Imja Tse, Pokalde, Kongma TseKhumbu Three Peaks
Khumbu Three Peaks - Pokalde, Kongma Tse and Island Peak
A superb opportunity to enter the world of climbing in the high Himalaya. The trip includes a trek up the Khumbu valley with three mountain ascents of increasing altitude - Pokalde 5806m, Kongma Tse 5820m and Island Peak at 6189m.
The gradual ascent of the Khumbu valley and Chukhung Ri (5550m) and then the peaks of Kongma Tse (also known as Mehra) and Pokalde allows for excellent acclimatisation which are each lovely objectives of their own with breathtaking views. They are situated right below the giant Lhotse/Nuptse wall, with beautiful views of Ama Dablam. There is a beautiful campsite next to a high lake and in the morning you can climb Pokalde and take in almost the whole Khumbu region with the huge fork in the valley below you. One fork heads up to Everest, the other goes up towards Island Peak.
After these two peaks, the route descends back to the village of Chukkung and then a hike up to Island Peak base camp and a climb of this famous 6000er which was used by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing back in 1953 as their training peak. In fact the route you climb is exactly the same as what they did. Island Peak is technically more demanding than the other two but you will be well acclimatised and mountain fit.
During the trip, you will learn many valuable skills in safe travel at high altitude, mountaineering techniques, glacier travel, scrambling and mixed snow and ice terrain. This is an ideal stepping stone for experienced hill walkers or low altitude mountaineers toward peaks in the greater ranges.
Imja Tse, as it is known to Nepalese, not only provides an enjoyable climb but again provides some of the most spectacular scenery of the 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.
- You will get to travel with local guides who not only lead trekking groups but are experienced in high altitude expeditions and even Everest climbs.
- Our trips directly support the local economy.
- We employ full time staff, offering job security and good benefits, and we are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- We follow the IPPG five guidelines on porter safety. Porters' health and welfare is constantly monitored by local and UK trekking group leaders. Through Moving Mountains we consistently work to improve conditions for porters.
- All the staff in our UK office have been to Nepal and we are qualified mountain professionals so you can chat to people who understand what it's like to go up for the first time, before you go.
- Preparation information and support is available to help you plan.
- We advise you to read our advice on altitude health and acclimatising safely.
Khumbu Three Peaks - 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. 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.
The ascents to Kongma Tse and Pokalde are also steep and tiring at altitude but non-technical. Kongma tse is quite easy and has great views looking down onto the Khumbu glacier, while Pokalde is more rocky and has quite a small summit requiring some hands-on scrambling to the top. It is definitely quite precarious and steep, but the rock is good.
The campsite near the lake below is absolutely beautiful and the views of Ama Dablam from Pokalde are stunning, not to speak of the Lhotse Nuptse south wall which dominates the view on one side. From the top of Pokalde you can see all the way down the Khumbu valley and the fork where it splits right below you, and your walking route almost down as far as Namche Bazaar. It's probably one of the best all round views in the upper Khumbu.
Once on Island Peak there will be steep scrambling and trekking then climbing steep snow slopes and a narrow airy ridge to finish. You will need to use crampons and a walking axe. You will need to have experience of using the necessary equipment such as jumars, harnesses and descenders, but you will also need to be competent at walking safely on a man line, clipping onto a fixed line and abseiling on a single line (without a top rope).
The main headwall climbs at around 38 degrees which will feel quite steep and strenuous at that altitude. We will fix a line here for you to clip in to for protection. The summit ridge can feel fairly exposed and you will need to compose yourself and walk carefully and deliberately. Island Peak is a great end to a highly challenging and enjoyable mountain expedition.
Accommodation will mostly 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, which are pitched close by the lodge and eating is done indoors.
At Pokalde/Kongma Tse high camp we will be camping and at Island Peak base camp we will do the same. We will camp in small domed mountain tents usually sleeping two persons per tent. The tents are large enough to live in comfortably as long as you are fairly organised with your belongings and work as a team with your tent-mate. Very quickly you will have got some wake-up and bed-time routines sorted and will enjoy the feeling and camaraderie of being separated from the mountain by only a sheet of nylon.
The porters will carry your main bag up to a maximum weight of 15 to 18 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.
Experience and training
The trek and climbs are not a forced march and the pace is always slow. Previous basic mountaineering experience will be of particular benefit on this trip, especially using protection equipment and crampons safely. Knowing how to use a walking axe properly, scrambling confidently and efficiently, and knowing how to maximise your energy over multiple days is going to be a big advantage too.
We recommend that you embark on a good fitness programme at least 6 weeks prior to your trip, and one that builds up general stamina and leg muscle groups in the thighs and calves. 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- 8 kilos in your day sack so this is a good weight to work with.
If you are going to be using the gym then use 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 body pump, Pilates and aerobic are all excellent preparation for a trip like this, especially those which work on core strength, balance and stability.
We have an operations manager in Kathmandu who 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 also the main link between you and the UK office. He will talk to the Sherpa guides regularly on the trip when signal is available and he can make arrangements while you are on trek.
