Island Peak Nepal: Everything about Island Peak Climbing

By Sierd van der Bij

Find that one special trekking

Do you want to include an Island Peak ascent in your plans for trekking in Nepal? Good idea. Island Peak (Imja Tse) is a six-thousander with a summit that is relatively easy to climb, and due to the numerous trekking opportunities in the immediate vicinity, acclimatization is not an impossible task. An Island Peak ascent is the perfect introduction to high mountain trekking and mountaineering. Let's go through some basics in this blog post like height, weather, packing lists and the best itinerary for Island Peak climbing.

What and where is Island Peak?

Imja Tse, better known as Island Peak, is a mountain in the Sagarmatha National Park of the Himalayas in eastern Nepal. The peak was named Island Peak in 1953 by members of the British Mount Everest Expedition because from Dingboche it appears like an island in an ocean of ice. Later the peak was renamed Imja Tse in 1983, but Island Peak remains the most commonly used name. The peak is in fact an extension of the ridge coming down from the southern end of Lhotse Shar.

The southwest summit of Imja Tse was first climbed in 1953 as part of a training exercise of a British expedition that went to the summit of Mount Everest. The team that climbed Imja Tse consisted of Tenzing Norgay, Charles Evans, Alfred Gregory, Charles Wylie and seven other Sherpas. The main summit was first climbed in 1956 by Hans-Rudolf von Gunten and two unknown Sherpas, members of a Swiss team that made the second ascent of Everest and the first ascent of Lhotse.

What Is So Special About Climbing Island Peak?

If you've ever climbed Kilimanjaro, you may have wondered what it would be like to cross the 6000-meter mark. Indeed, Kilimanjaro is a five-thousander at 5,895 meters. Island Peak, at an altitude of 6,189 meters, is popular with beginners and serves as a preparation for higher mountains such as Everest. Although it is physically demanding, it requires relatively little technique and can be climbed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Of course it is not that easy. It needs a solid crash course in high altitude mountaineering, but with a good guide you can do something really special.

Do you have this adventure on your bucket list and are you curious about the possibilities? Check out all our offers here!

How Can I Combine Island Peak Climbing With A Trek?

The best way to acclimatize for an Island Peak ascent is to combine it with a trek in the Everest region. A trek to Everest Base Camp Trek is the perfect preparation for an Island Peak ascent. This allows for proper acclimatization while you can spend more time in Khumbu. A typical trek begins after a short flight to Lukla. The trails will take you to Phakding, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Sagarmatha National Park) in the green valley of Dudh Koshi and on to the famous Namche Bazaar, where we will spend two nights for acclimatization. The trekking continues from Tengboche to Pheriche and to Lobuche; these Sherpa villages rich in culture are full of chortens, mani walls, museums and fantastic views of the Himalayas.

Before the expected Island Peak you will visit the Everest Base Camp and climb to Kalapathar. Kalapathar is popular with hikers as you can enjoy a full sunrise or sunset over Mount Everest. Finally we hike to the Base Camp of Island Peak and climb the summit on day 12. The hard work is rewarded by a 360 degree panoramic view of mountains like Lhotse, Ama Dablam and Makalu. From there we hike up and down again until the exciting experience of Everest Base Camp with Island Peak Trekking ends again in Kathmandu.

Island Peak Deaths - How Dangerous is Island Peak?

There haven't been to many Island Peak Deaths in recent years. Of course, you are not as exposed on Island Peak as you are on Mount Everest and the likes. However, the few Island Peaks that have been registered were caused by altitude sickness. If you keep reading you will find a good itinerary which will allow you to acclimatize for climbing Island Peak. Also, you can read about how to prevent altitude sickness, the number one cause for trouble in the Himalaya.

Island Peak Weather - What Is The Best Season?

The Everest region, like the rest of Nepal, has 4 different seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter. The months from February to May, before the monsoon, and from October to December, after the monsoon, are the most popular for trekking tours Island Peak. Climbing Island Peak is not possible during the monsoon season. What needs to be said is that each trekking season has its own excitement and atmosphere for hikers, but if you want to have some assurance about the weather conditions during the trek, be sure to stick to the high season. You can also climb Island Peak in the winter months, but you will need to revise your packing list and prepare for temperatures well below -15 Celsius.

What Is a Good Itinerary for Climbing Island Peak?

You shouldn't climb a six-thousander with just anybody. If you are travelling from far, you will want to have a company on your side to help you with the preparation. You don't want a crash course for the actual ascent, but you want to have the opportunity to use the right climbing equipment, and with the following itinerary for climbing Island Peak by Nepal Eco Adventure you can make the most of it.


