Do you want to include an Island Peak ascent in your plans for trekking in Nepal? Good idea. Island Peak (Imja Tse) is a six-thousander with a summit that is relatively easy to climb, and due to the numerous trekking opportunities in the immediate vicinity, acclimatization is not an impossible task. An Island Peak ascent is the perfect introduction to high mountain trekking and mountaineering. Let's go through some basics in this blog post like height, weather, packing lists and the best itinerary for Island Peak climbing.
Last updated in August 2022
What and where is Island Peak?
Imja Tse, better known as Island Peak, is a mountain in the Sagarmatha National Park of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal. The peak was named Island Peak in 1953 by members of the British Mount Everest Expedition because from Dingboche it appears like an island in an ocean of ice. Later the peak was renamed Imja Tse in 1983, but Island Peak remains the most commonly used name. The peak is in fact an extension of the ridge coming down from the southern end of Lhotse Shar.
The southwest summit of Imja Tse was first climbed in 1953 as part of a training exercise of a British expedition that went to the summit of Mount Everest. The team that climbed Imja Tse consisted of Tenzing Norgay, Charles Evans, Alfred Gregory, Charles Wylie and seven other Sherpas. The main summit was first climbed in 1956 by Hans-Rudolf von Gunten and two unknown Sherpas, members of a Swiss team that made the second ascent of Everest and the first ascent of Lhotse.
What Is So Special About Climbing Island Peak?
If you've ever climbed Kilimanjaro, you may have wondered what it would be like to cross the 6000-meter mark. Indeed, Kilimanjaro is a five-thousander at 5,895 meters. Island Peak, at an altitude of 6,189 meters, is popular with beginners and serves as a preparation for higher mountains such as Everest. Although it is physically demanding, it requires relatively little technique and can be climbed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Of course it is not that easy. It needs a solid crash course in high altitude mountaineering, but with a good guide you can do something really special.
How Can I Combine Island Peak Climbing With A Trek?
The best way to acclimatize for an Island Peak ascent is to combine it with a trek in the Everest region. A trek to Everest Base Camp Trek is the perfect preparation for an Island Peak ascent. This allows for proper acclimatization while you can spend more time in Khumbu. A typical trek begins after a short flight to Lukla. The trails will take you to Phakding, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Sagarmatha National Park) in the green valley of Dudh Koshi and on to the famous Namche Bazaar, where we will spend two nights for acclimatization. The trekking continues from Tengboche to Pheriche and to Lobuche; these Sherpa villages rich in culture are full of chortens, mani walls, museums and fantastic views of the Himalayas.
Before the expected Island Peak you will visit the Everest Base Camp and climb to Kalapathar. Kalapathar is popular with hikers as you can enjoy a full sunrise or sunset over Mount Everest. Finally we hike to the Base Camp of Island Peak and climb the summit on day 12. The hard work is rewarded by a 360 degree panoramic view of mountains like Lhotse, Ama Dablam and Makalu. From there we hike up and down again until the exciting experience of Everest Base Camp with Island Peak Trekking ends again in Kathmandu.
Island Peak Deaths - How Dangerous is Island Peak?
There haven't been to many Island Peak Deaths in recent years. Of course, you are not as exposed on Island Peak as you are on Mount Everest and the likes. However, the few Island Peaks that have been registered were caused by altitude sickness. If you keep reading you will find a good itinerary which will allow you to acclimatize for climbing Island Peak. Also, you can read about how to prevent altitude sickness, the number one cause for trouble in the Himalaya.
Island Peak Weather - What Is The Best Season?
The Everest region, like the rest of Nepal, has 4 different seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. The months from February to May, before the monsoon, and from October to December, after the monsoon, are the most popular for trekking tours Island Peak. Climbing Island Peak is not possible during the monsoon season. What needs to be said is that each trekking season has its own excitement and atmosphere for hikers, but if you want to have some assurance about the weather conditions during the trek, be sure to stick to the high season. You can also climb Island Peak in the winter months, but you will need to revise your packing list and prepare for temperatures well below -15 Celsius.
What Is a Good Itinerary for Climbing Island Peak?
