All you need to know about Island Peak climbing

Posted Jun 17th, 2021 under Blog, Climbing & Expeditions, Travel Guide, Trekking & Hiking,

Island Peak Climbing
If you are in search of more than just a scenic trek and daunting escapade among the stunning Himalayas, then climbing Island Peak is exactly what you are looking for. Island Peak, also known as Imja Tse, is situated in Nepal’s Everest region and stands at an elevation of 6189 meters above sea level. It stands somewhere between Mount Ama Dablam (6812 m) and Mount Lhotse (8516 m) and is considered one of the challenging yet achievable trekking peaks, possible even to novice climbers with proper acclimatization and trainings. From afar, this snow-capped mountain seems like an island rising tall in the center of the Chhukung Valley, surrounded by a sea of ice. Hence, the peak is known as Island Peak. Most people combine an expedition to Island Peak with the famous Everest Base Camp trek because of its ideal location and acclimatization purpose. If someone wants to stretch the adventure a bit, then they also choose to trek via Kongma La (5,535 m), one of the three popular passes of Everest Region. Opting the Kongma La route provides an opportunity to experience glacier walking prior to Island Peak climbing.

Why climb Island Peak?
Simple answer is it is a Himalayan peak but an achievable one. However, climbing Island Peak is not limited to this only. Trip to Island Peak offers an awesome views of Himalayan ranges, forests, valleys, beautiful landscapes and amazing glaciers. Island Peak not only provides you a tremendous chance to experience all the aspects of Himalayan encounter that takes you through remote villages and rugged trails but also offers you the pleasure of climbing a Himalayan peak at the close quarter of the mighty Everest with an acclimatization trek to Everest Base Camp, which is a reward in itself. Another important thing is the peak is 6000 m +, an achievement you can really be proud of.  Finally, the ultimate joy you get after the successful climb is beyond imagination. So, no doubt it’s worth it!

Is it difficult to climb Island Peak?
Climbing a Himalayan mountain is a challenging sport due to altitude and extreme geographical condition. So, Island peak is also a technical climb. It has everything of a Himalayan mountaineering – altitude (at the height of 6819m, there is just about 47% oxygen of the sea level), steep ascent, rock shambles, glacier fields, and what’s more crevasses as well. So, the bottom line is it requires basic mountaineering skills and it definitely should not be your first Himalayan adventure. But the good news is anyone with little mountaineering experience or no experience can do it. The only thing required is proper acclimatization and training from experienced Sherpas. However, prior mountaineering experience is always an advantage.

Let’s have a look at the general overview of the climb. The beginning part of the ascent is strenuous as the terrain is rough and it’s over 5000m. As you climb higher, you reach the glacier field from where you need to use climbing equipment like rope and crampons. As there are also some crevasses en route, there is also the need to use ladders. The final 150 m stretch is a straight wall and is very strenuous. However, summit push won’t be very difficult as after you cross the wall, the summit ridge is short and comparatively easier.

What are the trainings required for Island Peak climbing?
Now you know that Island Peak is bit demanding. For this adventure, you need to be in good shape with proper physical trainings of at least 3/4 months with prior trekking experience. Focus on strength and endurance training like hiking, running, cycling etc. Hitting gym is a good idea. Keeping positive frame of mind during your training is a must. The summit day is very strenuous as one has to walk approx. 12-14 hours for summit and back to base camp. You will also be carrying a backpack of 5-7 kg during the trip. So, while practicing simulation hiking in wilderness, do it with at least 10 kg pack. It is also necessary to train yourself with the hiking and mountaineering boots you are going to use in the trip. Remember, they should be well-worn! Regarding the mountaineering skills, you will get required trainings by your Guides once you reach the Base Camp. However, it is always an advantage if you are familiar with the skills prior to your trip.

Island Peak Climbing
What to eat and where to stay during the trip ?
Good food and comfortable accommodation is very important in every trip. During the journey, you can remain in one of the many tea houses along the way. The majority of teahouse lodgings have shared rooms and good toilet facilities. You can get any of your calorie replenishment food choices such as potato dishes, noodle dishes, rice dishes, dal bhat, egg dishes etc. during your stay in teahouses. While you are in Base Camp or High Camp, you will stay in tented camps and your kitchen team will prepare your healthy and nutritious food for you.

Clothing and Gears
Every trail and elevation needs different types of gear. Right clothing and gears are always the gateway to your success.  So, it is mandatory to have good clothing and gear for your trip to Island Peak. Comfortable hiking and climbing boots, good gloves to keep your hands warm, a good fleece and down jacket, light weighted trekking pants and climbing gears such as Harness, axe, crampons etc are some of the important gears you need during the climb. And yes, make sure that you have a sleeping bag that can keep you warm in a -30-degree centigrade weather. All clothing gears and equipment are easily available in Kathmandu and surprising at Chhukung as well. It is not necessary to buy all the gears, you can hire them. At Chhukung, the approx. cost could be USD 100 for all set of gears for a period of 2 days. We recommend you to have your own jacket and boots because of the size problem (and boots are to be pre-worn). Your travel company will help with the full list of required clothing and gears.

