharp summit ridge, standing on the summit will earn you no less than the thrill of Himalayan mountaineering as you take in the 360 degree panorama of many of the highest mountains in the world. This is a wonderful trek initially to Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar to acclimatise and then an ascent of Imja Tse.
Imja Tse, as it is known to Nepalese, not only provides an enjoyable climb but also provides some of the most spectacular scenery of Himalayas in the Khumbu region. Seen from the summit, the giant peaks of Nuptse (7,879m), Lhotse (8,501m), Lhotse Middle Peak (8,410m) and Lhotse Shar (8,383m) make a semi circle to the north. The views of Makalu (8475m) in the east, Baruntse and Ama Dablam in the south add more charm for climbing Island Peak.
From Dingboche the mountain is clearly seen as a pyramid of ice and rock. It was named by Eric Shipton because of its resemblance to an island in a sea of ice. The mountain itself is the extension of the South Ridge of Lhotse Shar separated by a col. The ridge rising to the south from this point leads to the summit of Island Peak.
The route follows the Chukkung Valley to Base Camp, from which the summit is a challenging 6 to 9 hour climb depending on conditions. The route includes rocky paths followed by snow and ice, a 300 metre headwall which is fixed with a rope to clip onto, and an exposed snowy summit ridge about 300 metres long which can be narrow and precipitous.
We use our own Sherpa staff who are employed by Adventure Alternative Nepal, and have had many years experience guiding clients on the mountains in the Khumbu region. Our head guides are Pasang Tendi Sherpa and Lopsang Sherpa, and both have climbed Island Peak many times.
Our head cook is Wongdi Sherpa, and we also employ a number of trekking guides and porters from the villages of Bupsa and Bumburi (where Moving Mountains carries out it's projects). This represents a strict employment policy in the company to not employ people on a trip-by-trip basis, and to provide long term training and development to full time staff, as well as investment in the community through the charity.
Dates and Itinerary
The start dates refer to the arrival date in Kathmandu and the end date refers to the earliest you can book for your return flight home. When departing from Europe allow for an overnight flight to Kathmandu, but on the return it is possible to depart in the morning and arrive on the same day.
Private trips are welcomed if the scheduled dates do not fit, although we do require a minimum of three people in any team. We have our own office and guesthouse ready and waiting for any dates you may prefer.
|19th October - 9th November|
|1||1400m||Arrive Kathmandu. AA Guesthouse or local hotel.|
|2||1400m||Rest day and briefing in Kathmandu.|
|3||2460m||4 hrs||Flight to Lukla, walk downhill to Phakding or Jorsale along the edge of the Dudh Kosi River. Easy, busy path, surrounded by forest.|
|4||3440m||6 hours||Uphill to Namche Bazaar which is the Sherpa ‘capital’ in the heart of the Khumbu region. Initially follow the valley to Monjo where you enter the National Park, then cross the river a few times and start a long unrelenting path uphill, with one spectacular bridge spanning a deep gorge. Leave the coniferous forest behind, and arrive at a huge natural amphitheatre with the houses spread around the sides. Nowadays there are also many equipment shops, internet, bank, post office, cafes, bars, lodges and hire shops here.|
|5||3440m||This is an acclimatisation day which you can rest or enjoy the sights and sounds of Namche. You can also go for radial walks to the Sherpa museum and other local places of interest.|
|6||3850m||6 hours||Walk to Deboche which is near the famous Thyangboche Monastery. The path out of Namche follows the side of a high valley, passing through villages like Pangboche before negotiating a steep hill. After this it is a short walk to the beautiful rhododendron glade where you will find the lodge.|
|7||4252m||5 hours||A gradual gradient up to Dingboche. The path continues along the side of the valley with the river far below on your right and passing beneath the spectacular Ama Dablam. The village sits on the confluence of two valleys and has spectacular views. From here you have views of Island Peak up the Chukkung Valley.|
|8||4252m||This is another rest and acclimatisation day. You can visit the Himalayan Rescue Association to listen to the daily lecture on high altitude health, and get a check from the medical staff. Option also to visit the ridge above the village for acclimatisation.|
