Island Peak (6189m), Nepal
Also known as Imja Tse, Island Peak is a spectacular peak amid the giants of the Himalaya.
If you have dreamed of climbing a 6000 metre Himalayan summit then this famous mountain may answer your wishes.It was 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.
Although no Himalayan peak should be underestimated, Island Peak offers the fit and experienced hill walker and aspirant climber a window into the world of mountaineering in the Greater Ranges. After climbing the ice 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.
This trip initially treks to the base camp of Mount Everest and then crosses to the Khumjung valley for the climb of Island Peak.
Island Peak 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.
Itinerary for Island Peak
|1-2||Arrival and preparation in Kathmandu|
|3-11||Fly to mountain airstrip at Lukla and trek up to Everest Base Camp|
|11-15||Trek from Everest BC to Island Peak Base Camp|
|15-17||Climbing period for Island Peak|
|18-20||Trek back down to mountain airstrip at Lukla|
|21-22||Fly back to Kathmandu for international departure*|
*Note, there are sometimes weather delays for the flights to and from Lukla. It is therefore advisable to leave an extra day or more spare in Kathmandu at the end to give more flexibility without missing your international flight departure. We can help you to organize these extra days on request.
Itinerary in detail
|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 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. 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 â€˜roadsâ€™ 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 cost £1945.00
- 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
- Permit for climbing Island Peak
- International flight to Kathmandu
- 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
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 offer an inclusive package. We don't ask for land payments. We include all of your meals on the trek / climb, accommodation for the entire itinerary, flight transfers and a full itinerary allowing plenty of time to safely acclimatise, enjoy, learn and explore your surroundings.
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) and ABTOT, and we provide insurance cover for complete financial protection.
ISLAND PEAK - fitness, terrain, experience
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.
Poles are useful, especially on descent and more so if you have problems with knees. Higher up, the open slopes and moraine may give you added reassurance with a pole, but again the path is quite easy to negotiate.
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 walking on ropes 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, 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. 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 will be an advantage. 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) will be a distinct advantage. 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 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 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. However, 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 hang 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 across an anchor safely is vital.
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.
The trek up to base camp 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 and Equipment list for Island Peak
- BAGS - Large Rucksack ~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- body hands & head
- BASELAYER - 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
- SLEEPING - 4 to 5 season sleeping bag
- EATING/DRINKING - Water bottles & favorite snacks for during the day
- WASHING & MEDICAL - To allow you to wash and manage minor first aid situations
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
- Walking Axe
Plastic boots or double mountaineering can be rented from the village in Khumjung.
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.
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.
All our guides are given guide training in Nepal paid for by the company and have all been on many climbs to high altitude with Gavin Bate and been given extensive training in managing foreign clients safely and dealing with the expectations of paying clients.
We offer an inclusive package. We don't ask for land payments. We INCLUDE all of your meals on the trek, we include accommodation for the entire itinerary, we include your flight transfers and a full itinerary allowing plenty of time to safely acclimatise, enjoy and explore your surroundings.
The teams we employ include excellent cooks and porters who have all worked for the company for a long time and are well versed in providing good food and good support for all our expeditions. They are well provisioned and equipped themselves, as we provide climbing equipment, sleeping bags, sunglasses and good boots.
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.
Our trips contribute to the Moving Mountains charity. In Nepal this includes providing mattresses to the porters huts dotted around the Khumbu, providing training schemes for porters and proper equipment, and of course all the work we do in the villages in solu Khumbu where our staff come from. Over more than twenty years we have been rejuvenating whole communities and economies using the benefits of tourism and the fundraising from Gavin's own climbs of Mount Everest.