Fly to Lukla , trek to Phakding

Duration: 02:30 h
Distance: 7.3 km
Ascent: 160 m
Descent: 370 m
We’ll board a flight to Lukla (2810m). You will be able to enjoy the beauty of splendid hills, rivers and mountains during the 30 minute flight. On reaching Lukla airport, you’ll be introduced to your porter, and served a wholesome breakfast. After that, we will head north to Phakding (2620m). It is an easy 3 hour hike through the Dudhkoshi valley. We will head north from the airstrip to Chheplung (2700m) and cross the crystal clear Thadokoshi on a locally built suspension bridge. Past the bridge, you can witness KusamKanggru (6367m), which is one of the toughest mountains to conquer. Away from the ThadoKoshi, the trail continues towards the Ghat (2590m) and we will cross a ridge marked with painted Mani stones. We will reach the beautiful tribal village of Phakding where you will stay overnight.



Trek to Namche Bazaar

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 10.5 km
Ascent: 910 m
Descent: 150 m
Heading for the Namche Bazar, we cross through the hamlet of Zamphute and Tok Tok to see dazzling Thamserku glistening in the sun that stays all the way with us in most of our trek. Passing through the scenic Sherpa villages of Benkar, Chumoa and Monjo, we reach Utche Choling Gompa on a bluff abutting the Dudhkoshi river and further we make our way between the bluff to the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park, a UNESCO declared world heritage site. Completing halfway to Namche Bazar, we head for the second half of the march that would likely to take more time due to steep climb at the end. Crossing through the last village of Jorsale, a steep stepped path leads us to an amazing high bridge over the Dudhkoshi River gorge and just before this bridge, the Dudhkoshi is met by its tributary, the BhoteKoshi.

Namche Bazaar


Acclimatize at Namche Bazaar

We have an acclimatization day at Namche Bazaar. To help our body better adapt to the high altitude, we can take short walks or climb few hundred feet during the day to have a look in the villages, houses, terraced fields and snowy mountains of Kwangde, Khumbu peak, Thamserku, Kusum Kanguru and the village’s big weekly event, the Saturday market to have fun mingling with the crowds and watching men and women in traditional attire.

Namche Bazaar


Trek to Tengboche

Duration: 05:30 h
Distance: 9.5 km
Ascent: 780 m
Descent: 350 m
Our route for today to Tengboche weaves in and out of side valleys, making small ups and downs, to the picturesque tea shops of Kenjoma, and joins the trail from Khumjung just before a collection of Mani stones. The views of Everest and Ama Dablam are excellent from this part of the trek. We pass the small settlement of Sanasa from where the trail drops towards Phunkithanga (3250m). From here the trail climbs steeply through pine forests and around Mani stones as it follows the side of a hill to the saddle on which the monastery of Tengboche sits at 3870m. The view from here is rightly deemed to be one of the world’s most magnificent sceneries. Kwangde (6187m), Tawachee (6542m), Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse (8501m), Amadablam, Kantega and Thamserku provide an inspiring panorama as the Himalayan giants. We will spend the night in Tengboche.



Trek to Pheriche

Duration: 05:40 h
Distance: 11 km
Ascent: 630 m
Descent: 170 m
An easy descent through rhododendron forest and across a bridge over Imja Khola to Pangboche. The route will continue to Pheriche, for a 3-4 hour trek in total. There is a rudimentary hospital run by Himalayan Rescue Association in Pheriche. It only opens in peak seasons (March-May and November-December). We will spend the night in Pheriche.



Day trip to Nagarjun (5000m) and back to Pheriche

A 800m climb will take us to Nagarjun peak at 5000m altitude. You will enjoy some good views of the mountains including Mt. Makalu 5th highest mountain in the world. This hike usually helps with acclimatization. There are chances to see snow leopard on this 3-4 hour hike. Once you arrive there, you will admire the view from the top and descend down to Pherice.



Trek to Lobuche

Duration: 04:20 h
Distance: 7.8 km
Ascent: 620 m
Descent: 20 m
The gradual climb to Lobuche will be pleasant as we will get closer and closer to the snow clad giants. After a 45-60min hike, we will reach Thukla. There, we will make a stop for food and continue up to a flat area where several memorials dedicated to the climbers who died on Everest are erected. Then, we will climb out of the valley and descend to the yak pastures at Lobuche.



