How Difficult is the Island Peak Climb in Nepal

Island Peak is a stunning peak in the Himalayas to climb.  Including a climb up to 6,189m/ 20,305 feet, on top of a visit to Everest Base Camp, will surely be the highlight of any climbers career! However, there are many things to consider when you are deciding on a climb in the Himalayas.  Firstly, you must know that Island Peak is NOT a trekking Peak.  You need to come with proficient mountaineering skills to take on this climb.   Secondly, you need to make sure that you choose the right itinerary, that gives you adequate acclimatization to the low levels of oxygen.  And finally, you need ot come with excellent physical preparation to tackle this mountain.

We run approximately eight climbs per year to Island Peak and having been doing this since 2009. We have the best footage, itinerary and full time climbing Sherpa’s who fix our own ropes and manage the climbs professionally.  All our climbs are professionally guided with internationally qualified guides. Ian has personally led over 17+ climbs on Island Peak and we have the experience and knowledge on the mountain. Check out our upcoming trips.

Gain Access to our Island Peak Dossier

This is brief introduction and information on climbing Island Peak is not designed to be comprehensive in any way. If you decide to join one of our climbs, then we will send you a 40 page full Dossier on the climb. Read some REVIEWS from our trips. We are happy to set up a time to talk and to go through training plans, give full detailed kit list and explain how our Island Peak climbs run. CLICK HERE for our packing video.

Ultimately, climbing at altitude is a dangerous sport and claims many casualties each year. One of the guiding principals of mountaineering is that an individual climber takes responsibility for his or her own safety. If you cannot accept this, then this information and probably climbing in general is unlikely to suit you. Read what one of our climbers had to say about their Island Peak climb.

Where is Island Peak

Island Peak is situated in the Everest region of Nepal, on the Nepalese – Tibetan border. Island Peak is an extension of Lhotse and Everest. The ridge line drops off Lhotse and right onto the summit of Island Peak. The Imja Valley is home to amazing glaciers, running down from 8,000m high in this unique mountain valley. We have 3 Island peak climbing itineraries, however, our most popular one encompasses an Everest Base Camp trek.

Coming up through the gully 5,700m in the dark. You will be scrambling through some sections

How Do You Get to Island Peak

There is really only one gateway to Island Peak, and the Everest Region.  That is through the mountain town of Lukla, flying in on a 40 minute flight into the mountains.  We include these internal flights in the price of your trip. If you are lucky and the weather is clear during your flight, you may be able to see Everest in the distance. Island Peak however will not be in view on the flight, and you will not see it until Dingbouche on day 6 or 7 into the trek. The incredible journey through the Everest Region is a wonderful acclimatization hike before you take on Island Peak. All of our itineraries include three nights in Namche Bazaar on the way up the trail to Island Peak.

As the sun comes up on Island peak, making our way through the glacier.

How Difficult is the Island Peak Climb

Climbing Island Peak is not easy, but you can make it easier by spending more days on the trek in and on the mountain. You need to acclimatize to the lower levels of oxygen lower down on the trail. The summit statistics show that the majority of people attempting the climb are not reaching the summit of Island Peak.  If you decide to climb Island Peak on a 10 day trip, then you are making it a more dangerous and challenging endeavor. Which in turn, drastically lowers your chances of success. We go for the summit on day 14 on our itinerary.

You will be carrying a backpack with 5kg to 7kg on the trip, therefore, you need a good level of fitness, and excellent physical conditioning. Ideally, you need to be able to do multi day trekking for 4 – 6 hours on the hills with a weighted backpack building up to carrying 10/15 kg in most of your training sessions. There is a range of training you can do if you are not close to the hills and need to rely on the stair master, treadmill, bikes, jogging and weights. We can help you manage your time to get the best preparation possible with individual training programs. You also need to come competent in abseiling and with basic mountaineering skills. CLICK HERE for our top 10 tips for climbing Island Peak.

The glacier on Island peak can be challenging with ladder crossings

When is the Best Time of Year to Climb Island Peak

In our opinion, the best months to climb Island Peak are April, May, October & November.  CLICK HERE for our upcoming trips. We choose not to climb in the rainy season, or in the extreme cold which limits chances of success.