|9||4920m||5 hrs||Trek up the high valley to Lobuche which is alongside the huge Khumbu Glacier. You can now easily feel the effects of the thin air as the hike takes us up to the Thukla Hills where there are many stupas erected in memory of Sherpas who have died on expeditions. Few plants live up here and it will be much colder in the evenings. It is important to walk slowly and listen to your body. Fatigue from lack of oxygen to your muscles is common, but some people may feel nauseous and suffer from headaches. Drink lots of liquid and keep warm, give your body maximum opportunity to recover.|
|10||5200||4 hours||Hike on the glacial moraine to the final settlement of Gorak Shep. The views here are spectacular; Nuptse dominates the other side of the valley, behind which the black triangular peak of Everest is just visible. The giant wall of ice ahead is the border with Tibet. Gorak Shep is the last outpost, a small collection of huts just below a hill called Kala Patthar which is your final destination and traditionally the finest viewing point for Everest itself.|
|11||5360m||6 hours||Trek to Everest Base Camp along the lateral moraine and finally on the glacier itself. Sometimes this route is impassable. Arriving at the small tented city where climbers congregate to climb the mountain is a surreal experience. There is a network of ‘roads’ between the camps, a bakery, and a chance to have a chat with people. Visit the Himalayan Rescue Association, which does an amazing job of looking after climbers.|
|12||High point 5540m drop to 4920m||2 hrs up to 5540m, 3 hrs back down to 4920m||Early morning climb to the summit of Kala Patthar to see sun rise behind the peak of Everest. The climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, into the Western Cwm and up the Lhotse Face to the South Col is clearly visible, with the SE ridge to the top on the right hand skyline side of the summit block. This is a tough walk in the cold and not to be underestimated. Take warm clothing. Back at the lodge for breakfast and a walk back to Lobuje.|
|13||4252m||3hrs||Return along the trail to Dingboche and overnight|
|14||4730m||Trek from Dingboche to Chukkung and overnight in lodge. You can hire any extra equipment from hire shops here, such as plastic boots. Training in the use of personal climbing equipment.|
|15||5087m||Trek to Island Peak Base Camp, a small area in a narrow valley alongside the lateral moraine of the Imja Khola lake. Camping and start training on the use of fixed lines and personal movement on ice.|
|16||5600m||Climb to Island Peak High Camp and rest and prepare for summit attempt the following day (or Possible summit from basecamp depending on fitness acclimitisation and water availability at High Camp)|
|17||6189m||Spare summit day in case of poor weather or illness|
|18||4410m||Trek to Dingboche|
|19||3440m||Trek to Namche Bazaar|
|20||2460m||Trek to Lukla|
|21||1400m||Fly Lukla to Kathmandu|
|22||International Flight home or onward / additional travel options|
Island Peak (Imja Tse), Nepal cost: £1,595.00
- Airport transfers
- Internal flight to Lukla
- Accommodation in Kathmandu for 3 nights - twin/double rooms
- Accommodation in lodges/tea houses during walk in(twin rooms with beds and mattresses)
- Three meals per day during the walk in, and hot drinks (e.g tea, coffee, juices)
- Sagamartha National Park Fees
- Sherpa guides (English speaking, trained in first aid)
- Porters (1 per member, carries about 15kgs)
- Staff food, insurance and equipment
- Group climbing gear, eg. ropes, ice screws
- International flight to Kathmandu (~£700.00)
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu (~£40)
- Personal costs like drinks, laundry, hot showers, bottled water (~£100)
- Trip Insurance
- Visa ($30 for two weeks)
- Airport departure tax for some tickets (£15 paid in Nepalese rupees)
- Tips (~£30)
- Sightseeing Tours
- Personal climbing equipment and clothing
Cost of Add-Ons and Some Optional Extras
Walking Axe: £50.00
Technical walking Ice Axe for use on the mountain
Spa Hotel: £60.00
Located just outside of Kathmandu is the lovely Spa Resort, Park Village. We can arrange transfers and accommodation at the resort for you. People can then select and 'pay as you go' for the various pamperings and treatments. They also offer classes in yoga and have lovely trail walks in the surrounding hills. This option is all about rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.
Chitwan Jungle Adventure: £399.00
This is a trip for those who would like a bit more excitement rather than pampering. We depart Kathmandu by coach and after a couple of hours driving we meet up with your white water rafting crew who will take you on an adventurous trip down river for many miles until you reach the Chitwan Jungle. We then spend the next four days based in a lovely jungle resort. This quaint home from home is our base for river trips in traditional dug out canoes, jungle walks and the highlight; an elephant back safari, which at the end involves jumping in the river with your elephant to give him or her a wash! After all of the jungle fun and activities we then return to Kathmandu by a short flight.