Trek to Gorak Shep (5180m) – EBC (5360m) – Ghorak Shep

Duration: 06:40 h
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 390 m
Descent: 150 m
This challenging trek day will take around 6-8 hours. From this point onwards altitude morning sickness may get bad. We therefore will have have to be extra careful. The trekking distance will be around 15km. After a wholesome breakfast, we will head to Base Camp, trekking through the rocky terrain alongside the Khumbu Glacier. Upon reaching EBC, you will have some time to enjoy the heavenly environment and take photographs. If you are trekking somewhere between March and May, you might get the chance to see all the commercial expeditions trying to reach the summit. After lunch, we will trek downhill to Gorak Shep, and spend the night at a local guest house there.

Gorak Shep


Climb Kalapathar (5400m) | Trek Down to Dingboche

Duration: 09:00 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 440 m
Descent: 1330 m
You will notice when up in the Base Camp that the Everest is not completely visible. From Gorak Shep, we will walk down, up and up again to Kalapathar. We will climb up to Kalapather either sunrise or sunset time. It will take 1.5 to 2 hours. You will have the best view of Mount Everest, Nuptse and Changtse with a little of Lhotse from here. Then we will return to Gorakshep for food and descend to Dingboche.



Trek to Chukhung

Duration: 02:00 h
Distance: 4.2 km
Ascent: 400 m
From Dingboche to Chukhung, the trek will be about 2 hour long and easy. Chukhung is a beautiful valley nestled between mountains like Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Imja Tse etc. You will appreciate a really good and close view of these mountains and their glaciers. The river Imja Khola runs past the Chukhung village where we will be lodging.



Trek to Island Peak Base Camp

Duration: 02:30 h
Distance: 6.1 km
Ascent: 350 m
Descent: 20 m
After breakfast, we will trek towards south, turn east and enter the main valley. We will walk along the stream and pass Imja and Lhotse glacier moraine before reaching the valley where we will camp in tents. From the camp you will see the southwestern face of the Imja Tse (Island Peak).

Island Peak Base Camp


Climb Island Peak | Return to Chukung

Duration: 08:15 h
Distance: 13.4 km
Ascent: 960 m
Descent: 1310 m
We will walk toward the summit aroung 01:00 to 02:00am. It will take about 2 hours to reach the High camp, then we will climb the rock gully. We will follow a ridge-line to the summit glacier and climb up a steep snow slope to reach the summit. There, you will get an excellent view of the mountains. After spending some time htere, we will go back to high camp to base camp and all the way back to Chukhung.



Buffer day

Just in case of bad weather or any health problem, we will use this day on the base camp or further down on the trail. Whenever you may needed this buffer day, you will be able to use it.



Trek back to Tengboche

Duration: 07:00 h
Distance: 17 km
Ascent: 240 m
Descent: 1120 m
From Chukhung, we will walk down towards Pangboche and take the same trail we took up to descend and then climb up again to reach Tengbochhe. After this 4-5 hour trek, we will spend the night in Tengboche.



Trek to Namche Bazaar

Duration: 05:00 h
Distance: 9.5 km
Ascent: 350 m
Descent: 780 m
From Tengboche we move towards Phunki Tenga and now descend to Sanasa and Kyangjuma and then finally to Namche Bazaar.

Namche Bazaar


Trek to Lukla

Duration: 07:00 h
Distance: 18 km
Ascent: 530 m
Descent: 1080 m
Finally we return to Lukla following the Dudhkoshi River, where the trek ends.



Fly back Kathmandu

Early morning air trip from Lukla to Kathmandu. Don’t forget to pick a seat on the right side, to see the insatiable mountains again. On reaching Kathmandu, we will be time to say goodbye! May you enjoy the rest of your journey here in Nepal.
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What Permits Do I Need For Climbing Island Peak?

For trekking to Everest Base Camp and climbing Island Peak, you need the following permits:

TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System)

This permit is important for every trekker wishing to trek in Nepal. From theAnnapurna Circuitto the trek to Poon Hill, all trekking routes require this permit. This costs NRS 2000 per person. This equals about 17 USD or 15 EUR. Alternatively, your trekking company arranges you a location permit in Lukla which costs around 20 USD.

Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit

For entering the Sagarmatha National Park, the park that is home to the Mount Everest Region, you need to obtain an entry permit. This permit costs 30 USD + government tax.

Island Peak Climbing Permit

In addition to all the above mentioned permits, your trekking company also takes care of your Island Peak climbing permit. Without a valid permit you are not allowed to climb Island Peak.

A professional guide and the logistics, accommodation, food and even equipment for your route are organized from start to end. Everything is under control when you do one of our guided tours. Check it out right here!