You also have continued support from the main office in the UK. In the Khumbu region there is an opportunity to communicate since most lodges now have satellite phones and there is good mobile phone coverage in large parts of the Khumbu valley. We will always try our best to assist with any situation and of course we will provide you with all the advice and support you need prior to this trip.
Khumbu Three Peaks itinerary
|1||1400m||Arrive into Kathmandu. You will be met by our staff at the airport and transfered to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time you can relax or indulge in some sight-seeing around Kathmandu.|
|2||1400m||Rest day and acclimatisation to jetlag, sightseeing plus trek briefing.|
|3||2460m||45min flight 2hrs walking||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||6hrs||Uphill to Namche Bazaar which is the Sherpa â€˜capitalâ€™ 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.|
|5||3440m||This is an acclimtisation 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. Namche is the major trading centre of the Khumbu, with Tibetans crossing the high Nangpa La Pass to reach the Saturday market. Nowadays there are also many equipment shops, internet, bank, post office, cafes, bars, lodges and hire shops. Rest here for a day and take the chance to visit the Everest Museum.|
|6||3850m||6hrs||Walk to Deboche which is near the famous Thyangboche Monastery. The path out of Namche is initially steep and then opens out into a high valley, passing through villages like Pangboche before negotiating two steep hills. After this it is a short walk to the beautiful rhododendron glade where you will find the lodge.|
|7||4252m||5hrs||A gradual gradient up to Dingboche. The path skirts 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 is good farming land.|
|8||4252m||This is another rest and acclimatisation day. In the neighbouring village of Pheriche it is important to visit the Himalayan Rescue Association to listen to the daily lecture on high altitude health, and get a check from the medical staff if required.|
|9||4730m||4hrs||Today we have a relatively easy day as we continue on up the Imja valley on easy ground to the village of Chhukhung (4730m) Island peak, true to its name, raers up ahead of us isolated between the tangle of glaciers all making their way into the Imja valley.|
|10||5550m||5hrs||Today we will set off early to climb up the nearby peak of Chhukhung Ri, 5550m. It is a staightforward walk under foot but the increase in altitude will soon start to tell, we will pack very light with just the safe minimum of layers and water. It will be a hard won view but from the top we will be able to look down to the four different glaciers that all approach our start at Chukhung. To our north we will also see the the giant south face of Nuptse. After a few photos we will head back down to Chukkhung for a well deserved rest.|
|11||5400m||5hrs||We start to make our ascent of Pokalde/ Kongma Tse this morning. First we walk a little way back down the Imja valley before turning north up the gulley of the Niyang Khola. It will be a long ascent but soon we will reach the small plateau where we will make our high camp. The plateau is enclosed on three sides by the peaks above and has a few small lakes fed by a small glacier, it is a great little spot for a camp.|
|12||5806m||3hrs||Today we will push on up to the summit of Pokalde, 5806m. We first climb a short way up to the Kongma La where we will be able to peer down the steep gulley to the Khumbu glacier. We then follow the southern ridgeline up, then along to the summit. After enjoying the spectacular views we retrace our steps back down to the Kongma La and to our camp. We should have plenty of the day left to enjoy our surroundings and maybe explore the plateau a little.|
|13||5820m||5hrs||For our second summit day we first cross the bowl where we are camping and climb on up around the Kongma Glacier and along a short rocky ridge to the summit of Kongma Tse (5820m). Again the 360 degree panorama via Nuptse to the NE, Pumori to the NW and Ama Dablam to the S will warrant some time spent enjoying it before we drop back down to our camp for a rest.|
|14||5400m||5hrs||We will break camp and set off back down the path of the Niyang Khola in its southerly descent to the village of Bibre (4570m). From here we turn to the East for a slow walk along the Imja Khola with Island Peak on the horizon ahead of us, to Chhukhung (4730m).|
|15||5087m||3hrs||Trek to Island Peak Base Camp (Pareshaya Gyab), a small area in a narrow valley alongside the lateral moraine of the Imja Khola lake. We will have a refresher/ training on the use of fixed lines and personal movement on ice and plan our clothing and equipment for our ascent.|
|16||6189m||6-9hrs||An early start for our climb to the summit of Island Peak (Imja Tse 6189m) via the normal South East route. The route includes an initial scramble up 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 is narrow and can feel rather airy. After a short time on the summit we return, by the same route, to base camp.|
|17||Spare summit day in case of poor weather or illness|
|18||4730m||3hrs||Trek back down to Chhukhung for the luxury of a bed for the night.|
|19||3820m||5hrs||Trek to Deboche.|
|20||3440m||Trek to namche Bazaar|
|21||2460m||Trek to Lukla|
|22||1400m||Fly to Kathmandu|
|23||International flight home|
Khumbu Three Peaks cost £2495.00
- Airport transfers
- Internal flight return from Lukla
- Accommodation in lodges/tea houses during trek
- Accommodation in tents on the climbs
- Three meals per day in the mountains, and hot drinks (e.g tea, coffee, juices)
- Sagamartha National Park Fees
- Climbing permits for Pokalde, Kongma Tse and Island Peak
- Sherpa climbing guides (English speaking, trained in first aid)
- Porters (1 per member, carries about 15kgs)
- Extra porters for group equipment (tents, fresh food, etc for climbs)
- Staff food, insurance and equipment
- Group climbing gear, eg. ropes, ice screws
- International flight to Kathmandu
- Accommodation in Kathmandu - we can book this for you. See the Extras tab and also Click here for details
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu
- Personal costs like drinks, laundry, hot showers, bottled water (~£100)
- Personal travel insurance
- Personal climbing equipment and clothing
- Any upgrades or change to helicopter for internal transport up to the mountains in the event of the flight being delayed by bad weather.