You shouldn't climb a six-thousander with just anybody. If you are travelling from far, you will want to have a company on your side to help you with the preparation. You don't want a crash course for the actual ascent, but you want to have the opportunity to use the right climbing equipment, and with the following itinerary for climbing Island Peak by Nepal Eco Adventure you can make the most of it.
Day 01 -Flight to Lukla (2,804m) | Short Trek to Phakding (2610m)
We will take a 30min flight to Lukla early in the morning, in which you will get the first glimpse of the mountains. Porters will be introduced at the airport. Then, after breakfast, we will trek towards Phakding through the Dudh Kosi Valley crossing few local style suspension bridges. You will admire the mountains and the green valley, colorful prayer flags and stacks of Mani stones on the way. After this 2-3 hour trek, you will have the rest of the day to explore the village in Phakding.
Day 02 – Trek to Namche Bazzar (3,440m)
We will head towards Namche Bazzar. After a short leisurely hike across several suspension bridges, we will climb up to the Sagarmatha National Park entrance, where they will check permits. Then we will climb for 2-3 hours to Namche. There will be two viewing spots where you will get your first look at the Mount Everest.
Day 03 – Acclimatization Day in Namche Bazzar (3,440m)
‘Climb high, sleep low’ is the motto to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness. Most of the trekkers show the first sign of AMS in or near Namche. Therefore, the day will be spent hiking up and coming back for the night to acclimatize. You will first ascend to Syangboche airstrip and then to Khunde Village passing several Chortens. In a monastery lies the purported Yeti Scalp. Climbing up further to Everest View Hotel, you will enjoy a 360 degree view of the amazing peaks including Mount Everest. Then, we will go back to Namche Bazzar.
Day 04 – Trek to Tengboche (3,790m)
Let’s go for an up and down path to Tengboche with an excellent view of peaks like Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Nuptse and Kwangde.We will pass the village of Sanasa and then the trail will be dropping down towards Phunki Thanga and climbing up sharply to Tengboche.The climb will pass through the forest of rhododendron, pine, fir, magnolia and birch that starts to thin out as the famous Tengboche monastery comes to view. The area is a cluster of few lodges, a bakery and the monastery. This is the best place for panoramic view of the peaks named earlier.
Day 05 – Trek to Pheriche (4,280m)
An easy descent through rhododendron forest and across a bridge over Imja Khola to Pangboche. The route will continue to Pheriche, for a 3-4 hour trek in total. There is a rudimentary hospital run by Himalayan Rescue Association in Pheriche. It only opens in peak seasons (March-May and November-December). We will spend the night in Pheriche.
Day 06 – Day trip to Nagarjun (5000m) and back to Pheriche
A 800m climb will take us to Nagarjun peak at 5000m altitude. You will enjoy some good views of the mountains including Mt. Makalu 5th highest mountain in the world. This hike usually helps with acclimatization. There are chances to see snow leopard on this 3-4 hour hike. Once you arrive there, you will admire the view from the top and descend down to Pherice.
Day 07 – Trek to Lobuche (4,950m)
The gradual climb to Lobuche will be pleasant as we will get closer and closer to the snow clad giants. After a 45-60min hike, we will reach Thukla. There, we will make a stop for food and continue up to a flat area where several memorials dedicated to the climbers who died on Everest are erected. Then, we will climb out of the valley and descend to the yak pastures at Lobuche.
Day 08 – Trek to Gorakshep (5160m) | Hike to EBC (5,545m)
We will pack light for a 2-2.5 hour trek to Gorakshep composed of both easy and hard parts. The path winds between boulders and will be rocky and slippery, but then you will be surrounded by huge mountains. You will see the highest glacier (Khumbu) along the way. After reaching Gorakshep, we will check into a lodge, eat something and head to EBC. Another 1-2 hour hike along Khumbu glacier will bring us to the base camp. The yellow tents of the climbers will become visible as we will reach EBC. Then, you might look around, take pictures, write you name on boulders before heading back to Gorakshep.