Training for Climbing Island Peak

If you live anywhere else other than the Himalayas, it will be hard to get your legs ready for higher altitudes. After all, it doesn’t get much higher than Nepal. This is why we have to be clear upfront: Unless you have hiked at a higher altitude before, it will be difficult to get a 100% ready for your adventure. If that sounds bad to you, then comfort yourself with the fact that there is absolutely no need to be 100% ready. You are not climbing K2 or Mount Everest and not running a mountain race. This is trekking and Island Peak is a trekking peak. You are actually supposed to take it easy. Taking it easy is a rule of thumb when you want to prevent altitude sickness while out in Nepal. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, once you are out there on the trails, you have to stick to your own pace. But of course, the fitter you are, the more you can enjoy your time. Get fit!

Should I Hike More?

One solid approach to get the hang of what you do is to rehearse. The best practice for climbing is climbing. Seeing that you are keen on a multi-day trekking experience, we accept that you enjoy walking. Awesome, do it more. If you are fortunate to be encompassed by some hills or even mountains, the time has come to see them all the more frequently. When? In the event that you are new to this, we recommend beginning a half year the start of your trek, essentially going for 60 minutes (or two) climb seven days. When you get the hang of it, after around three weeks, you will have an ideal opportunity to reinforce your power. Convey a pack of 10 to 15kg and include a more drawn out climb of three hours to your week. On the off chance that this way of life is different to you, you will before long receive the rewards of this moderate exercise.

What Are The Health Benefits of an Island Peak Trek?

Some of the health benefits of trekking and hikinginclude a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood pressure and sugar levels and of course it helps to control your weight. Once you are ready for the hills, it only gets better. According to Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, ”a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.” Our personal health benefits are a clearer mind and an elevated mood. Trekking keeps us sane. After a good few months of solid hiking, it is time to put your endurance to the test. Do back to back long hikes. You can simulate a few days of constant trekking by going hiking for a few days. Easy at that. Plan a smaller trekking holiday or keep it simple by hiking your favorite route on repeat. If you are comfortable hiking for 4 hours a day, 3 days in a row while carrying a 10kg to 15kg backpack, you will be fine.

There is more you can do to get ready for your climbing Island Peak but the above basics will definitely help you on your way. You can focus on strength exercise, you can simulate altitude with altitude masks. There's a lot you can do. Check this blog post if you want to read more about getting fit for climbing Island Peak.

How to identify and prevent AMS on the Island Peak trek?

Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the health effect that kicks in when exposed to low amounts of oxygen at high altitudes. It is a thing and it must be taken seriously when visiting high altitude destinations. Its dangers should not be taken lightly, they can ruin your trip or, in the most extreme scenario, even kill you. Although many people will experience some symptoms of altitude sickness, it doesn’t have to escalate when you are aware of them and you can have them under control. AMS can occur when trekking the Island Peak trek so here below you can find some relevant information related to it:

  • AMS symptoms

    It is key to know how to identify altitude illness so here is a series of symptoms that you may experience due to the lack of oxygen in your body: headaches, lack of appetite, breathing difficulties, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and vomiting. The intensity and severity of these symptoms may increase with altitude but an overall feeling of fatigue will take all your joy away. At intermediate altitudes (1,500 to 2,500 masl / 5,000 to 8,200 fasl) it is unlikely but possible. However, ascending to heights greater than 2,500 m / 8,200 fasl can trigger them and you may lose your sense of coordination. If things progress to HAPE (High-altitude pulmonary edema: it produces excess fluid in the lungs, causing weakness and breathlessness, making you feel like you're suffocating, even when resting) or HACE (High-altitude cerebral edema: involving excess fluid on the brain, causing brain swelling), you might get confused and be unable to walk at all.

    Once aware of the symptoms, you can do a lot to make sure you stay healthy. That is why for trekking in high-altitude destinations, you should always inform yourself about how to prevent the risks of AMS. Our experts, based on their previous experiences, wrote down a few rules of thumb that apply while trekking at altitude:

    • Listen to your body

      When your body needs rest, your body will tell you, listen carefully. Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and let your friends, your guide or your porters know how you feel. There are several scoring systems for determining AMS and guides are well-trained and are experienced in immediate treatment. Don't let that get worse and take a break. FYI, it normally takes from 6 to 24 hours before you start feeling altitude sickness symptoms. However, acute AMS can arise after having spent at least 4 hours at an altitude above 2,000 m / 6,500 ft.

    • Eat as much as you can

      Don’t skip your meals, even if you don’t like what you have on your plate. But, believe us, you will enjoy the local food. Your body works hard and needs a lot of carbohydrates to make more distance and to be able to bridge more altitude. Trekking is hard work and can easily burn more than 4,000 calories a day. Eat, and your body will thank you.

