Island Peak, also known as Imja Tse, is in the upper Everest region, lying virtually in the shadow of Everest and the dominating Lhotse and Nuptse walls. The mountain was named ‘Island Peak’ due to its striking location in the middle of the Chhukung valley, like an island on a sea of ice. It was renamed ‘Imja Tse’ in the early 80s, but its original name is still more popular.
Technically, it is a slightly more difficult climb than Mera Peak, although lower in altitude. This trek also incorporates Everest Base Camp and Kala Patar as part of the acclimatization process. Most accommodation on this trip is lodge based, but we will need to camp at Island Peak base camp and beyond.
After exploring Kathmandu, we fly to Lukla and commence trekking up the popular well-worn trail towards Namche Bazaar. Ascending gradually, with rest days to help us acclimatize, we take in the beautiful and serene Thyangboche Monastery, with picture-postcard views of the Everest massif and Ama Dablam. Continuing, we reach Dingboche, Lobuche and Gorek Shep. We visit the historical site of Everest Base Camp, and scale Kala Patar(5545m) for more brilliant views of Everest and her surrounding peaks.
By now well acclimatized, we drop back down to Dingboche and then proceed in an easterly direction along the Chukhung valley. Our last lodge is at the Chukhung seasonal settlement; from here it is a 3 hour walk to Island Peak Base Camp (5090m), where we set up our tents. A day’s instruction on climbing techniques will be given either at Chukhung or Base Camp.
The ascent to high camp (5700m) is steep and dusty but not particularly difficult. We retire early that night, and start for the summit by torchlight around 4am. The first leg involves climbing a rocky section over boulders, until we reach the snow slopes.
Donning appropriate gear (crampons, harness etc) and using fixed ropes where necessary, we traverse the crevassed glacier, coming to a steep snow and ice ramp towards the end requiring the use of prussics or jumars to ascend. Finally there is a ridge-line to walk, to reach the summit.
Our reward is tremendous sense of achievement as we survey a breathtaking view: Lhotse Shar(8400m); Makalu(8463m) in the east; Baruntse(7201m); Ama Dablam, Thamserku & Tawoche in the southeast; and a stunning close-up of the of Lhotse and Nuptse rockwall (the longest rock face in the world).
On return we retrace our steps back to Lukla. We spend an evening of celebration with our Sherpa crew, before flying back to Kathmandu.