Day 09 – Climb Kalapathar (5400m) | Trek Down to Dingboche
You will notice when up in the Base Camp that the Everest is not completely visible. From Gorak Shep, we will walk down, up and up again to Kalapathar. We will climb up to Kalapather either sunrise or sunset time. It will take 1.5 to 2 hours. You will have the best view of Mount Everest, Nuptse and Changtse with a little of Lhotse from here. Then we will return to Gorakshep for food and descend to Dingboche.
Day 10 – Trek to Chukhung (4,760m)
From Dingboche to Chukhung, the trek will be about 2 hour long and easy. Chukhung is a beautiful valley nestled between mountains like Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Imja Tse etc. You will appreciate a really good and close view of these mountains and their glaciers. The river Imja Khola runs past the Chukhung village where we will be lodging.
Day 11 – Trek to Island Peak Base Camp (5,100m)
After breakfast, we will trek towards south, turn east and enter the main valley. We will walk along the stream and pass Imja and Lhotse glacier moraine before reaching the valley where we will camp in tents. From the camp you will see the southwestern face of the Imja Tse (Island Peak).
Day 12 – Climb Island Peak | Return to Chukkung
We will walk toward the summit aroung 01:00 to 02:00am. It will take about 2 hours to reach the High camp, then we will climb the rock gully. We will follow a ridge-line to the summit glacier and climb up a steep snow slope to reach the summit. There, you will get an excellent view of the mountains. After spending some time htere, we will go back to high camp to base camp and all the way back to Chukhung.
Day 13 – Buffer day
Just in case of bad weather or any health problem, we will use this day on the base camp or further down on the trail. Whenever you may needed this buffer day, you will be able to use it.
Day 14 – Trek back to Tengboche
From Chukhung, we will walk down towards Pangboche and take the same trail we took up to descend and then climb up again to reach Tengbochhe. After this 4-5 hour trek, we will spend the night in Tengboche.
Day 15 – Trek to Namche Bazzar
We will walk for 6 to 7 hours, retracing our steps back to Namche Bazaar.
Day 16 – Trek to Lukla
We will go for a 6 to 7 hour walk back to Lukla, where we will spend the night. This will be your last day in the mountains so it will be a good time to relax, enjoy and celebrate your success.
Day 17 – Early flight to Kathmandu
On this final day, we will take an early flight back to Kathmandu. Sitting on the right side of the plane, you will be able to take a last look at the mountains. We will say farewell once we arrive in Kathmandu. May you enjoy the rest of your stay in Nepal!
Want to know more about this program? A detailed description can be found here.
What Permits Do I Need For Climbing Island Peak?
For trekking to Everest Base Camp and climbing Island Peak, you need the following permits:
TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System):
This permit is important for every trekker wishing to trek in Nepal. From theAnnapurna Circuitto the trek to Poon Hill, all trekking routes require this permit. This costs NRS 2000 per person. This equals about 17 USD or 15 EUR. Alternatively, your trekking company arranges you a location permit in Lukla which costs around 20 USD.
Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit:
For entering the Sagarmatha National Park, the park that is home to the Mount Everest Region, you need to obtain an entry permit. This permit costs 30 USD + government tax.
Island Peak Climbing Permit:
In addition to all the above mentioned permits, your trekking company also takes care of your Island Peak climbing permit. Without a valid permit you are not allowed to climb Island Peak.
How Safe Is Island Peak Trekking?
Safety is of the utmost importance to us. That is why this is an area in which we simply do not compromise when it comes to keeping the cost of our hikes and trekkings low. Trekking companies and their guides have been selected on the basis of their technical competence, proven safety performance, impeccable judgment, friendly attitude and ability to provide useful and expert instructions.
They are also very professional and well trained in first aid and personal protection equipment. First aid kits are available on all guided treks and hikes to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak.
If you are worried about safety in terms of criminality, then don't worry. Crime is basically non-existent in the Everest Region.