Everest Flight: £160.00
This is a flight around Mt Everest offering spectacular views of the mountain. This flight leaves daily in the morning and can be undertaken by those who plan to depart Kathmandu for home, on an evening flight following the trek or as an addition to the next two options. The one hour flight takes off from Kathmandu Airport and flies east in a fully pressurised aircraft, where one can see magnificent mountains from a height of around 25,000 feet. A must take tour of the majestic Himalayas. It’s an hour of breathtaking scenic beauty of the Mighty Mountains. It is a sparkling clear journey across the world’s highest peaks, Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga – 3rd highest, Lhoste, Makalu, Cho Oyu, to name just a few including the Tibetan plateau. You enjoy a seemingly endless chain of snow capped peaks as you fly above the clouds, over glaciers and lakes, rivers and gorges from your private individual window. The clear, non tinted windows offer a great opportunity to experience and photograph the aerial views of the Kathmandu valley, the high peaks and the landscapes of Nepal
Moving Mountains Village Trek: £350.00
This is a wonderful 7 days trek extension which starts when you approach Lukla on the way back from Everest. Two days further and off the beaten trail is two villages which our charity had been developing over the last decade. You are welcome to come and see what we've been doing and get involved. This is beautiful trip, like stepping back in time and will introduce to the traditional ways and cultures of the local people.
Not all about money
Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in the porters getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider.
We include professional staff and a porter for each member. We do not operate kitties and we use an excellent hotel in Kathmandu with which we have built up a strong relationship over the years.
We have our own licensed company in Kathmandu, Adventure Alternative Nepal and full time staff to operate all our treks, climbs and tours in Nepal
Travel insurance will need to be purchased by each team member to cover all costs associated with medical, rescue, equipment, cancellations etc. This should be purchased as early as possible to ensure cancellation coverage in case of any issues arising that cause you to cancel your trip.
The policy must be checked for validity in the regions through which we will be travelling and also for trekking/mountaineering to 6189m. Many specialist insurance providers have common peaks named on the policy description so it is worth contacting the company to check which is the appropriate level of cover. You should bring with you a copy of your policy and ensure your tent mate knows where you keep it. It is also worth bringing a photocopy of your passport and to keep it separate to your own documents just in case you lose your passport.
Adventure Alternative is a member of AITO (Association of Independant Tour Operators), which ensures complete protection for your money.
Type of Terrain
The walk in initially follows the main Everest Base Camp trek and is on a well trodden path all the way though this can be rocky and uneven in parts. It is not precipitous and there is no rock climbing or ‘mountaineering’ which requires equipment. It is a walk all the way to Island Peak Basecamp, although some of the hills can be steep and never-ending!
You will meet many people along the way, and also yaks. There is only one rule of the road when meeting an oncoming yak, and that is to always ensure you step to one side, towards the inside of the trail. Poles are useful but not necessary, depending on whether you have problems with knees and if you have a personal preference for using them. Higher up, the open slopes and moraine may give you added reassurance with a pole, but again the path is quite easy to follow
Once on the mountain its self there will be steep scrambling and trekking then steep snow slopes and a ridge top traverse. The main headwall climbs at around 45 degrees which will feel steep and strenuous. We will fix a lind here for you to clip in to for emergency protection. The summit ridge can feel fairly exposed and you will need to compose yourself and walk carefully and deliberately.
Kathmandu is at an approximate altitude of 1400m and the flight to Lukla will take you up to a height of 2866m. Island Peak basecamp is at around 5000m and the summit stands at 6189m. Your gain in altitude will be carefully managed to allow propper acclimitisation. This will aid your comfort, safety and chances of summit success on the mountain.
Accommodation will be in comfortable lodges and tea houses run by Sherpa families, unless people specify a preference for tents. Each lodge has a central communal area with stove, while the bedrooms are unheated with two beds and mattresses and pillows. You will need to bring a sleeping bag (3 season is normally enough), and the lodge will lend you a blanket if you ask.
The lodges generally have showers which are powered by gas and they use ‘drop’ toilets (in Namche Bazaar they are generally flush systems now).
Sometimes we use tents which are two person mountain tents, and we will provide foam mattresses. The tents are pitched close by the lodge and eating is done indoors.
