Traverse from Mera Peak to Island Peak
Mera Peak to Island Peak traverse via the Amphu Lapcha Pass
This is a strenuous mountain expedition to the Nepalese Himalaya to climb the two famous trekking peaks of Mera (6461m) and Imja Tse (6189m) and traverse the high Amphu Lapcha mountain pass (5850m) between the Makalu Barun area and the Everest (Khumbu) valley.
The trip could follow two options depending on conditions and preferences; one is to trek into the Khumbu first and climb Imja Tse (Island Peak) and then cross over the pass to finish with Mera Peak, or to do the trip the other way around. It's the same number of days and the acclimatisation is similar. The issue is the crossing of the Amphu Lapcha pass and what would be regarded as the best side to make the ascent.
Mera Peak is in the Makalu Barun National Park on the edge of the Khumbu region. At 6476m this is the highest of Nepal's trekking peaks and offers fantastic views from the summit including Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Ama Dablam, Chamlang and Baruntse. This peak is not very technical but still requires members to be roped together.
Island Peak is a more technical peak which requires the use of roped travel across crevassed terrain and a climb on fixed ropes up a headwall to an airy ridge. The headwall can be dry which means ascending on mixed rock and ice, and it is important to check the anchors especially if the descent is in the afternoon. This is a classic climb graded PD+/AD- depending on conditions, and is obvoously at high altitude so acclimatisation is important.
Groups either visit Everest Base Camp first before going to Island Peak, or else will have climbed Mera Peak already, depending on which way round the trip is run. Island Peak is at the top of the Chukkung Valley and can be accessed simply by walking up the valley from Dingboche or the more interesting route which crosses the Khumbu Glacier at Lobuje and the Kongma La for an overnight camp below Pokalde Peak before descending into Chukkung village.
The Amphu Lapcha pass is steep and requires mountaineering skils, especially abseiling and using fixed lines for the ascent. Amphu Lapcha is technically more demanding than Mera Peak and similar to Island Peak requiring good mountaineering skills to navigate crevassed glaciated ground on a man rope, and ascending a headwall using fixed lines and a jumar.
The difficulty of this traverse clearly depends on weather and snow conditions but we have built in enough spare days to accommodate weather delays as well as acclimatisation. Members should have experience of moving on a climbing rope and using fixed lines, and be familiar with multi-day high altitude trips. It is a physically demanding expedition but offers a truly amazing experience of some famous 6000m Himalayan peaks. For a detailed look at the kit required, check out our Nepal kit guide.
Makalu to Everest Traverse itinerary
The following gives a general outline for the trip with options 1 or 2 depending on which peak is climbed first.
Option 1 - Mera Peak, Amphu Lapcha, Island Peak
|1-2||Arrive in Kathmandu, rest & sightseeing|
|3-14||Fly to the mountains, trek to & climb Mera Peak|
|15-19||Trek to and cross Amphu Lapcha Pass|
|20-22||Ascend Island Peak|
|23-25||Cross Kongma Tse and Khumbu glacier to Lobuje|
|26-31||Everest base camp and return to Lukla and Kathmandu|
Option 2 - Island Peak, Amphu Laphcha, Mera Peak
|1-2||Arrive in Kathmandu, rest & sightseeing|
|3-12||Fly to the mountains, trek to Everest Base Camp|
|13-15||Cross Kongma La to Island Peak BC|
|16-17||Ascend Island Peak|
|18-21||Cross Amphu Lapcha Pass and trek to Mera Peak BC|
|22-23||Ascend Mera Peak|
|24-31||Trek out, fly to KTM, fly home|
A detailed itinerary will be available to all members on their travel page when they book, but obviously on a trip like this it is important to acknowledge that the programme is dependent on many factors such as weather, group fitness and ground conditions. The programme has spare days incorporated into the programme in order to accommodate all these factors to an extent. Clearly if safety factors determine that the trip needs to be altered or changed then it is the prerogative of the guide to do so.
Makalu to Everest Traverse from £3,495.00
- Airport transfers
- Accommodation in lodges or tents depending on location
- Three meals per day with a hot drink (e.g tea, coffee, juices)
- Climbing permits for all peaks
- Sagamartha and Barun National Park Fees
- Sherpa guides (English speaking, trained in first aid)
- Porters (carries about 15kgs)
- Staff food, insurance and equipment
- Group climbing gear, eg. ropes, ice screws, tents
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 (~£700.00)
- Accommodation in Kathmandu - we can book this for you. There are options from our guesthouse to luxury hotels.
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu (~£40)
- Personal costs like additional drinks/snacks (~£50)
- Trip Insurance (~£40-80)
- Visa ($90 for 90 days)
- Airport departure tax for some tickets (£15 paid in Nepalese rupees on departure)
- Discretionary Tips (~£100 per climber)
- Personal climbing equipment and clothing
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.
Makalu to Everest Traverse - fitness and terrain
This is a strenuous expedition and not one to be under estimated. Most people will climb Mera Peak and then fly home to their home comforts to recover. However, we will climb Mera Peak, then trek on to cross a high pass and then climb another 6000m peak. The cumulative effect of the previous days and weeks will mean that you may feel progressively more tired. The flip side to this is that you will be very well acclimitised after Mera Peak, to an altitude in excess of all the subsequent ascents.
