How Should I be Training to Climb Island Peak

If you are signed up to or considering to join a climb of Island Peak, then it is time to start focusing on training! Island Peak is NOT a trekking peak and you need to give this mountain the respect it deserves.  Previous technical climbing experience is essential before taking on this 6,189m/ 20,305 feet Himalayan peak.

Take Your Training Seriously

We take the climb of Island Peak seriously and you should too.  There are a range of factors that will determine your success. Firstly, you need an itinerary with plenty of acclimatization using Island Peak High Camp. Secondly, you need to develop a training plan relevant to the specific elements of the trip. Finally, make sure you understand the specific Himalayan style, fixed line climbing techniques needed to be safe high on the glacier.

We want to make sure our clients come to Nepal with the right physical and technical preparations.  Watch the videos below and then GET IN TOUCH for more information on this stunning climb.  Check out or upcoming trips to find the dates for an Island Peak trip for you.

Training for Island Peak

When you watch the video above and below, does this climb look straight forward to you? No!  You will be climbing on steep terrain on rock, snow and ice.  You will face the steep Head Wall, from 6,050m/ 19,849 feet to 6,189m/ 20,305 feet. All of this will be done while carrying a backpack, in possibly cold or warm temperatures, with 50% less oxygen getting to your muscles. From Island Peak Base Camp at 5,100m/ 16,732 feet to the summit is steep terrain at high altitude. That is why we use the High Camp on Island Peak at 5,500m/ 18,045 feet.

Prior Mountaineering Training is Essential

When preparing for the Head Wall, you need to find 60 to 70 degree angle terrain. Have a guide set up ropes with 4 to 5 different anchor points. You will have a jumar on a sling or cows tail attached to your harness. You should also have a sling (safety line) with carabiner on the end of the sling. The carabiner should be able to go above the Jumar on the fixed line. You do not want the Jumar going higher than your nose when fully tight. We do run this training in Colorado and Scotland.

The key mountaineering training should be for going down the Head Wall. You will want your safety line with carabiner on the fixed line. The safety device should be kept above the figure of 8 (descending device) as you abseil down. You need to be comfortable abseiling using a figure of 8 device, and learning to flip the figure of 8 over once you reach each anchor point. You need to make sure your safety line is tight as you find the next abseil. Once you have found the rope and you are safe with the figure of 8 to abseil, then, and only then, do you take the safety line from above the anchor point and place on the rope you are abseiling on. This training is important for your safety!!

Ladder Crossings

Over the years, the glacier on Island Peak has changed and even opened up in places. Some seasons, there have been up to 4 different sections of ladder crossings. In recent years, there have even been 4 ladders, roped together, to cross open crevasses or to climb up or down steep sections. These can be up to 20 feet long. Some seasons however, there are no crossings. This is mountaineering, you have to be prepared for all eventualities.

If possible, do some ladder training before the trip. We offer training courses in Scotland or Colorado, to help you learn these skills and to become more comfortable with these conditions. On all Ian Taylor Trekking trips, we do training for ladder crossings in Chukung, before going on Island Peak Base Camp. However, the more of this type of training you can do before going to Nepal, the more comfortable and confident you will be.

The Trekking Portion of the Trip

We have a few different options when climbing Island Peak, however, our most popular option includes a trek in to Everest Base Camp. Therefore, you will trek into Everest Base Camp and climb Kala Patthar at 5,645m/ 18,520 feet, over 9 days.  Each day will be spent walking 5 to 8 hours per day as part of the acclimatization schedule. You will gain additional conditioning by doing this trek in, and with our excellent acclimatization program you will gain the acclimatization in the right way.

The Head-Wall on Island Peak

Endurance Training

In order to be able to walk up and down hills, 18 days in a row, you need to improve your stamina and endurance training. You need endurance training in your routine to fight fatigue in your muscles which will be critical high on Island Peak, when you have to walk distances at altitude on a multi-day basis. Endurance training contributes greatly to your overall health, giving energy, improved heart function and increased metabolism.

