Island Peak

Also known as Imja Tse, Island Peak is a spectacular peak amid the giants of the Himalaya. Tucked away up the Chukkung valley this beautiful mountain does indeed look like an island which is dwarfed on both sides by the stupendous Lhotse Nuptse South Wall to the north and Baruntse to the south. The views from the top of this mountain are truly wonderful, and all the more memorable for a spectacular summit ridge to the top. From there the Himalayas is spread like a great carpet of mountains in front of you. 

If you have dreamed of climbing a 6000 metre Himalayan summit then this famous mountain may answer your wishes. It was actually a training peak used by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing in 1953 and the route they discovered is the same one that is used today. In fact Island Peak is still a popular training peak for clients on Mount Everest. 

Island Peak (12)
Crossing the glacier on the way to the headwall which is 300 metres in height. 

Island Peak climb

The expedition not only provides an enjoyable climb but also provides some of the most spectacular scenery of Himalayas in the Khumbu region. After climbing the 300 metre headwall and ascending the exposed summit ridge, the view from the top brings the thrill of Himalayan mountaineering because of the spectacular 360 degree panorama of many of the highest mountains in the world. 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.

Island Peak (2)
On the final summit ridge with Ama Dablam in the background.

From the village of Dingboche Island Peak 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 and the ridge rising to the south from this point leads to the summit of Island Peak.

The approach route follows the Chukkung Valley to Base Camp, from which the summit is a challenging 9 to 12 hour round trip depending on conditions. The route includes circuitous rocky paths and scrambles to the snow line, followed by a section moving in rope teams across glaciated and crevassed group and a 300 metre headwall to climb to the summit ridge. The headwall is fixed with a rope to clip onto, and an exposed snowy summit ridge about 300 metres long which can be narrow and precipitous. The top itself is quite small with only enough room for maybe four or five people to stand safely. 

climb island peak.jpg

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.

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Itinerary for Island Peak

Days  Summary
1 Arrive in Kathmandu (start date)
2 Rest day in Kathmandu
3-11 Fly to mountain airstrip at Lukla and trek up to Everest Base Camp
12-14 Trek from Everest BC to Island Peak Base Camp
15-16 Summit days for Island Peak
17-19 Trek back down to mountain airstrip at Lukla
20 Fly back to Kathmandu, rest. 
21 Depart Kathmandu (end date)

Flights - on the outward leg it will be necessary to fly the day before Day 1 if you are coming from UK, Ireland or Europe, although on the departure it is possible to arrive back on the same day. 

island peak trekking route map.jpgisland peak trekking route map.jpg Trekking route to Island Peak

Island Peak itinerary in detail

DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
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 paths 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 and Sherpas on expedition. 
12 5540m 2 hrs to 5540m;
5 hrs to 4252m
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 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 trek back to Dingboche (or Lobuje if bad weather/tired).
13 4730m 3 hours Continue along the trail to Chukkung and overnight in lodge. Extra equipment hire is here. 
14 5090m  4 hours Trek to Island Peak Base Camp, a small area in a narrow valley alongside the lateral moraine of the Imja Khola lake. Camping and training on the use of fixed lines and personal movement on ice. 
15 6189m  12 hours Summit day or rest day in case of bad weather. See our other pages for specific information on the summit route and requirements. 
16     Spare summit day or descent to Chukkung or further to Dingboche.
17 4410m   Trek to Dingboche or Deboche.
18 3440m   Trek to Namche Bazaar.
19 2460m   Trek to Lukla.
20 1400m   Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu and the hotel. Rest and recuperation, showers and meals. Note that sometimes this flight can be delayed due to bad weather. We do recommend staying an extra day in Nepal just in case. Otherwise you may want to book your flight home in the afternoon of day 21 just in case your Lukla flight is delayed. 
21     International Flight home. This is the end date of the trip, although additional options remain such as travelling to Chitwan or staying in Kathmandu. 


Island Peak cost £2395.00


  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodation in lodges/tea houses during walk in(twin rooms with beds and mattresses)
  • Three meals per day during the walk in with a hot drink (e.g tea, coffee, juices)
  • Sagamartha National Park Fees
  • Sherpa guides (English speaking, trained in first aid) and often a UK guide (please ring to ask)
  • Porters (carries 15kgs for you)
  • Staff food, insurance and equipment
  • Group climbing gear, e.g. ropes, ice screws
  • Permit for climbing Island Peak

Note: the figure above does include the internal flight to Lukla but we ask that this payment is made separately to Adventure Alternative Nepal. 


  • International flight to Kathmandu 
  • Accommodation in Kathmandu. Please see the Extras tab for options. More information here.
  • Meals and drinks in Kathmandu 
  • Personal costs like drinks, laundry, hot showers, bottled water (~£100)
  • Trip Insurance
  • Visa ($30 for two weeks)
  • Tips (~£50)
  • Sightseeing tours in Kathmandu
  • Personal climbing equipment and clothing

Pricing for Island Peak

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 offer an inclusive package. We don't ask for kitties and we include all of your meals and accommodation on the trip and accommodation. We include a porter for each member and a proper guide:client ratio for the climb. 

