OverviewThe information below comes from my own personal experience, and from the books that you can find linked to this page. See the routes section for a description of the main route to the summit, or to add your own route.
This is a "Trekking Peak" in the Everest region of Nepal. It is a great first himalayan peak. The route to the summit includes a steep slope and a narrow ridge. Crampons, Ice-axe and ropes are necessary, and it is useful to have a sherpa guide who knows the best part of the ridge to climb. The term "trekking peak" can be misleading as in fact most of 14 or so mountains given this title by the Nepalese government are proper mountaineering propositions.
Eric Shipton's party of 1952 named the mountain Island Peak. In 1983 it was renamed Imja Tse, but even the locals still call it Island Peak.
The mountain was first climbed in 1953 by a team in preparation for the ascent of Everest. Today it is still used by many to prepare for everest or other high peaks in the region. When I climbed it there was a polish expedition who were preparing for Ama Dablam. They never reached the summit of Imja Tse - I wonder if they made it up Ama Dablan!
From Dingboche the mountain doesn't look too impressive, it looks very small next to one of the largest mountain faces in the world: the South Face of Lhotse. However, on close inspection it reveals itself to be an interesting and attractive summit with a highly glaciated West Face rising from the Lhotse Glacier. It has a classically beautiful ridge leading to the summit. The continuation of this ridge, descending south-west, provides part of the normal route of ascent and leads in turn to the South Summit, seen capping the rocky west facet of the mountain when viewed from near Chhukhung.
As well as providing an enjoyable climb the peak also provides some of the most striking scenery in the Khumbu. If the peak can be likened to an island in a glacial sea, then the mainland forms a semicircle of cliffs that rise in the north to the rugged summits of Nuptse (7,879m) Lhotse (8,501m), Lhotse Middle Peak (8,410m), as yet still unclimbed and Lhotse Shar (8,383m). To the east, rising above the frozen waves of the Lhotse Shar Glacier, is Cho Polu (6,734m). beyond which can be seen the red granite mass of Makalu (8,475m). The most impressive view for me, was that of Ama Dablan (click here to see photo).
I climbed it straight after Pokalde which is a day's walk away - have a look at that page too - it is a good peak to acclimatise on.
Getting ThereFly to Kathmandu (Nepal's Capital) and then walk to Namche Bazaar from the trail head or fly to Lukla (a small air strip high in the mountains, a day's walk from Namche Bazaar.)
You leave the Everest Base Camp Trek at Dingboche and walk up to Chhukung. Then a base camp and/or an advanced base camp can be established between 5300 and 5600 m. I made a base camp at the bottom, near the glacier, and a high camp at 5600m. There are a number of places to pitch a tent below the snowline. See (routes section for more details of the normal route (SE Flank. SW Ridge)
Some people do the climb in a 2 week round trip from Kathmandu. this is probably a lttle rushed for proper acclimatisation. I took 4 weeks to climb this peak and Pokalde, as part of a long trek around the whole area. I hired a guide for 4 days to climb this peak and nearby Pokalde and we met him and our porter at the bottom of Pokalde after doing the walk in on our own. Guides should be hired in Kathmandu .
A note on the Maoist insurgency: check the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website or some other governmental site for the current situation. As far as I gather the Maoists do tend to charge a "tax" on tourists in some rural areas. A SummitPost member has added some useful tips from his recent trip - to read them click on the "more info" link at the top of this section.
Red TapeYou need to get a trekking peak permit and this costs around US$300. The rules constantly change but it is easy to get the permit on arrival in Kathmandu.
Jamie McGuiness, author of a very good trekking guide to the region, has some info about permits on his web site.
There are several organizations dedicated to helping the Sherpa community. Here are just two. Should you wish to contribute to this worthwhile cause contact either of the following organizations though the information below.
The Sir Edmond Hillary Foundation
222 Jarvis Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The American Himalayan Foundation
909 Montgomery Street, suite 400
San Francisco CA 94133
Telephone (415) 288-7245
Fax (415) 434-3130
When To ClimbApril-May or Oct-Nov are the best times. I climbed in mid- September and I was lucky to get to the top as the weather is usually not favourable this early in the post-monsoon period.
CampingOn the walk in that takes as long as 10 days if you chose not to fly, it is best to sleep in mountain huts/ lodges. These are fun and it contributes to the local economy.
At the mountain there is a recognised base camp which is comfortable. This is known as Pareshaya Gyab and lies at 5000m in the area between the mountain and the glacier. It is useful to have a guide to get you here from chuckung because you have to get across the glacier - it is not dangerous, but if you do not know the way it would take you hours to walk around the cravasses.
There are also some good spots for a high camp between 5500m and 5600m. Water is a problem here though. See route section for details. There is water at the base camp - someone has put in a pipe from a source above.
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