What is the best season to climb Island Peak?
The best season to climb Island peak can be considered in Spring (March-May) or Autumn (Mid-September-October). The weather in the Himalayan region and most places of Nepal stays stable throughout these seasons, which is ideal for adventure activities. The majority of the 8000+m expeditions in the Everest region takes place in the Spring, so expect crowds on the trails. However, once you arrive at your Island Peak camping spot, you can notice that the number of people on the trails has significantly decreased.

Winter climbing is still feasible, but we just recommend it to those who have a lot of mountaineering experience, nearly to the standard of pro athletes. The temperature is very cold, and the atmosphere is extremely harsh during winter.

What permits do you need to climb Island Peak?
Climbing Island Peak requires a climbing permit. Permits are also required to access Sagarmatha National Park. Standard security checkpoints are located along the road. To get through them, you must display your permits.

  • Sagarmatha National Park Area Entry Permit: Nrs. 3,000 NPR + 13% VAT, totaling 3,390 NPR (Approx. US $34)
  • Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality (Local Government) entrance fee / Khumbu VDC entry fees: Nrs. 2,000 (approximately $20)
  • Island Peak climbing permit cost according to the seasons:
  • March, April, and May: US $250
  • September, October, and November: US $125

Island Peak ClimbingHow to avoid altitude sickness?
When you are trekking in high altitudes, you are likely to get altitude sickness. Headaches and a lack of appetite are common among trekkers, but severe AMS symptoms can be fatal. To avoid having to turn around, many trekkers may try to conceal their worsening condition from their Sherpas and guides. This, however, can be life threatening, and you must be aware of when your body is asking you to avoid climbing further. The best practice to avoid altitude sickness is having a good itinerary that allows proper acclimatization. Here are some of the tips to consider while you climb Island Peak.

  • Climb slowly: Always remember, climb slowly while you ascend Island Peak. Doing this can help you adjust the level of oxygen in your body and there is a less chance that you could gain altitude sickness.
  • Drink enough water: If you stay hydrated, it may prevent you from altitude sickness. But drinking too much water is also not good as it dilutes your body’s sodium level that may lead to weakness or nausea which is similar to AMS.
  • Be psychologically prepared: If you fear that you might get altitude sickness while trekking in high altitude then sometimes the psychological factor may guide you to get altitude sickness. Always stay positive and enjoy the great picturesque during the trip.
  • Acclimatization: You should consider rest for 1 or 2 days if you are trekking in high altitude areas. Acclimatization helps you to adapt to the high altitude environment and assist you to avoid altitude sickness.


Island Peak Trek Distance, Time and Elevation

Day 1: Fly to Lukla & Trek to Phakding [2652m]

Distance       Flight Hours    walking hours     Elevation Gain

145 km       30 min                   4 hours            1400m-2610m

Day 2: Phakding to Namche [3450m]

Distance       walking hours      Elevation Gain

7.4 km               3 hours           2610m-3440m

Day 3: Rest day in Namche

Distance       walking hours     Elevation Gain

3.8 km         2 hours         3440m – 3840m

Day 4: Namche to Tengboche [3867m]

Distance       walking hours     Elevation Gain

6 km                  3 hours          3840m-3867m

Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche [4350m]

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

11 km         5 hours           3867m-4350m

Day 6: Rest day in Dingboche (Hike to Nangkartshang Peak)

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

1.5 km               2 hours               4252m-5050m approximately

Day 7: Dingboche to Lobuche

Distance      walking hours        Elevation Gain

6.2 km                5 hours             4252m-4930m

Day 8: Lobuche to Gorak Shep

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

4.3 km            3 hours         4930m-5184m

Day 9: Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp

Distance       walking hours      Elevation Gain

3.4 km            2 hours            5184m-5357m

Day 10: Everest Base Camp to Dingboche

Distance       walking hours      Elevation lost

5.3 km         6 hours            5357m-4350m

Day 11: Dingboche to Chhukung

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

4.1 km           4 hours          4350m-4710m

Day 12: Chhukung to Island Peak Base Camp

Distance       walking hours     Elevation Gain

4 km               3 hours         4710m-5150m

Day 13: Ascent of Island Peak

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

7 km                 11 hours          5500m-6189m

Day 14: Contingency Day

Day 15: Trek to Pangboche

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

12 km             5 hours             6189m-3950m

Day 16: Pangboche to Namche

Distance       walking hours    Elevation Gain

13 km              4 hours          3950-3450m

Day 17: Namche to Lukla

Distance       walking hours    Elevation lost

13.5 km             6 hours          3450m-2800m

Day 18: Fly to Kathmandu

Distance      flight hours       Elevation lost

145km        30 minutes       2610m-1400m

Island Peak Climbing

 

 

Happy Explorers

Dolpo requires some extra logsistics and Pemba made all necessary arrangements. We also benefited. Both treks were wonderful! from having a local guide- Baba –in Mustang- as this is more of a cultural trek-his personal knowledge was useful.

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