We have our own licensed company in Kathmandu called Adventure Alternative Nepal and full time staff to operate all our treks, climbs and tours in Nepal.


A deposit of £250 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid in full 4 weeks prior to your departure. When you book with us you're given your own secure online account which you can access 24/7. Through this account you can edit your booking, add flight, health, insurance and dietary details and also make interim payments. We make payments as flexible as possible and you can choose, if you wish, to pay a bit off your trip fee whenever it suits you.


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.


Fitness for Island Peak

You will enjoy the trip all the more if you do have good fitness and experience, and this is a big mountain expedition at high altitude so do put the time in beforehand to get fit with a pack on your back. During the trek in to Everest Base Camp you will acclimatise and get 'mountain fit', but everything will be more enjoyable if you prepare with some hiking at home. If you are going to the gym or leisure centre then lots of swimming and work on your thighs and calf muscles. 

Being at altitude is tiring as the body works hard to accomplish more, but with less oxygen in the atmosphere. The ability to convert oxygen to energy is important obviously, and being fit helps this process. Good teamwork and a good positive mental attitude is equally as important.

Terrain on Island Peak

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 Base camp, 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.

Once on the mountain itself there will be steep scrambling on quite loose rock to 'crampon point' or the snow line. This is done at night on the ascent and often requires the use of hands to assist. There are some steep drops and the path follows a circuitous route through the scree and bottom rock formations. 

From crampon point the route is on snow and there are numerous crevasses to cross and you will be roped up in groups of three or four on glaciated ground. Some of the crevasses are deep and there will be ladders to negotiate, which are not difficult but do require a lot of care and alertness. The route is normally well marked, and groups only follow one designated 'path' on the glacier because there is a danger of falling into slots or hidden crevasses if you stray too far.

At the base of the headwall you will move onto the fixed lines which need to be checked for their robustness. The anchors are normally strong and every thirty metres or so, but especially in the afternoon they can become loose. The lines themselves are normally polyprop (not kernmantel) and can get icy and slip through jumars. The gradient is around 45 degrees at it's steepest but averages less than that. There are plenty of places to rest for a bit, and the whole headwall of 300 metres normally takes about an hour and a half. Quite often you can find yourself behind other parties, which slows things down.

There are normally up and down lines on the headwall, but people get confused and so it is important to check which line you are using and if it is clear, and to make sure there are not other people pulling on one anchor. Climb without hauling on the jumar, it is a safety aid and hauling back on the rope is generally bad practise. The route nowadays is normally hard ice so your crampons points need to be sharp, but you can also get soft snow with big buckets to negotiate.

Once on the summit ridge, the route is narrow and exposed and often busy with people. There is normally only one fixed line going to the top and only space for a small group of about five on the summit. You will need to negotiate with others on the route. There are a few steps which are more exposed and steeper than others, but the route is not difficult in good weather with little or no wind. Be careful with always clipping the safety karabiner first before moving the jumar over an anchor.

The descent is tiring but extra caution should be given to the initial section of abseil from the summit ridge. For those with experience, it is an easy abseil and plenty of 'shelfs' to move to. Be careful that someone is not clipping onto the down line on the way up! Some people are very unsure about abseiling and can slow things down a lot. Sometimes it is possible to overtake at a suitable platform, but often there is tension as people get frustrated with slow progress.

Once back on the glacier be very careful coming back in sunlight; the snow will not be as hard packed and the ladders may have loosened. Keep the man ropes taut and follow good climbing principles all the way. Keep to the route.

Experience for Island Peak

Previous winter walking and use of basic mountaineering or climbing protection equipment and crampons is necessary. Knowing how to put on crampons and walk safely with them, using a walking axe correctly and tying into a harness and onto a man rope are also important skills to have. Walking safely on a man rope on glaciated ground is all part of the experience, but previous experience (for example on Mont Blanc) is necessary. Our guides will teach you and guide you, and there will be training in the use of the equipment during the trek section of this trip, so make it known to the guide the level of your experience.

On the headwall, it will be necessary to use a jumar and safety karabiner attached to your harness to ascend, and a descender to abseil back down again. This is not the place to abseil for the first time, so please make sure you have gained some training and practise beforehand. The abseil is on a single line and you will be completely self-reliant, it is not possible to top rope this section because it would take too long to set up, unless absolutely necessary of course. 

The crevasses are quite manageable and not too wide, but crossing ladders can be a disconcerting experience. There are handrails attached to snow stakes in the ground, but some people do find it difficult. The best option is to walk across with the crampons placed across the rungs of the ladder, but some people choose to go on hands and knees.