Building your endurance training can be done by gradually increasing time to your cardiovascular training sessions. For instance, before you go you should be training for and hour and a half per day, four to five days a week. This should be done while trying to keep a consistent heart rate in your endurance zone. This should be done with weight. Likewise, you will want to include a longer session or hike once a week, spending up to 6 hours hiking up and down hills, further building your strength and endurance.  However, it is not a one size fits all type of training and it may be different for each person. Do a fitness test so you can be more efficient in your training and preparation.  We are available to help you get the right training for Island Peak.

The Steep Head-Wall reaching the Summit of Island Peak

Built Your Training up Over Time

Depending on where you are starting from in your training, it will dictate your routine.  Ideally, you should be looking to increase your training sessions from 30 minutes to 50 minutes to 90 minutes over a 12 to 20 week period.  This training needs to be done four to five times a week, plus one longer day at the weekend.  On your longer day, you should be looking to go for a longer endurance session building from 3 to 6 hours of hiking, which will help you prepare for multi-day trips. While on these longer hikes, you need to take plenty of breaks, drink plenty of water (3 liter minimum) and bring some snacks, all while carrying a heavy backpack.

Longer Training Sessions

To further build endurance, and after a month of initial training where you have been doing 3 to 4 hours in the gym and 3 hour hikes, you need to add more time and days training. Limit rest days and try and add multi-day trekking. You should be building to 5 to 6 days a week. As your strength and conditioning progresses, after 2 to 3 months, you should be adding more weight into your backpack and increase the length of each training session. Also consider adding in stretching before and after each session. Flexibility is an important element in your training.

Weight Training

Training every part of your body is extremely important for Island Peak. You need core stability training for excellent balance, super leg strength and overall body conditioning. You will be gaining conditioning from carrying a backpack with weight in it for hours each week. Also, you need to supplement this with a specific weight training plan including core, lower body, and upper body. We are always happy to chat and go through exercises that will help build specific strength for Island Peak. CONTACT US.

You should consider doing squats, dead lifts, calf raise, single leg squats, leg presses, lat pull down, arm curls and shoulder pushes. You can also consider doing a wide range of other exercises and happy to explore all these with you directly. After 2 months of of endurance training you should be looking to add 1 to 2 weight training sessions per week to your schedule.

Interval Training

After you have built your fitness up and you can hike for 4 to 5 hours, with a weighted backpack, along with training 3-5 times a week, then you can consider adding interval training into your schedule. Interval training can be done in a range of ways. Ideally, you warm up first for 10 – 15 minutes. Then, you are looking to push high heart rates for 60 seconds, and then completely rest for for 60 seconds.  After the 60 second rest, then you will want to do it over again and again!  All of this should be done while pushing close to your maximum heart rate. When starting this training, you will want to try to maintain this for 25 minutes. You should be looking to increase this up to 45 minutes in one session per week.

This type of training can be achieved on the side of a hill, treadmill, running track or in a spin-class, for example. We can talk more about this as needed. Read some REVIEWS from our trips.

Climbing Experience

If you are signing up to one of our Island Peak climbs, we demand that you join a winter skills course or course dedicated to the specific training needed for Island Peak. We have specific courses available in Scotland and Colorado. It is critical to be able to abseil using a figure of 8 device on fixed lines.  Also, you need to be able to move efficiently from one abseil to the next, all while on a 60 to 70 degree angle. This is critical for your safety and the safety of our staff and other team members. Do not come under prepared in this area or we will have to turn you around. The overall safety of our team will be at the heart of decision making on the mountain.

Get in Touch Today

Island Peak is a highly under estimated peak.  Don’t let this happen to you!  You need to come fully prepared for the climb and we can help you understand the challenges high on the mountain.  Feel free to get in touch at any stage for more information or to join one of our trips on Island Peak!

READ MORE about specific training required for climbing Island peak. READ OUR Top Tips to help you prepare for your Island peak climb.

Specific Training for Island Peak
All you Need to Know About Climbing Island Peak
Top 10 Tips for Climbing Island Peak