Training for Climbing Island Peak
If you live anywhere else other than the Himalayas, it will be hard to get your legs ready for higher altitudes. After all, it doesn’t get much higher than Nepal. This is why we have to be clear upfront: Unless you have hiked at a higher altitude before, it will be difficult to get a 100% ready for your adventure. If that sounds bad to you, then comfort yourself with the fact that there is absolutely no need to be 100% ready. You are not climbing K2 or Mount Everest and not running a mountain race. This is trekking and Island Peak is a trekking peak. You are actually supposed to take it easy. Taking it easy is a rule of thumb when you want to prevent altitude sickness while out in Nepal. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, once you are out there on the trails, you have to stick to your own pace. But of course, the fitter you are, the more you can enjoy your time. Get fit!
Should I Hike More?
One solid approach to get the hang of what you do is to rehearse. The best practice for climbing is climbing. Seeing that you are keen on a multi-day trekking experience, we accept that you enjoy walking. Awesome, do it more. If you are fortunate to be encompassed by some hills or even mountains, the time has come to see them all the more frequently. When? In the event that you are new to this, we recommend beginning a half year the start of your trek, essentially going for 60 minutes (or two) climb seven days. When you get the hang of it, after around three weeks, you will have an ideal opportunity to reinforce your power. Convey a pack of 10 to 15kg and include a more drawn out climb of three hours to your week. On the off chance that this way of life is different to you, you will before long receive the rewards of this moderate exercise.
What Are The Health Benefits of an Island Peak Trek?
Some of thehealth benefits of trekking and hikinginclude a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure and sugar levels and of course it helps to control your weight. Once you are ready for the hills, it only gets better. According to Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, ”a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.” Our personal health benefits are a clearer mind and an elevated mood. Trekking keeps us sane. After a good few months of solid hiking, it is time to put your endurance to the test. Do back to back long hikes. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by going hiking for a few days. Easy at that. Plan a smaller trekking holiday or keep it simple by hiking your favorite route on repeat. If you are comfortable hiking for 4 hours a day, 3 days in a row while carrying a 10kg to 15kg backpack, you will be fine.
There is more you can do to get ready for your climbing Island Peak but the above basics will definitely help you on your way. You can focus on strength exercise, you can simulate altitude with altitude masks. There's a lot you can do.Check this blog post if you want to read more about getting fit for climbing Island Peak.
Island Peak Height and Altitude Sickness
Island Peak has a height of 6.189 meters and climbing it can come with altitude sickness. Symptoms of AMS start to show within a few hours after arrival at high altitude and include nausea, shortness of breath, headache and inability to exercise. An overall feeling of fatigue will take all the joy away that you were experiencing until things got bad. You may struggle to fall asleep, experience dizziness and you could be suffering from a severe headache. You may also lose your sense of coordination, have trouble walking and have a tight chest. If things progress to HAPE or HACE, you might get confused, have a shortness of breath at rest and you will likely be unable to walk at all.
The higher the altitude, the more severe your symptoms can be. If you have watched Everest the movie, you know what we are talking about. But those guys were climbing and you are, fortunately, only trekking. There is a number of scoring systems for determining altitude sickness. Guides are trained in these systems and are experienced in immediate treatment. Although many people will experience some symptoms of altitude sickness, it doesn’t have to escalate. When aware of the symptoms, you can do a lot to make sure you stay healthy at high altitude.
How Do I Prevent Altitude Sickness on an Island Peak Climb?
The following rules of thumbs can help you to prevent altitude sickness happening to you. They can also help to get the symptoms under control.
Have a full medical checkup and tell your practitioner what you are up to. Purchase medication recommended by your doctor. If you plan to be trekking with children, make sure you take their preparation just as carefully.
Become the Fittest Version of Yourself
Exercise about 3 to 6 hours a week with a backpack of 10kg to simulate an average day out in the Himalayas. Check out this blog post and find out how you can train for trekking in Nepal.
Listen to Your Body
Your body tells you when it needs rest. Listen to it carefully. Be aware of the symptoms of Altitude Sickness and talk about it. Let your friends, your guide, your porters know how you feel and press pause when your body wants you to. Don’t let things get worse.
Climb High, Sleep Low
An unwritten law for trekkers and climbers alike is to climb high but to sleep low. That’s why those mountaineers on Everest take a long time to get to the peak, they go up and down a few times before they push for the peak. They climb high, but they sleep low. That’s why you sometimes see a descent in the middle of your itinerary. This is being done to ensure you that you acclimatize carefully after having tackled elevation.
