Locally known as Imja Tse, Island Peak is a spectacular peak amid the giants of the Himalaya.
This is the approach trek from Dingboche to Chukkung with Island Peak the centre of our attention. We then go around her southern flank, which is to the right of the peak in this photo.
About the expedition
Tucked away up the Chukkung valley this beautiful mountain does indeed look like an island which is dwarfed on both sides by the stupendous Lhotse/Nuptse South Wall to the north and Baruntse to the south. The views from the top of this mountain are truly wonderful, and all the more memorable for a spectacular airy ridge climb to the top.
If you have dreamed of climbing a technical 6000 metre Himalayan summit then this famous mountain may answer your wishes. It was actually a training peak used by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing in 1953 and the route they discovered is the same one that is used today. In fact Island Peak is still a popular training peak for clients attempting Mount Everest because a lot of the skills required – crossing crevasses with ladders, using jumars on a fixed line – are the same.
Book Island Peak Expetidion
Deposit €399 on booking.
- Expedition leader Jason Black
- Accommodation for 3 nights in Kathmandu.
- Airport transfers
- Return internal flight from Kathmandu to Lukla
- Accommodation in lodges/tea houses and tents
- Three meals per day throughout
- Sagamartha National Park Fees
- Sherpa support guides (English speaking, trained in first aid)
- Porters for personal and group gear
- Staff rescue insurance
- Group climbing gear, e.g. ropes, ice screws, tents, cooking equipment, first aid kits
- Permit and camping costs for climbing Island Peak
Costs Do Not Include:
- International flight to Kathmandu
- Meals and drinks in Kathmandu
- Trip Insurance
- Personal climbing equipment and clothing
The headwall on Island Peak that leads up to the summit ridge
What to expect
The Island Peak expedition Jason Black. The expedition is a minimum 19 days when you include days in Kathmandu and has 16 days on trek / climb. We do recommend allowing extra time for potential flight delays getting into and out of the mountains.
The gradual ascent up the Khumbu valley allows for excellent acclimatisation, which is further enhanced with a climb up Chukhung Ri (5550m) for a great view of the south wall of Lhotse.
Our main objective, Island Peak, is the final highlight of the trip and a classic 6000m peak which was climbed by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing back in 1953 as their training peak for Everest. By the time we come to climb you’ll be well acclimatised and mountain fit.
During the trip, you will learn and use many skills in safe travel on mountains at high altitude including glacier travel, scrambling and moving on mixed snow and ice terrain. The summit day on Island Peak does involve crossing a crevassed glacier using a climbing rope, negotiating some ladders across crevasses, using a jumar to ascend a fixed line, negotiating a narrow exposed ridge to the summit and then a descending returning to Island peak basecamp.
Day 1 | Elevation: 1400m
Arrive Kathmandu, Gear check and team briefing.
Rest day, sightseeing and shopping Kathmandu.
Day 3 | Elevation: 2460m | Travel Time: 4h
Flight to Lukla, walk downhill to Phakding or Jorsale along the edge of the Dudh Kosi River. Easy, busy path, surrounded by forest.
Day 4 | Elevation: 3440m | Travel Time: 4h
Uphill to Namche Bazaar which is the Sherpa capital in the heart of the Khumbu region. Nowadays there are also many equipment shops, internet, bank, post office, cafes, bars, lodges and hire shops here.
This is an acclimatisation day which you can rest or enjoy the sights and sounds of Namche.
Day 6 | Elevation: 3850m | Travel Time: 6h
Walk to Deboche which is near the famous Thyangboche Monastery.
Day 7 | Elevation: 4252m | Travel Time: 5h
A gradual gradient up to Dingboche. The path continues along the side of the valley with the river far below on your right and passing beneath the spectacular Ama Dablam. The village sits on the confluence of two valleys and has spectacular views. From here you have views of Island Peak up the Chukkung Valley.
This is another rest and acclimatisation day. You can visit the Himalayan Rescue Association to listen to the daily lecture on high altitude health, and get a check from the medical staff.
Day 9 | Elevation: 4252m | Travel Time: 5h
Trek up to the village of Chukkung and overnight in lodge.
Day 10 | Elevation: 5200m | Travel Time: 4h
Options include a trek up to Chukkung Ri for acclimatisation or camping at the lakes below the summit of Pokalde and a climb of this peak in the early morning. Or a rest day. If the weather is looking good then it may be better to go straight to Island Peak.
Day 11 | Elevation: 5900m | Travel Time: All day
Optional climb of Pokalde and back to Chukkung in the afternoon or up to Island Peak base camp.
Day 12 | Elevation: 5090m | Travel Time: 4h
Island Peak Base Camp. Camping at the lower base camp, preparation of kit, acclimatisation.
Day 13 - 14 | Elevation: 6189m | Travel Time: 12h
Summit days. Any time when the summit is completed you can head back to Chukkung.
Day 15 | Travel Time: 6h
From Chukung we trek to Namche, where we re-introduce ourselves to the comforts of the lodge and village.
Day 16 | Travel Time: 7h
Trek to Lukla and spend our final night in the mountains.
Flight to Kathmandu which is always in the morning. Celebration team meal.
Depart Kathmandu for home
On the final summit ridge with Ama Dablam in the background.
Climbing Island Peak
The expedition not only provides an enjoyable climb but also provides some of the most spectacular scenery of the Himalayas in the Khumbu region. From the village of Dingboche Island Peak is clearly seen at the top of the valley as a pyramid of ice and rock. It was named by Eric Shipton because of its resemblance to an island in a sea of ice. The mountain itself is the extension of the South Ridge of Lhotse Shar separated by a col and the ridge rising to the south from this point leads to the summit of Island Peak.