You will need very good cardio-vascular fitness for this trip in combination with very good low-intensity long period fitness. You will also need good muscular conditioning, especially in your legs, hips, core and back.
Clearly, the best preparation for this trip is training in a way that best replicates the demands of the trip. You will need to be doing some good long walks of 5 hours or more on hilly or steep terrain with a pack weighing 10 kg. You will also get very good and relevant effects from cardio sessions of half an hour or more such as running, swimming, cycling, rowing and also some specifically-targeted body-weight or free-weight workouts such as squats, calf raises, planks etc.
The terrain is very varied. A lot of the paths in the main valleys are very pleasant and easy, some are in cultivated farmland areas and others are quite high and open. Shorts and Tshirts and a day pack and some nice weather will be enough for some perfect mountain days.
Mera Peak is not technically demanding but it is high and a long summit day, and you are of course open to the elements. Take care with hydration and maintaining a slow manageable pace. The snow route itself is not steep but it is a big day out and will sap your strength. Make sure you rest properly before ascending again to cross the Amphu Lapcha pass which can be tricky. It can be icy or there can be big snow steps, either way you will need to be comfortable using a rope for ascending (a jumar clipped onto a fixed line with a safety karabiner also attached), and descending (a figure of eight on a single line from a top anchor). At this altitude you will certainly feel the effort of this day, but the acclimatisation from Mera Peak will mean you are already very mountain fit and acclimatised.
The terrain around Island Peak will be tricky to negotiate, there is no path as such and you will need to scramble across boulders and ice rubble and scree. It will take several hours to get to Island Peak base camp, and make sure you keep hydrated.
Island Peak is a classic Himalayan 6000'er and requires multiple skills on mixed steep ground. Initially negotiating the paths in the dark up to the snow line is not too difficult but there is a lot of loose scree and switchbacks in and out of the rocks and cliffs. Once at crampon point, the journey continues on man ropes across crevassed glaciated ground. There are ladders in place and the route is normally easy to follow, but confidence and competence on a rope is important. Make sure you are familiar with your harness and tying into a rope, and moving safely in a team.
The headwall to the summit ridge of Island Peak is 300 metres vertical ascent and takes about two to four hours depending on how busy it is, the weather and how efficient you can move on fixed lines. The route is not difficult, the gradient is about 40 degrees and there are plenty of shelves and rest points, plus there are lots of anchors to cross, first with your safety karabiner and then with your jumar.
At the top of the headwall the summit ridge extends a further 250 metres to the small and shapely peak, and this is quite exposed and airy with amazing views looking back towards Ama Dablam. The lines are still in place, but again it is important not to lean back on the rope. Climb with your axe and use the jumar as a safety device, not something to 'jug' up the rope. The summit itself is small, only room for about five people comfortably, and it is a truly remarkable spot with a panorama view of some of the great peaks of the high Himalaya. Everest itself is not visible, because Island Peak is close up to the vast and dramatic south side of the Lhotse/Nuptse wall, scene of many a famous winter climb by the great Polish super climbers in the 1970s.
Coming back down again you will feel the tiredness but the rest of the trip is comparatively easy, with paths and passes to enjoy. The crossing of the Khumbu glacier itself needs care, and of course you will need crampons and your axe again. Make sure your points are sharp as the glacier is bottle hard ice.
Makalu to Everest Traverse 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.
Our clothing needs to be adaptable to the variation in conditions and the best way to achieve this is through a layering system, preferably with zips in the front and even armpits. These zips can be opened and closed as we move to regulate temperature without needing to stop and physically remove garments. Another very useful way to regulate temperature is simply by putting on or taking off a hat and gloves. A couple of pockets in your outer layer can be invaluable for this, or evern sufiing them down the front of your top.
The kit list can be used as a guide but you may have clothing systems that you have found to best suit your own preferences. The general idea is to be equipped with shell layers for wind and precipitation, insulating layers for temperatures down to perhaps -20 before wind-chill, base and mid layers for layering flexibilty and warm, good quality mountaineering boots with fully compatible crampons.
In addition, whilst it could be -20 on an early morning start or on the summit, it could also be +20 or more with strong UV in the valley as we traverse between peaks. It is likely therefore that you will leave the tent in the morning in maybe; mountain trousers, baselayer, warm mid-layer, soft-shell, down jacket, windproof layer, two hats, gloves and over-mitts. By the time you return in the early afternoon you may be wearing just mountain trousers, thin long sleeved baselayer top, sun hat & sun glasses with everything else stuffed into your daysack.
- All our guides are from the local region and are hugely knowledgeable and experienced including having made expeditions to Mount Everest
- We offer small scale, flexible and 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.
- We follow and exceed the IPPG and other guidance on the fair treatment of porters.
- We have received the maximum 5-Star rating for sustainable tourism by the Association of Independent Tour operators.
- We have won multiple national awards for Responsible and Sustainable tourism.
- 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 a member of the Association on Independent Travel Operators and are financially bonded with ABTOT to provide financial security to you.
- Our Expeditions are independently assessed as conforming to British Standard 8848, Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom
With our low deposit service, 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 private itinerary.
- Duration 31 days
- Numbers 2 min
- Altitude 6461m
- Accommodation Lodges, camping
- Challenge Strenuous
- Climbing grade PD+