I have had a chance to reflect on my Himalayan adventure to climb Island Peak. It was important to take the time to fully appreciate the trip and time spend in Nepal. I have fond memories of the team members, experience and what it takes to be safe in this challenging environment.
Looking for the Best
I mean it. Having access to Ian and his information and advice was important for me and made the difference in my success. Now I will never pick another team for an adventure. After Island peak, I signed up to Kilimanjaro in 2021 for my second attempt and hope to come back to Nepal in the near future.
I am in my 40’s. I have trekked in South America, climbed Mount Tarija and volcano’s in Ecuador. In 2017 because of poor acclimatization, I failed to climb Kilimanjaro on a 6 day itinerary. After talking with Ian I understand why I failed.
Choosing Ian Taylor Trekking
Firstly, Ian Taylor Trekking have the best itinerary with rope fixing, small groups, great guides and acclimatization. Secondly, their exceptional level of detail. Finally, they had the perfect training advice which helped me be successful. I have been trekking and mountaineering for years but now I understand how a trip needs to be run.
The team in the US and Kathmandu were outstanding and it should be noted, they were always available. I would ask questions and answer would come quickly and efficiently. The support level was second to none. We were well looked after in all phases of the trip.
Being Mountain Fit
I thought I was fit for the mountains, but I certainly learned a lot from Ian’s advice. Long hikes with weight in my pack along with daily training sessions were needed. I know that now. Mountaineering is a serious endeavor and needs to be respected.
On our trip we had 8 climbers, climbing Sherpa’s and the western guide Ryan had to turn someone around in Dingbouche 14,000 feet, because they could not keep up with the group. Trust me we were not moving quickly. This person clearly hadn’t applied the information given to them, showed up under prepared and the way I view it, was willing to risk our whole trip and group safety. They openly admitted to us, that they thought it would be easy and training is overrated.
Feeling Good at Altitude
Stupid on their part but not my problem. We were monitored each day and every day as we moved higher. I really found the 3 nights in Namche to be of great value. I was tired from travelling halfway around the world from the US and needed extra days to acclimatize, rest, relax and ease my way into the trip. The guides were amazing. Our crew were dancing and singing all the time, we had more staff than other teams. The Everest Trekking team has 4 guides for 10 people and our climbing team had 4 staff along with a western guide to manage the mountaineering element of the trip.
Reaching Everest and Hiking Kala Patthar
Other than the person turned around the Dingbouche we all made it up to Everest Base Camp and everyone made the amazing journey up Kala Patthar before retreating back to Pheriche for the night. It was sad to split from our newfound Everest base camp friends but we had a mountain to climb.
I was nervous and a little tired as we are heading past Dingbouche and onto Chuckung, but I needed to mentally focus on the coming days and make sure I was ready for Island peak.
After arriving in Chuckung we had some lunch and started getting harnesses, slings, carbinars, jumar’s and all climbing equipment in place for our afternoon training. Everyone had training and practice with rappelling using a figure of 8 and ascending ropes on a jumar but it was really important to go over the moving between ropes, anchors and doing some ladder training. A few others and I were nervous about the ladder crossings, so we spent more time on this and did more ladder training the following morning before leaving for Island Peak base camp. The support, advice and coaching were what we needed to feel comfortable moving on to Island peak.
Feeling More Confident
Our team was now 7 climbers and I was comfortable with them all. Everyone was focused on the job and ready to achieve. No one had any altitude issues and I put that down to Ian’s Itinerary which was working for all of us. We had checked the weather and looked like the following evening would be high winds. The winds were high and it snowed a little so we stayed 2 nights at Island peak base camp before moving to high camp. We did some additional training on ropes and rested before making the 2 hour trek up to high camp.
Using Island Peak High Camp
Once at high camp 5,500m/ 18,000 feet some of us decided to go quartz hunting just above high camp before resting for the rest of the afternoon and evening. This was it, winds had lowered and we had been briefed on our summit attempt. We would leave at 1:30am to stay ahead of other groups leaving from base camp.
We would move for an hour then break for a few minutes and then continue in that trend. It would take about 5 to 6 hours to reach the summit and about 3 hours to make it back to the high camp. The trek and scramble were steep all the way up to the glacier and we had to manage our breathing and pace as we slowly chipped away at the elevation we needed to cover.
Steep Terrain Up and Down
The terrain was challenging but we all managed ok. The view off Island peak from crampon point was truly amazing. We were under pressure to rope up and move as it was cold. It was important to see how far we had come and the view of Ama Dablam, Amphulaptsa and other peaks high above the cloud was something to behold.
The walk across the glacier was tough at times, ladder crossings were ok as they were either up or down and we could use our hands. As the sun came up it got warmer which was nice. I remember the view of the head wall, leading to the summit as it looks a lot steeper in person. We had been clearly briefed on how to manage the head wall. Three moves or steps then take a break. Keep the heart rate low and stick to the 3 moves. This would enable us to move more efficiently.
How to Move at Altitude
It works. This minimal movement in a controlled manor worked. After an hour to Jumaring and resting we were all on the top. The Sherpa team carried and fixed our own ropes, and this gave extra safety and comfort for our team. We were the first team on the summit and only 2 small groups followed us so not so many people on the route.
Standing on the Summit
It was an amazing experience standing on the summit of Island peak. We had 20 minutes on the top and it was truly amazing, we had clear skies, minimal wind and a great team of people.
I had dreamed of standing on the top of Island peak for years and now I was there. I wasn’t sure I could do it until I stood on the top. Overcome with emotion, I cried. I did it! I stood at 20,000 feet above sea level.
Up Slow Down Fast
It was a long was down but we moved as quickly as possible reaching high camp by 11am. We packed up our gear and then made our way was to Island Peak base camp for lunch before walking the 2 hours back to Chuckung for dinner. I was tired but excited to be back in a bed.
A Great Personal Achievement
The following day we made our way back to Tengbouche for the night. Then Namche and Lukla over the coming days. What a journey, adventure and achievement. Really the success comes down to the support, itinerary, acclimatization and advice. If you are thinking about climbing Island peak without a doubt, you need the Ian Taylor Trekking team. They have managed to put together the best information, itinerary and service that sets you up success. If I were you, I would contact them today and looking no further.
John Anderton, Island Peak 2019