Just after the dark cloud of Boards had passed, the two of us set off on our Expedition to summit Island Peak, a mountain that had last been summited by School nearly 20 years ago. What lay ahead of us was nearly a month in the Himalayas which involved 160 kilometres of trekking, an altitude gain of nearly 13,500 feet and experiencing temperatures that dipped well below -15 centigrade. It was, in every sense, an adventure of a lifetime.
We began our journey when our plane landed at the infamous Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla. The airport is perched on the side of a hill and has a 500 meter runway which makes the landing quite a daunting experience! We began our trek from here and slowly made our way up through the scenic Dudh Kosi Valley. On the second day of our trek we started getting close to the famous Namche Bazaar. We crossed the famous Hillary Bridge after which it was a steep climb to Namche. It was here that we got our first view of Lhotse (8,500 meters), Nuptes (7,800 meters) and the fabled Mt. Everest (8,848 meters). We soon reached Namche afterwards, which is the capital of the Khumbu Region and the hub of Mountaineering Activity in the Everest Region. We stayed in Namche for 3 days as we needed a day for acclimatisation and we also taught at Shree Himalayan School, a school setup by Sir Edmund Hillary.
We left Namche and continued onwards and upwards. As we gained altitude, we left the tree line behind us and entered a landscape with scanty tundra vegetation. We soon reached the village of Dingboche where we got to see Island Peak. But before we could move towards Island Peak, we had planned to trek to Everest Base Camp and climb Kala Pathar (5,500 meters), a small peak right next to Everest. This would help us acclimatise and enable us to climb Island Peak with greater ease. So instead of going into the Imja Valley and towards Island Peak, we started making our way through the Khumbu Valley towards Everest Base Camp.
We first made our way to Gorak Shep from where we would climb Kala Pathar. The climb to Kala Pathar was quite strenuous, but we were rewarded with a great view of Everest and Lhotse. After climbing Kala Pathar, we resumed our trek towards EBC which was only a few hours away from Gorak Shep. The weather conditions had started to deteriorate and by the time we reached EBC it had started snowing heavily. We took a couple of pictures after which we took a closer look at the Khumbu Ice Fall. With the weather conditions getting worse, we decided that we should start moving down and made our way down back to Dingboche.
It was now, that we finally began our final push towards Island Peak. We trekked to Chukung where we met our climbing Sherpa’s and got all of our mountaineering equipment. We then moved forward to Island Peak Base Camp where we prepared for the climb.
We began our climb to the summit from Base Camp at 2:15 am. The sky was clear and it was a full moon, so visibility was great. The snow reflected the moonlight well and that was a boon for us and made our job of walking dead in the night much easier. For the first hour or so we trekked around to the back of the mountain from where we started climbing up. We trekked along a very steep trail all the way to the ‘Crampon Point’. It was here that the actual glacier began and that we had to wear our crampons, which are small metal spikes that give you grip on ice while climbing. We then started to traverse the glacier. We encountered a number of crevasses on the way which had been tackled by the use of ladders. We soon reached the final barrier between us and the summit. It was a near vertical face of the mountain of a height of about 150 meters. We attached ourselves to the fixed rope and began ascending slowly. This was quite a difficult task and it took us nearly an hour and a half to reach all the way to summit ridge. We than walked about 10 meters along the narrow ridge to the summit. We had finally made it. 6,189 meters. We then raised our School flag and tri-color on the summit. We sat there for about 10 minutes just admiring the view and thinking about our journey. The feeling that we had ‘conquered’ anything did not seep into us. Rather, a sense of deep satisfaction entered the both of us, a feeling not of success- the great mountaineer George Mallory rightly said, “Have we gained success? That word means nothing here.” Rather the feeling of solidarity took over. We then began our descent through heavy snow and eventually, reached Base Camp safely.
Our expedition to Island Peak was one of the fullest and best experiences of our lives and it is something we both will surely keep close to our hearts for the rest of our lives.