On the Summit of Island Peak

How Should You Prepare for Climbing Island Peak

This all depends on where you are starting from in terms of your fitness, trekking, altitude and climbing experience. It could take as long as a year or as little as 4-6 months to prepare depending on your experience. The key aspects of success will come down to the following:

1). Your ability to adapt to the lack of oxygen

2). Do you have the correct acclimatization on your schedule

3). Do you have multiple days for summit attempts

4). Using the high camp

5). Your technical experience, have you come with the right technical training

6). How you cope with living in a tent and down time

7). Look after your personal hygiene

8). Stay positive in a mountain environment

Be Prepared for the Adventure

You have to adapt to the new environment when in the mountains.  There are no showers, no TV, no real comforts.  You will be dealing with living in close quarters with other people, some who you may not know. Therefore, keeping your mindset in a positive light will be vitally important to success. Hill walking is he most important training you can do, and training on a stair master with weight backpack is also really important to supplement the longer hikes. You also need to be competent in abseiling using a figure if 8 device, moving between fixed lines. CONTACT US and we chat about the specific training you should be doing.

Simulating the conditions you will experience climbing on Island Peak is the most important training. Also by adding extra weight to your backpack, you will be giving excellent conditioning to the legs and body. When you get to the mountain, you carry less weight and your body should know how to cope with the pressure it is put under at altitude. Here is some specific training advice for Island peak climbs.

 

The route up and down Island Peak

Get the Right Gear

To start, you need well worn in hiking boots and proper mountaineering boots. We can recommend boots for you if you are unsure. We include all the mountaineering gear needed for the ascent. Thus, you will be provided with crampons, ice axe, harness, slings, jumar, figure of 8, carabinars, and your helmet.  You need to bring good gloves to keep your hands warm on summit night.  Your gloves need to be comfortable when climbing using ropes, carbines, adjusting figure of 8 and adjust all mountaineering equipment.

Depending on the month you climb, it can be as low as -20c/ -4F.  You will need to wear a warm hat with buff to cover your mouth. A buff keeps moisture in your mouth and keeps you from getting a dry throat, it also keeps your neck warm. You will need 4 layers for your summit bid, but could be one layer for the first couple of days on the trek into Island Peak. It can be freezing most mornings in your tent, but once the sun comes out, it will get warmer. Your down jacket is an essential piece of kit. You will wear it at night while relaxing and you will use it for your summit bid. Once you sign up to our trip, we will send you a trip Dossier, which includes a complete kit list, among other things.  Watch our Island Peak packing video.

On the summit of Island peak 20,305 feet high in the sky.

What About Food and Water

You should be drinking 4 – 5 liters per day (ABSOLUTE MUST) at altitude.  Your body dehydrates faster at altitude and you are also exercising.  Therefore, you need to keep drinking, your body is creating more red blood cells to carry oxygen faster around your body. Your blood thickens and therefore hydration plays a key part in keeping you healthy and your body working effectively at high altitude. You can use Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation,  Disprin or Asprin in your water to thin out your blood, which will help you as you move higher on the mountain.

We include all of your meals when on the trek and climb.  The food is carefully chosen on different days, depending on the exertion required. Loads of carbs, protein and necessary food to get your up and down with the fuel needed to sustain you.

The 150m drop down to the glacier on Island Peak

Do I Need a Permit and Which Route Should I Take

You need a permit to climb Island Peak.  If you are on an Ian Taylor Trekking trip, we will manage this in Kathmandu. Also, all climbers need to register in Namche and are checked again in Island Peak Base Camp. You can not roll up and climb the mountain. Ian Taylor Trekking manages all the forms, so you don’t have to worry about it.

There is really only one route to climb Island Peak.  The key is to have two nights in Island Peak Base Camp at 5,100m/ 16,732 feet, and use the High Camp at 5,500m/ 18,044 feet, before going on your summit attempt. We also have 3 nights in Namche Bazaar around 3,500m/ 11,500 feet on the trek into Everest Base Camp.  Any less than this and you run the risk of getting high altitude sickness and not making the summit. Be safe, be smart and give altitude and the mountain the respect it deserves.

Waiting for my turn to abseil down the head wall on Island Peak

How Long Will It Take To Climb Island Peak

We highly recommend you spend 13 – 14 days acclimatizing, before making a summit attempt on Island Peak. All in, this is a 3 week adventure. You can always spend more time in Kathmandu, visit Pokhara, or go white water rafting after the climb. There is plenty of sightseeing and activities to do in Nepal. Check out our Unique itinerary on our Island Peak page.

