Mera Peak (6476m) and Island Peak (6189m)
This is a 25 day mountain expedition to the Nepalese Himalaya to climb the famous trekking peaks of Mera Peak and Imja Tse or Island Peak (6189m), which are both achievable for someone with good fitness and alpine skills up to PD/PD+.
The total trip duration is 28 days - being day of arrival into Kathmandu to the earliest day of departure. The dates coincide with people doing the trip to Mera Peak only, splitting at Lukla to carry on up the Khumbu valley to climb Island Peak. Very experienced groups could cross the Amphu Lapcha Pass to reach Island Peak but this route has become significantly harder due to the impact of climate change on the glaciers on these high passes and peaks.
The standard North route on Mera Peak is a high altitude technically straightforward ascent on glaciated ground with few objective dangers like crevasses. The main challenge is being well acclimatised and mountain fit, and this makes it a popular peak for climbers and adventurous trekkers. The summit has three peaks - North, South and Central - and the highest northern one at 6476 metres offers classic panoramic views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu as well as many other peaks in the Khumbu region.
Panoramic view from summit of Mera Peak (courtesy Wikipedia)
The North ridge of Island Peak involves a combination of scrambling, moving on a glacier and ice climbing, although the steeper sections of the route are now assisted with a fixed line and the crevasses have ladders spanning them. The peak is actually an extension of the ridge that comes off Lhotse Shar and even at 6189 metres (20,305 feet) it is dwarfed by the huge South-facing Lhotse Wall which is an overwhelming sight and blocks the top of Everest from view.
First climbed in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay as a training summit for Mount Everest, the main summit was reached by Swiss climber Hans-Rudolf von Gunten in 1956 who then went on to make the second ascent of Everest and the first ascent of Lhotse. From Base Camp at around 5100m there is a scramble up to the top of a gully and the snowline after which crampons are put on for a section on glacier to the base of a steep headwall and finally an exposed ridge to the summit. During the season the route is normally fixed but the summit day is still demanding, in particular the abseil descent which is tiring at altitude and well into the day. Acclimatization is important and being mountain fit on the day.
Summary of the Mera Peak and Island Peak itinerary
|1-2||Arrive in Kathmandu on first day, second day preparing for trip, overcoming jetlag and sightseeing.|
|3-10||1-8||Fly to Phaplu and drive/trek up to Khare at 4659m over eight days through the solu Khumbu and the Barun Valley to reach the base of Mera Peak.|
|11-15||9-13||Five day climbing period. Hike up to Mera La (Pass) at 5350m, then High Camp, summit and back down to Khare. Includes weather and acclimatisation time.|
|16-18||14-16||Hike down to Khote and cross the Zetra La to descend into Lukla.|
|19-23||17-21||Hike from Lukla to Island Peak base camp via Namche Bazaar, Dingboche and Chukkung.|
|24-25||22-23||Summit Imja Tse and descend to Chukkung or Dingboche. Added weather day.|
|26-27||24-25||Trek to Namche Bazaar and Lukla.|
|28-29||Flight to Kathmandu. One night in a local hotel or flight home. Due to weather delays it is best to allow for one extra day potentially waiting for a flight out of Lukla|
CLIMBING MERA PEAK
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.
Mera Peak is not technically demanding but it is high at 6476m and has a long summit day, and you are of course open to the elements. The terrain is not difficult but it does require care and alertness. You need to take care of your hydration and maintain a slow manageable pace. The snow route itself is not steep, but it is a big day out and it will sap your strength.
You will need to be comfortable moving on a man rope, clipping in and maintaining an efficient pace and a safe line. You also need to be familiar with walking on crampons and being able to self arrest with your walking axe. We use a high camp for this peak so experience camping on the snow and keeping warm, dry, hydrated and well fed is important to ensure you're in the best shape for summit day.
Advanced Base Camp on Mera Peak with sleeping tents and a cook tent set up for a few days on the permanent snow. From here the ascent is not technical but it is high and challenging.
Mera Peak Summit, the highest trekking peak in Nepal and a strenuous challenge.
CLIMBING ISLAND PEAK
The expedition not only provides an enjoyable climb but also provides some of the most spectacular scenery of the Himalayas in the Khumbu region. From the village of Dingboche Island Peak is clearly seen at the top of the valley 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.