Eat Plenty and Hydrate More
Do you like food? Great. Eat as much as you can and eat even more. The same goes for drinking. No, you silly, not for alcohol. Hydration! Eat and drink as much as you can. Don’t skip a meal, even if you are not hungry.
Check What Comes Out
One way to gauge your fluid intake is to check your urine. Do you have to take a wee break more often than usual? Great. Keep up the hydration game. No? Then drink more.
Now you have a slightly better idea of what altitude sickness can mean for you. In this article you can read much more about it.
What About The Flight From Kathmandu to Lukla On The Way to Island Peak Summit?
A 25-minute flight from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) takes you to Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA), named after the famous pioneers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The airport is known to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world. That fact makes the flight particularly interesting. In the past flights were irregular and flight schedules were when the weather was rough, hard to count on. However, as more airlines are no offering flights on this exciting route, things have improved a lot compared to the days in the 90s and 00s.
Check the below video to get an impression of your upcoming flight to Lukla.
What Are The Teahouses in the Everest Region Like?
Tea houses are small hotels known as Bhatti. Them being small hotels, you can expect a certain level of comfort. Yes, you can, but just know that comfort is a relative concept. They are comfortable to the extent that you have a place to sleep and that you can enjoy home-cooked meals. That’s right, tea houses are run by local families who have opened their houses to trekkers passing by.
Because trekking in Nepal has become so popular in recent years, more and more tea houses have opened their doors and the concept has improved over the years. The more popular your route, the better the quality of your tea house is. Hence, the teahouses in the Everest Region are of good quality. Quality meaning that you can expect flush toilets, hot showers and in some cases wireless internet. The use of these amenities is at an extra charge. On popular routes, it is even likely that you will stay in a building that has been built with the sole purpose of serving as a tea house.
Read more about teahouses in Nepal here.
Island Peak Climb Packing List - What To Pack?
Your gear is your best friend while being out in the mountains. It, in fact, doesn’t matter where you are going, your equipment is key. In extreme cases, gear can make the difference between life and death. In every case, the right equipment can make the difference between you having a good time and ending up miserable. You have booked your tickets, your guide in Nepal is waiting and now you rock up with a too heavy backpack, a jacket which is not thick enough and shoes that are very likely going to give you blisters. What a waste. Pack the right gear and make more of your trip to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak.
Below we present you a basic comprehensive packing list suitable for any trek in Nepal including:
- Duffel Bag
- Rucksack with Rain Cove Daypack
- Hiking Boots
- Sandals or Shoes
- Hiking Socks
- Trekking Poles
- Inner Socks
- Thermal Baselayer
- Fleece Pullover or Jacket
- Light Weight Thermal Tops
- Waterproof Jacket
- Sports Bra for Her
- Hiking Shorts
- Hiking Pants
- Waterproof Pants
Basics for Climbing Island Peak:
- Ice axe
- Ice screws
- Snow bars - Crampons
- Tape Slings (2)
- Screwgate Karabiners (2 lock, 2 unlock)
- Descender/Abseil Device
- Plastic Mountaineering Boots
- Helmet (optional)
- Ice Hammer
The above-mentioned basics for Island Peak can be rented directly from your trekking company.
Obviously there is more you can pack and bring along. Everyone is different, so everyone has their own needs.If you want the ultimate packing list, you can simply go here.
How Do You Book an Island Peak Trek?
There are several websites where you can book your Island Peak ascent. It is important to note that cheap providers are probably not very good for their employees. The income in Nepal is relatively low and some organizations like to take advantage of this. At Bookatrekking.com we try to make a selection of providers who have everything in place, who take good care of the staff and the environment. However, they are obliged to state their lowest price on the internet. Here you can find all our offers for Island Peak climbing.
If you have any questions about the Island Peak climbing, please contact our trekking experts. They will be happy to help you! If you want to find out all you need to know about trekking in the Himalayas, don't forget to read our long-read article abouttrekking holidays in Nepal!
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