The trek and climb is not a forced march and the pace is always slow, the days generally being shorter than a day hike at home. Previous winter walking and use of basic mountaineering or climbing protection equipment and crampons would be an advantage although not essential as full instruction will be given.
We do recommend that you embark on a good fitness programme at least 6 weeks prior to your trip though, and one that builds up general stamina and specific leg muscle groups. There is nothing like hiking with a rucksack to train for this type of trip, so the best advice is to get out into the hills as often as you can. You are likely to carry about 5 kilos in your day sack so this is a good weight to work with.
If you are going to be using the gym then concentrate on step machines which work on the thigh and calf muscles, and try to build your heart rate up to 50% above resting rate. Any cardiovascular activity is good, but remember that swimming will not train the correct muscle groups so it must be added to other exercises to be effective. Exercise groups like bodypump, Pilates and aerobic are all excellent preparation for a trip like this, especially those which work on core strength, balance and stability.
Adventure Alternative Support
The porters will carry your main bag up to a maximum weight of 15 kgs and cater for all the group needs, including assisting you if you need to go back down the valley. Unless specifically tenting, all accommodation is in lodges or teahouses which are very well equipped, warm and sociable.
Pasang Tendi Sherpa is our operations manager in Kathmandu and Director of Adventure Alternative Nepal. He organises all the staff, equipment, permits and hotel arrangements. You will have his telephone number, or the staff at the hotel desk can call him for you. He is the organiser, translator, problem solver, advisor and the amain link between you and the UK office. He will talk to the Sherpa guides regularly on the mountain and can make arrangements while you are on trek.
You also have continued support from the main office in Northern Ireland. Should a problem arise of significant proportion then you only need to call us. In the Khumbu region there is still an opportunity to communicate since most lodges now have satellite phones.
- Duffle bag or rucksack for your porter to carry (soft, up to about 15 kilos, weatherproof)
- Day sack, about 30 or 40 litres for carrying yourself
- Hiking shoes/boots – lightweight with ankle high protection, good sole that is not too bendy, comfortable and not too heavy.
- Winter walking boots graded B1 or B2 to allow fitting of crampons, see below
- Sandals for walking round the villages or in the lodges
- Sleeping bag – 3 season or 4 season if you get cold easily
- Longjohns and a thermal top if you get cold easily
- Several pairs of trekking socks, midweight wool/synthetic or Smartwool
- Hiking shirts and trousers, T-shirts and a pair of shorts
- A few fleece tops or jumpers for the evenings
- Fleece jacket
- Waterproof or ‘shell’ jacket and bottoms
- Sun hat with wide brim and a warm woolly hat for the cold
- A few pairs of gloves, one thin pair and a thick pair, or mitts
- Wash kit and towel
- Sun cream and lip screen (UV protective), moisturising cream
- A water bottle or Camelback
- Head torch and spare batteries
- Personal first aid kit
- Money belt
- Hiking poles, optional
- Umbrella for both sun and rain, very useful, can be bought on the trail
- Dry bags for damp clothes, dirty clothes and for putting sleeping bag into
Additional Kit Info
Boots for the climb need to be of a type that will allow fitting of crampons. They also need to be warm and fitted well to your feet. There is a huge range of boots available, a lot of which will not be suitable for this climb. For Island Peak you will need boots graded at least B1 for crampon use. If you are planning on doing more mountaineering in the future on higher or colder routes it may be worth investing in B2 hybrid or B3 rigid Plastic boots both of which will also be suitable for Island Peak. Full 8000m triple boots are not needed for this climb but could be used if you already have them.
Please see our 'More Info' page 'Mountain Boot Guide' for more information
If you choose to purchase your own crampons prior to the trip please ensure that you take your boots to the shop and ask a suitably experienced person to check the fit of the crampons with the boot. Some combinations of boot and crampon do not provide a good match and can lead to poorly fitting crampons and consequent problems on the mountain.
Descender, ascender, Karabiners and cow's tail
- All our guides are personally trained by Gavin Bate, Company Director and high altitude climber who has made six expeditions to Mount Everest
- We offer small scale, authentic adventures, which support the local economy.
- We do not contract out our trips, we employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- All the staff in our UK office have been to Nepal so you can chat to people who understand what it’s like to go up for the first time, before you go.
- We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in Nepal in a real way.
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- Financial security guaranteed as we are AITO bonded.