On the final summit ridge of Island Peak with Ama Dablam in the background.
The approach follows the Chukkung Valley to Base Camp, from which the summit is a challenging 9 to 12 hour round trip depending on conditions. Base Camp is a small area at the base of the mountain right next to the Imja lake. There is a higher camp further up the rocky slope but there is no water there so nobody uses it anymore.
Starting early the walk in the dark follows circuitous rocky paths and scrambles to the snow line. From 'crampon point' at the start of the glacier there are numerous crevasses to cross and you will be roped up in groups of three or four. Some of the crevasses are deep and there will be ladders to cross, which are not difficult but do require care and alertness. The route is normally marked with wands 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.
Crossing the glacier on Island Peak and heading towards the headwall which has fixed line to ascend onto the summit ridge which is narrow and exposed to the summit.
Reaching the base of the headwall there is a 300 metre climb at a maximum of 40 degrees to the summit ridge using jumars on a fixed line. The fixed line extends all the way along an exposed summit ridge about another 300 metres long which is narrow and precipitous but not steep. The top itself is quite small with only enough room for maybe four or five people to stand safely.
On the final summit ridge of Island Peak with Ama Dablam in the background.
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 to the 360 panorama.
Coming back down again you will feel the tiredness but it's vital to be completely alert. The first section back down the ridge is exposed and at the top of the fixed lines you will need to abseil down the headwall. The initial section is the steepest and there are anchor points every 30 metres or so with easy shelfs to rest on. This is a single line abseil with no top roping so it's important you are competent and confident in abseiling (or rappelling) by yourself.
Once back on the glacier be very careful coming back in sunlight; the snow will not be as hard packed and people are tired. The descent from the summit back to base can be quick, around three to four hours.
ACCOMMODATION and FOOD
Accommodation on the trek sections are in comfortable lodges run by local families. Each lodge has a central communal area with stove, while the bedrooms are unheated with two beds and mattresses, blanket and pillows. You will need to bring a sleeping bag. The lodges generally have showers which are powered by gas and some use the infamous ‘drop’ toilets, though most now have flush systems now.
Food on the trek is very good quality, and a mixture of local Nepali / Sherpa food and western recipes. The local Dal Bhat or Momos are an excellent choice and burgers & chips are a common meal in the Khumbu Valley, however less likely on the trek to Mera Peak as this area is not as developed, nor busy as the main trail north of Lukla to Everest. You will find everything from beer to batteries to Mars bars available in the lodges and local shops along the trail a Nepal price guide can be found here.
At Mera Peak base and High camp and also Island Peak base camp, we will be in mountain tents usually sleeping two persons per tent. You should bring a 4 season sleeping bag and also a good quality sleeping mat. For lower down you may wish to use a sleeping bag liner to sleep in an open zipped 4 season bag, so that you don't get too hot.
CLIMBING EXPERIENCE NEEDED FOR MERA PEAK AND ISLAND PEAK
Previous winter mountaineering experience is a bonus however the guides will offer training and practice sessions whilst you're trekking to the peaks, so you will have time to learn and practice the skills needed - such as clipping into a rope and walking safely within the group. This will mean being comfortable and efficient with equipment like crampons, walking axe, harnesses and karabiners and how to tie in safely to a man rope. Walking safely on a man rope on glaciated ground is all part of the experience.
On the headwall, it will be necessary to use a jumar and safety karabiner attached to your harness to ascend (sometimes known as a 'cows tail'), 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 self-reliant.
The crevasses are 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. 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 safely across an anchor safely is vital. It goes without saying that the rule of always keeping clipped in applies here.
MERA PEAK AND ISLAND PEAK SUPPORT TEAM
From your first enquiry and in the build up to your trip you'll have direct access to experienced and professional guides and climbers for advice or to ask questions. Then, on arrival in Nepal, you'll meet Tsering, our operations manager in Kathmandu who organises all the staff, equipment, permits and hotel arrangements. He is also the main link between you and the UK office when you are in Nepal.
- You will travel with our qualified, time proven, guides who not only lead trekking groups but are experienced in high altitude expeditions.