The narrow ridge below crampon point before making the steep descent to high camp on Island Peak

What Kind of Weather Conditions Will you Experience

You will experience a wide range of temperatures from +20c to –20c (-4f – 68f), depending on the month you are climbing Island Peak.  Typically, once you are climbing in April, May, late September and October, then the day time temperatures range from 0c to 15c on the trek in, and typically it is – 5c to – 10c on the summit night on Island Peak. Once the sun comes up, it gets warmer and can be warm coming down from the summit. If the weather is cloudy and windy, this will make it feel colder.  Be prepared for every type of weather when climbing Island Peak.

High on Island peak looking down high camp and straight to the base camp area 800m below

What About Altitude Sickness

Altitude is always a risk, to ensure as safe an experience as possible you need to spend as much time as possible acclimatizing. We spend 3 nights in Namche Bazaar at 3,500m/ 11,500 feet, and 2 nights in Dingbouche at 4,350m/ 14,271 feet, before heading to Everest Base Camp and Kala Phattar.  Then, we will then head towards Island peak Base Camp at 5,100m/ 16,732 feet.

You will have been up to Everest Base Camp at 5,364m/ 17,500 feet and Kala Phattar 5,645m/ 18,520 feet, before going to Island Peak. You can take Diamox on the mountain, if your doctor prescribes it, 125mg in the morning and 125mg in the afternoon. Also, you need to keep as hydrated as possible, and cover the distances as slowly as possible. You do not want to over exert yourself physically, so moving slowly each day aids in the acclimatization process.

The Golden Rules of Altitude Sickness is that if you do not feel well, you may have altitude sickness until proven otherwise.  Therefore, do not ascend further if you have symptoms of altitude sickness. If you are getting worse, then you need to descend immediately. Every year, people die of altitude sickness, and many of these deaths are preventable. If you are travelling above 8,000 feet/ 2,500m, you are at risk of altitude sickness. Read more on this.

Steep and challenging terrain as you go up and down Island Peak

Biggest Problem People Face on Island Peak

Usually people face their own fear on the mountain.  Have I done the right training, do I have the right mountain experience?  Having a positive frame of mind is so important. If you have done all the preparation and training, then you should feel confident in your own ability and your gear. Other people find it hard to adjust to camping life. It is important to get into a routine, once you get into camp, clean up change clothes, then set up your sleep bag and air mattress and get comfortable. Tackling each day at a time is a great way to focus.  Therefore, you should not look too far ahead in the climb, focus on one day at a time. You will get there.

The terrain on Island peak is not straight forward so you need to come physically prepared.

Can I Climb Island Peak

How difficult is the Island Peak climb in Nepal? Island Peak is achievable for most people if you have the technical training and you come with excellent physical conditioning. What is more important is having an excellent acclimatization schedule. We have helped a number of climbers in their 50’s and even 60’s to the summit. The summit is achievable for most people, if you put in the preparation and spend the right amount of time on the mountain.  Give yourself the best shot at reaching the summit and getting down safely.

Coming down Island peak through the gully. Steep and challenging on the way up and down.

Is There Anything else I Should Know about Island Peak

Go camping, get out and use your gear. Get outside in all sorts of weather and get training.  See a personal trainer or gym instructor if you are concerned about how to physically prepare. We can also answer any questions you may have at any stage. We are here to assist you with all questions you may have on the climb.

5,550m high on Island peak on route back to the High camp.

How Much Does it Cost to Climb Island Peak

Depending on where you are flying from in the world, the pricing will be different. You can pay anywhere from $700 – $1,800+ for flights. When it comes to your personal insurance, Helicopter evacuation, clothing, and Visa entry fee, you can spend up to $3,000.  You will need proper hiking boots, gloves, thermals, down jacket, gortex, etc., and the total cost will all depend on the amount of gear you already have. In terms of the service, the prices range from $3,800 – $7,000 depending on the service you require. We pay all our staff, support staff, chef and Guides the correct wages, and do not cut corners on our service and trips.

We want you to be successful and we are here to support you in your endeavor of climbing Island Peak. How difficult is the Island peak climb in Nepal? Call us and find out more. We can help you!

All you need to know about climbing Island peak
Island Peak
Packing for Island Peak