The headwall on Island Peak is not very steep but it looks more daunting from afar and face on. Once on it, you will find there are plenty of places to rest and stand on ledges. It doesn't seem nearly so steep or difficult. Many people opt to 'jug' up the ropes, pulling back on the rope with their jumars and essentially hanging their weight on the line. Sometimes a single line can have several people hanging off it, and this is dangerous. The anchors may have been put in place several days ago, and the rule is never to trust an anchor until you have either put it in yourself or have seen it with your own eyes. So therefore try to climb the route with your crampons points and axe, rather than hanging on the rope.

The summit ridge is quite 'airy' with steep drops off to the sides. Therefore you will need to be able to concentrate and keep your composure. This is not a place for people who suffer from vertigo or don't like precipitous drops. Experience of ridge walking will help and of course a confident attitude which comes from feeling comfortable on your crampons and using your axe. This is not a place to be using this equipment for the first time. At this stage the guides cannot be alongside you, they will be either behind or in front on you on the rope so most of the work is being done by you alone. Knowing how to move your jumar safeyl across an anchor safely is vital. It goes without saying that the rule of always keeping clipped in applies here. 

In terms of training courses, some of the skills for Island Peak are different to what you find on alpine courses. In general the experience you will gain is invaluable of course, especially ropework and moving confidently and safely on glaciated ground. However, fixed lines are uncommon in the Alps so make sure to mention to your training guide that you would like some work on using jumars safely and abseiling on a fixed line without being top roped. 

In summary the trek up to base camp of Island Peak is all relatively easy, staying in lodges and enjoying the walks in the valleys. Once you start up from base camp in the dark on the loose scree and then onto snow, then alpine skills and team skills on man ropes are going to be important.

Kit List

Kit and Equipment list for Island Peak

  • BAGS - Large Rucksack or duffle bag ~80L (for a porter to carry) + medium daypack ~40L (carried by you)
  • SHELL - Top and bottoms to keep off wind/rain
  • INSULATION - Warm layered system to keep you warm, down jacket for summit day, sun hat and warm hat
  • BASE LAYER - Thin layers to wick away sweat and to strip down to when it gets hot
  • FEET - Crampon compatible boots, trekking shoes and base camp shoes
  • HARDWARE - Crampons, walking axe, alpine harness, descender, jumar, 4 screwgate karabiners, helmet, 2 x 120cm slings, poles
  • SLEEPING - 4 to 5 season sleeping bag
  • EATING/DRINKING - Water bottles & favorite snacks for during the day, insulated cup, flask
  • WASHING & MEDICAL - To allow you to wash and manage minor first aid situations
  • ADDITIONAL - Sunglasses, suncream, lipsalve, camera, headtorch


We have a number of items which you can rent for this trip and we will have them supplied to you in Kathmandu.

  • Mountaineering Harness
  • Descender, jumar, Karabiners, slings
  • Crampons
  • Walking Axe

Plastic boots or double mountaineering can be rented from the village in Chukkung.


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.

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.

Why Us

All our Sherpa guides on Island Peak are given guide training in Nepal and have all been on many climbs to high altitude and been given extensive training in managing foreign clients safely and dealing with the expectations of paying clients.

We offer an inclusive package which include all of your meals on the trek and accommodation for the entire itinerary, flight transfers and plenty of time to safely acclimatise, enjoy and explore your surroundings.

The teams we employ are well provisioned and equipped themselves, as we provide climbing equipment, sleeping bags, sunglasses and good boots. We also provide medical insurance for our staff and evacuation cover. 

You can speak directly with Gavin Bate about your proposed climb of Island Peak and have the benefit of somebody who has climbed the mountain many times and who will come to visit a group if necessary and go through the whole expedition from start to finish. In the office you will find friendly and knowledgeable staff who will give you the time to discuss through all your preferences and questions.

Our company is properly insured and financially protected, so that your money is safe and you know you are dealing with a tour operator that is correctly set up to manage and run trips like this.

Map and routes

Island Peak Map

island peak map.jpg

From the village of Chukkung, it is a four hour hike to Island Peak Base Camp on easy ground. The route goes past the famous Imja Tse lake which has recently been drained a bit because of fears that warming due to climate change would cause the lake to break its banks and flood the whole valley.  

Island Peak (15)

The trekking route from Lukla shows the path going past Namche Bazaar and then up to Pheriche and up the Chukkung valley and past the village to the base camp. From the top of Island Peak there are spectacular views of the south wall between Lhotse and Nuptse which actually prevents you from seeing the top of Everest because it is so close, and to the south the Amphu Lapcha Pass that drops into the Barun valley where you can climb Mera Peak. 

Island Peak (10)

Once on the snow above the rocky path to the edge of the glacier the route must be completed in guided rope groups and the final section is a 300 metre headwall leading to the summit ridge which is quite exposed and narrow. This headwall is fixed with ropes so you can use a jumar to ascend and it can be very icy.