- Porters' health and welfare is constantly monitored by local and UK trekking group leaders.
- 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.
- We provide insurance cover for all of our Sherpa guides and local staff in the event of an accident or need for repatriation.
- Preparation information and support is available to help you plan.
You can speak directly with Gavin Bate about your proposed climb of Island and Mera Peak and have the benefit of somebody who has climbed the mountain many times and who will 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.
MERA PEAK AND ISLAND PEAK EMERGENCY AND EVACUATION
Helicopter evacuations are the common way of dealing with an emergency in Nepal and there is a very established system for dealing with the logistics. It is obviously important to have travel insurance in place and to be clear on your destination and what you are doing to the insurance company. In the event of an emergency the initial job of moving a casualty will be the responsibility of the team itself and the guide and porters and anybody else nearby. The task will be to move the casualty to the nearest safe place and then to a point where an evacuation can be made. On a Himalayan peak this could be some distance and take some time. Bad weather is the most common reason for delaying helicopter assistance so it's important to acknowledge that there is a requirement for self-sufficiency and self-management in the mountains.
Horses are commonly used for assisted descent and they normally charge around USD$150.00 per day which needs to be paid in cash. A helicopter evacuation can be organised through your insurance company but there will need to be some direct communication with the insurance company to open a case and explain the circumstances. This will require you to have your policy number, name and address and the date on which you paid for the insurance policy. We don't normally carry a satellite phone because of the ubiquity of mobile phones now, but it may be necessary to walk some distance to reach a lodge where there is phone connection.
In the case of altitude sickness the best advice is not to take risks and descend. Further ascent can lead rapidly to the much more serious cerebral or pulmonary oedema which is incapacitating, so normally if you are feeling really bad then best to descend while you're still mobile. There is plenty of literature on acclimatising and using the appropriate drugs but even with medication you should still descend.
KIT AND EQUIPMENT FOR MERA PEAK AND ISLAND PEAK
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.
- BAGS - Large Rucksack or duffle bag ~80L (for a porter to carry) + medium daypack ~40L (carried by you)
- SHELL - Top and bottoms
- INSULATION - Warm layered system to keep you warm, down jacket for summit day, sun hat and warm hat
- BASE LAYER - one or two 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
- WASH KIT AND MEDICAL KIT - 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
- Walking Axe
- Plastic boots or double mountaineering can be rented from the village in Chukkung.
Mera Peak and Island Peak cost £3595.00
The price shown is based on a minimum team number of 3 people and there is a single person supplement of £750.00.
- Airport transfers
- Internal flights (inc Kathmandu to Kathmandu airport) or transport to and from Kathmandu if travelling by land
- Accommodation in lodges or tents
- All meals except additional hot drinks and boiled water
- Climbing permits, VDC permits
- Sagamartha and Barun National Park Fees
- Sherpa guides (English speaking, first aid certificated)
- Staff evacuation insurance
- Group climbing gear, such as fixed lines and anchors, tents, cooking equipment.
- International flight to Kathmandu
- Accommodation in Kathmandu - we can book this for you or you can book yourself.
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu
- Personal costs on trek like additional drinks/snacks
- Insurance policy
- Summit bonus for guide (60,000 rupees per guide which is paid collectively by the whole group)
- Tips for the porters and cook used at base camp (~£80.00)
A deposit of £100 is required on booking to secure your place and we ask that the remaining balance (trip price minus the deposit) is paid four weeks prior to your departure. You can make interim payments and add information like flight times through your Adventure Alternative account.
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 on the helicopter to Lukla can cost around $500.00 minimum. The cancelled portion of your aeroplane flight can be refunded and used to offset this figure, which is about $170.00 for a one way sector, so there would be a balance to pay for the helicopter. You can use your 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 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.
There is another option which is to drive to Paphlu and then take a jeep on the new road as far as it will go and then walk to Lukla. This option takes more days - three in total each way currently - and there is a saving but only of about $70 compared to the flight.
Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due four weeks before travel.
- Duration 28 days
- Numbers 2 minimum
- Altitude 6476m & 6189m
- Accommodation Lodges, camping
- Challenge Strenuous
- Climbing grade PD+