    • Avoid alcohol intake

      Let's be clear, alcohol stimulates mountain sickness and that’s not just because alcohol dehydrates you. However, if you drink alcohol, you may also be able to do so during your hike. In some destinations, some trekking companies make it a ritual once you reach a particular stage of the route. Be careful though, it won’t help your acclimatization and you will have to increase your water intake. This is even more common when it’s hot and you’re sweating. At high altitudes you need to be disciplined so drink 3 to 5 liters of water per day and some tea as well. You’re hiking, not partying, so leave (most of) the alcohol for after the trip.

    • Check what comes out

      One way to measure your fluid intake is to check your urine. Do you have to take a wee break more often than usual? Great. Keep up the hydration game. Not really? Then drink more.

    • Choose a longer itinerary

      Our trekking experts are well aware of the hazards of Altitude Sickness and they know that you shouldn’t rush your way up. You can do a trek in fewer days but it will not only make you enjoy your hike less, but it will also be detrimental to your acclimatization. AMS is mainly caused by a rapid increase in altitude, so the faster you ascend, the greater the risk. Try to choose a longer route to make the most of your tour. Longer is always better.

    • Climb high, sleep low

      An unwritten law for trekkers and climbers: at high altitudes, mountaineers may take longer to get to the peak because they go up and down a few times before reaching the top. If you see a descent in the middle of your itinerary it is to ensure that you acclimatize carefully after having tackled elevation. Therefore, if you climb to a certain altitude in one day and you stay there, your body may have difficulties adapting. But if you descend as well, the chances of getting altitude sickness are significantly lower. The many ascending and descending causes the body to acclimatize. That means that the following day will be relatively easier to stay at a higher altitude.

What About The Flight From Kathmandu to Lukla On The Way to Island Peak Summit?

A 25-minute flight from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) takes you to Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA), named after the famous pioneers Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The airport is known to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world. That fact makes the flight particularly interesting. In the past flights were irregular and flight schedules were when the weather was rough, hard to count on. However, as more airlines are no offering flights on this exciting route, things have improved a lot compared to the days in the 90s and 00s.

What Are The Teahouses in the Everest Region Like?

Tea houses are small hotels known as Bhatti. Them being small hotels, you can expect a certain level of comfort. Yes, you can, but just know that comfort is a relative concept. They are comfortable to the extent that you have a place to sleep and that you can enjoy home-cooked meals. That’s right, tea houses are run by local families who have opened their houses to trekkers passing by.

Because trekking in Nepal has become so popular in recent years, more and more tea houses have opened their doors and the concept has improved over the years. The more popular your route, the better the quality of your tea house is. Hence, the teahouses in the Everest Region are of good quality. Quality meaning that you can expect flush toilets, hot showers and in some cases wireless internet. The use of these amenities is at an extra charge. On popular routes, it is even likely that you will stay in a building that has been built with the sole purpose of serving as a tea house.

Island Peak Climb Packing List - What To Pack?

Your gear is your best friend while being out in the mountains. It, in fact, doesn’t matter where you are going, your equipment is key. In extreme cases, gear can make the difference between life and death. In every case, the right equipment can make the difference between you having a good time and ending up miserable. You have booked your tickets, your guide in Nepal is waiting and now you rock up with a too heavy backpack, a jacket which is not thick enough and shoes that are very likely going to give you blisters. What a waste. Pack the right gear and make more of your trip to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak.

Below we present you a basic comprehensive packing list suitable for any trek in Nepal including:


- Duffel Bag

- Rucksack with Rain Cove Daypack

- Hiking Boots

- Sandals or Shoes

- Hiking Socks

- Trekking Poles

- Inner Socks

- Thermal Baselayer

- T-Shirts

- Fleece Pullover or Jacket

- Light Weight Thermal Tops

- Waterproof Jacket

- Sports Bra for Her

- Hiking Shorts

- Hiking Pants

- Waterproof Pants

Basics for Climbing Mera Peak:

- Ice axe

- Ice screws

- Snow bars - Crampons

- Harness

- Tape Slings (2)

- Screwgate Karabiners (2 lock, 2 unlock)

- Descender/Abseil Device

- Plastic Mountaineering Boots

- Ascender

- Helmet (optional)

- Ice Hammer

The above-mentioned basics for Mera Peak can be rented directly from your trekking company.

Obviously there is more you can pack and bring along. Everyone is different, so everyone has their own needs. If you want the ultimate packing list, you can simply go here.

Where Can I Book the Island Peak trek?

At you can book this trek and many others. Our guided options come with experts on the ground, and offer you a convenient, stress-free, safe, and educational way to explore the outdoors. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is this not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our blog posts:

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