Payments and costs
A minimum deposit of £100.00 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full six weeks prior to your departure. Interim payments are flexible but we do ask that 50% of the trip fee is paid six months prior to departure.
Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer a quality service and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive that we 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 employ full time professional staff and a porter for each member. We do not operate kitties and we use an good hotels or our own guuesthouse in Kathmandu.
We have our own licensed company in Kathmandu, Adventure Alternative Nepal, and full time staff to operate all our treks, climbs and tours.
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.
Have a read of our information page about getting the right travel insurance.
Flight delays in Lukla
The mountain flight in and out of Lukla which is where most treks begin and end in the Khumbu (Everest) region can be delayed due to bad weather. Normally it is for about 24 hours but it can be longer. We recommend you allow some time in Kathmandu after the specified day of the internal flight just in case. There is more information about Himalayan flight delays.
Some people choose to cancel the internal flight and book a helicopter which can fly below the cloud level and is not so determined by the weather. This is possible but there are no fixed prices for a seat on the helicopter. There are now around 12 helicopter companies operating and we can check them all for you. For a one way place to Lukla can cost around $500.00. The cancelled portion of the flight can be refunded and used to offset this figure, but the refund is only around $170.00 for a one way sector, so there would be balance to pay. Normally people use their credit card to cover off this additional expenditure.
Unfortunately there is nothing we can do if the flight is delayed. Sometimes you can end up waiting in the airport from early hours to get the 'green light' to go, only to find yourself back in the hotel by mid morning. People do get very frustrated because it can impact on the trekking itinerary. A helicopter is one option, or else to wait until the weather improves. However, if it does not then very quickly a queue of people at either end can build up, and it is always hard to get priority for when the weather clears. The airline companies just put as many planes on as possible to clear the backlog.
We try to assist as best we can, but it's important to accept that the route has this potential delay and also that it's advisable to book the international flight home a little later in case the delay affects your return ticket.
Khumbu Three Peaks kit list
- Large duffle bag or rucksack & liner
- 45 Ltr day pack
- Stuff sacks, waterproof, various sizes
- Expedition Jacket, primaloft or down
- Waterproof jacket and trousers, goretex or equivalent (softshell)
- Trekking trousers and shorts, Tshirts, shirts
- Fleece or woollen tops
- Base layer tops and bottoms
- Thin socks and thick socks
- Warm hat, buff/balaclava, sunhat
- Liner gloves, warm gloves, mitts
- Sunglasses Cat 3 UV polaroid
- Mountaineering boots graded B1 or B2 to accommodate crampons
- Trekking boots and hut shoes
- 4 season sleeping bag (comfort temperature -20C) and compression sack
- Thermarest or thick foam sleeping mat for camping only
- Walking poles
- Head torch & spare batteries
- 2x 1 litre drinks bottles and covers
- Pee bottle
- 12 point crampons
- Mountaineering harness
- Walking axe & leash
- Climbing slings 2 x 120cm
- Screwgate karabiners x 2
- Ascender (jumar)
- Prussic loop
- Wash Kit and first aid, towel
Items available for rent from Adventure Alternative (pick up in Nepal)
Descender, ascender, karabiners and slings
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. 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.
Personal first aid kit contents
Water Purification Tablets
Personal Medication as required:
eg. Anti-Malarials, Asthma Inhalers, Insulin, Epi-Pen etc
Prochlorperazine tablets (for sickness/nausea)
Ciprofloxacin tablets (general antibiotic; prescription required)
Acetazolamide tablets also known as Diamox (altitude prophylactic; prescription required)
Note: you must check with your GP for your personal suitability to all medicines and their possible side effects and interactions. Please inform us of the details of all regular medication that you intend to use though the course of your trip and any relevant allergies and medical history related to them. You also need to check the requirements and regulations of the airline and all countries visited in relation to medications. For example; laws governing transport of some pain control medication and the need keep insulin at a suitable temperature, ie not in the cargo hold.
You can book your Adventure Alternative holiday for as little as £100.00 and pay the balance in as many instalments as you like. Choose a scheduled date or contact us for private dates, a bespoke itinerary or more trip details.
- Duration 18 days
- Numbers 4-8
- Altitude 6189m
- Comfort Lodges and tents