The approach route follows the Chukkung Valley to Base Camp, from which the summit is a challenging 9 to 12 hour round trip depending on conditions. The route includes circuitous rocky paths and scrambles to the snow line, followed by a section moving in rope teams across glaciated and crevassed terrain and then a 300 metre headwall to the summit ridge. The headwall is fixed with a rope to clip onto, and this extends all the way along an exposed summit ridge about 300 metres long which is narrow and precipitous but not steep (see photo below). The top itself is quite small with only enough room for maybe four or five people to stand safely.
After climbing the 300 metre headwall and ascending the exposed summit ridge, the view from the top brings the thrill of Himalayan mountaineering because of the spectacular 360-degree panorama of many of the highest mountains in the world. Seen from the summit, the giant peaks of Nuptse (7,879m), Lhotse (8,501m), Lhotse Middle Peak (8,410m) and Lhotse Shar (8,383m) make a semi-circle to the north. The views of Makalu (8475m) in the east, Baruntse and Ama Dablam in the south add to the 360 panorama.
From the village of Chukkung, it is a four hour hike to Island Peak Base Camp on easy ground. The route goes past the famous Imja Tse lake which has recently been drained a bit because of fears that warming due to climate change would cause the lake to break its banks and flood the whole valley.
Most frequent questions
- Synthetic Short Underwear (1-2 pair): non-cotton style underwear
- Lightweight Long Underwear (1-2 pair): long sleeve shirt and long pants
- Heavyweight Long Underwear (1 pair)
- Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt (1-2)
- Soft Shell Jacket: to be worn over other layers
- Soft Shell Pants: very breathable and water repellant
- Lightweight Nylon Pants
- Hard Shell Jacket with hood: waterproof and breathable shell jacket
- Hard Shell Pants: waterproof and breathable shell pants
- Heavyweight Insulated Down Jacket with hood
- Insulated Pants
- Warm Hat: synthetic or wool hat (ski hat)
- Balaclava: to protect your neck and face in high winds
- Baseball Cap or other sun hat: to shade your face/neck from the sun on a hot day
- Bandana or Buff: to protect your neck/face from the sun
- Glacier Glasses: full protection with side covers or wrap around
- Ski Goggles: to be worn in the event of high winds – (2nd pair optional)
- Lightweight Synthetic Base Layer Gloves: for wearing on warm days
- Soft Shell Gloves: to wear for moderate cold/wind
- Shell Glove with Insulated Liner: to wear for severe cold/strong wind
- Liner Socks (3 pairs)
- Wool or Synthetic Socks (3 pairs)
- Mountaineering Boots
- Hiking Boots/Shoes: comfortable boots or shoes for the trek to base camp
- Gaiters (optional)
- Booties (optional)
- Sleeping Bag: rated to at least -20°F
- Self-inflating Sleeping Pad: full length is preferred
- Closed-cell Foam Pad: to be used in conjunction with the inflating pad for warmth and comfort when sleeping
- Trekking/Climbing Backpack: approximately 35L
- Compression Stuff Sacks: for reducing the volume of the sleeping bag, down parka, etc. in your pack/duffle
- Trash Compactor Bags: to line backpack and stuff sacks as well as for separating gear
- Backpack Rain Cover (optional)
- Trekking Poles with Snow Baskets: adjustable
- Ice Axe: general mountaineering tool (65cm)
- Crampons: general mountaineering crampons
- Climbing Helmet: must be able to fit over your warm hat
- Ascender: 1 right or left-hand ascender
- “Y” Rig for ascender and safety carabiner
- Accessory Cord: 30 feet (9m) of 6mm accessory cord
- Alpine Climbing Harness: mountaineering harness, with adjustable leg loops. Not a rock-climbing “sport” harness
- Carabineers: 3 regular and 3 locking
- Belay/Rappel Device
- Headlamp: with 2 extra sets of new batteries
- Large Duffel Bags with Locks (2): for transporting gear on the mountain, no hard sides or wheels
- Travel Clothes: for days in cities and towns
- Lightweight journal, sketchbook, pencils, pen
- Currency to exchange to purchase SIM cards or merchandise in cities and towns
Additional Food Items
- Snack Food: bring a few days supply of your favorite climbing snack food such as bars, gels, nuts, beef jerky, etc. variety of salty and sweet is good
- Cup: plastic 16 oz. minimum cup or mug
- Bowl: large plastic bowl for eating dinner or breakfast
- Spoon: plastic spoon (Lexan)
- Water Bottles (2): wide mouth bottles with 1-liter capacity
- Water Bottle Parkas (2): fully insulated with zip opening
- Water Treatment
- Thermos (optional): 1 liter
- Hand and Toe Warmers
- Sunscreen: SPF 50 or better
- Lip Screen (2 sticks): SPF 30 or better
- Toiletry Bag: include toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer (2 small bottles)
- Pee Bottle: 1-liter minimum bottle for convenience at night in the tent
- Female Urination Device (FUD)
- Knife or Multi-tool (optional)
- Small Personal First-aid Kit: include athletic tape, band-aids, Ibuprofen, blister care, etc.
- Medications and Prescriptions: bring personal medications, antibiotics (Azithromycin, etc.), altitude medicine such as Diamox, etc.
- Handkerchiefs/Bandanas (optional)
- Country-appropriate power plug adapters and power transformers
- Adventure Sports Watch: such as Garmin fēnix 6
- GPS/Personal Satellite Communicator: such as Garmin inReach Mini
- Personal Power System: such as Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel and Sherpa 100AC Power Bank
- Digital Entertainment: movies, tv shows, music, books loaded on to smartphone, iPad, Kindle
- Camera: bring extra batteries, charger, and memory cards