Very nice and bit challenging climb. Started from BC at 1.30am, on the top after less than 6 hours. Fantastic view from the top!
Nice climb. Took us about 4 hrs. from BC to the summit. Clear sky, so awesome view on the surrounding mountains. Lhotse face is impressive!
This is a great mountain with amazing views.
Got to 20000 feet (about 6100 meters) & made the decision to turn around as partner was showing early symptoms of altitude sickness.
Was trekking in Nepal and trying to figure out what to do next... Met a fellow on the summit of Kala Pataar who was en route to Island Peak. We re-connected the next day in Dingboche, and I accompanied him to Chukung, where it turns out I could rent gear, get a permit, and join a team for the climb the following day. We were the only 7 on the mountain, and all 7 of us made it to the summit together!
A little cold at BC but the weather was great at the summit. I had climbed Mera prior to Imja Tse so didn't have much trouble with the altitude. Took around 11 hours BC to BC at a leisure pace.
great view from summit
Climbed without fixed ropes or sherpa support from BC, amongst some hostility from some sherpas for doing so. Headwall was about 200m and then a short walk to the summit in a narrow ridge. I'd say that climbed free this is in the AD-/AD range. Perfect weather and not too cold.
Easy climb in perfect conditions (May 2013) with a local guide. Terrible fixed ropes (cheap plastic twisted ones that you use to tie things to a trailer) which barely caught in the jumar and horrible ancient anchors but Thankfully I didn't plunge to my death. In chukkung I set up a z pulley just for something to do and some local guides came over and stood around watching with no idea what I was doing. If safety is a big deal for you and you want to do guided climbing in Nepal go with a western agency......
Took us about 6 hours to summit from base camp starting at 1:20a. The ice ramp which now goes practically to the summit was very busy on the way down, even with three ropes. Some big crevasses in the glacier makes things interesting. Pictures
What a great experience. It took us quite a while to get up the head wall. I was surprised at how much rock scrambling there was before getting to the glacier. If I were to do it again, I think I'd rather start the summit push from high camp even though you'd have to haul your water up.
we used no ported no guides. we slept at high camp to escape the crowds, but be warned no water at high camp...
Beautiful but long day - left "base camp" at 1:30am to try to avoid the crowds. Unfortunately most everyone was en route around that time. About 50 people on summit this day and we had to sit and wait at the bottom of the headwall for awhile. Interesting in that we have relatives that climbed about 6 years ago and they barely recognized the route in the photos we shared. It appears that the crevasses after the "crampon up point" are getting bigger each year. In fact we heard that the Sagarmatha National Park officials may have to either determine another route or fix ladders across some of the bigger cracks. Will try to post a few photos soon.
From high camp to summit! A fantastic experience!
As part of a 5 week independent trek
Left base camp around 3:30am. Headwall was tough but a lot of fun (first time using an ascender). Had the summit all to ourselves and were the last people on it that day. Absolutely beautiful scenery.
Island Peak 2009
Climbed the normal route, from high camp. Unfortunately the bad weather did not allow to enjoy spectacular views.
Island Peak is becoming a bit of a circus. There were more than 70 people on the mountain, with over 30 on the summit at the same time. The climbing itself is easy and straightforward, and the headwall shouldn't require a fixed line at all - it is only 40-50 degrees and a fall would stop quickly in a snow basin that didn't seem crevassed. Gorgeous views of the Lhotse-Nuptse wall from the top.
We started our climb at 2 am after a snow storm the night before, which made navigating the first part on the rocks a little tricky. But that was the least of my problems, sadly, upon reaching 6,000 m (ok, it was actually 5,980 but rounding is ok no?) I had to retreat. I had been fighting a terrible cough (which turned out to be bronchitis)which made breathing difficult. Anyway, the climb was still beautiful (between all the dramatic huffing and puffing) and the scenery unbelievable!