29 Oct 2023 Peak Climbing Nepal
Island Peak which is also known as ‘Imja Tse’ is at an elevation of 6,189 meters (20,305 feet) and is one of the most mystical and popular climbing peaks in the northeastern part of the Himalayas. Used for training by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Noragay Sherpa during their 1953 Everest expedition, since then it has become a popular practice peak for climbers who are on their journey to scale the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest (8,849 meters) or expedition of the other highest peaks in the world.
As this magnificent mountain in the Imja Khola Valley is considered a practice peak for beginner mountaineers, you might be wondering how difficult this expedition will be. Although it is considered a training peak for beginners, Island Peak difficulty is at a ‘Moderately Difficult’ level.
Climbers need to have mountaineering skills and should be proficient at using various tools for Island Peak climbing. This iconic expedition is best suited for novice climbers who want to experience the technical slopes of the mountain which are slightly more advanced than the regular trekking peaks to prepare efficiently for the scaling of the highest peaks in the world.
Island Peak Difficulty- Technical Segments
The Island Peak difficulty has been graded at the ‘2B’ level in the Alpine Grading System. Even though it is among the practice peaks recommended for beginners, it is still not a trekking peak that can be scaled without using mountaineering tools.
Climbers are required to have an adequate level of understanding of mountaineering techniques and should be adept at using various tools like ice axes, crampons, harnesses, climbing ropes, snow bars, ice screws, etc. Despite being listed among the other practice peaks in the Himalayas, Island Peak difficulty comes pretty close to the expeditions of the 8,000-meter class mountain.
On this beautiful Himalayan peak, the climbers will be able to understand the true essence of a mountain expedition. Not only the climbers will come face-to-face with the alpine environment with slipper ice and snow segments but will also get the opportunity to practice mountaineering skills to overcome the technical segment on the mountain.
Although it is one of the most challenging expeditions among the practice peak, novice climbers with adequate skills will be able to easily handle the challenges thrown their way. Even though the technical segments on the mountain offer a similar level of challenges to the high mountain expedition, it is still at the 6,000-meter class. Thus, the novice climbers will have a better understanding of the difficulty they will be facing on a larger scale during the 8,000-meter class expeditions.
The summit day of the mountain is considered one of the most challenging parts of the overall Island Peak difficulty. Climbers have to overcome approximately 9-10 hours of summit push during this day and overcome vertical ice walls. The expeditioners also have to use anchors on the fixed rope to move from one point to another making it the most technically demanding day of the entire expedition.
Overall Difficulty Level Breakdown
Although the Island Peak difficulty is at a moderately difficult level, it is difficult to precisely assess the overall difficulty level. For instance, some might find it harder to acclimatize at the rising altitude, meanwhile, others might have difficulty with the trekker period and the cold alpine environment.
So, the significant part of the difficulty factors depends on the natural abilities of the climbers as well as the efforts they put into their training and preparation. Let’s break down some of the major Island Peak difficulty factors that you have to deal with during your expedition.
As this is an alpine adventure to scale the summit of the 6,000-meter class mountain in the Himalayas, altitude sickness is one of the major difficulty factors of this adventure. As there are risks for the human body to catch altitude sickness above the altitude of 2,500 meters, you have to be careful during high-altitude trekking adventures.
However, Island Peak Climbing is an actual scaling adventure, so the climbers have to spend a significant amount of time in the alpine environment where acclimatizing is more difficult than on land. Thus, climbers are more vulnerable to different types of altitude sickness like Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), and more severe forms of altitude sickness like High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).
Starting your adventure at Lukla (2,860 meters), you will overcome the high altitude jump points like Namche (3,445 meters), Tyangboche (3,975 meters), Dingboche (4,360 meters) and summit of Island Peak (6,189 meters). So, the elevation gain in this mountain expedition can be a challenging factor if you are not well prepared to counter it.
After altitude gain, another contributing factor to the Island Peak difficulty is the route of this expedition. Starting from the remote rugged route of the Himalayas you will venture on the ice and snow segments on the mountain slope. During the trekking adventure, you will trek approximately 10 km to 14 km during each day of your trek, so you will be walking for about 5- 6 hours every day on average.
It may not seem like a big deal considering the distance and trekking hours, but traversing across remote rugged landscapes in rising altitudes isn’t an easy feat. Furthermore, once you start scaling the snow and ice segment of the mountain, overcoming the route difficulty is even more challenging. During the summit day, the most demanding part of the entire expedition, you will continuously have scale for 8- 9 hours on snow and ice segments of the mountain, of course overcoming the technical part using different mountaineering tools.
Although the peak seasons are the most favorable period for any kind of high-altitude adventure in Nepal, the climatic conditions of the high Himalayas can be unpredictable at times. It doesn’t take much time for the situation to turn worse from bad, so as a climber, you will have to be prepared for whatever the mountain throws your way.
High winds, blizzards, avalanches, and wide crevasses are some of the outcomes of the unpredictable climatic conditions in the Himlayan region. Furthermore, the change in climate has also seen an increase in the number of natural calamities during mountain expeditions in recent years. If you decide to do this expedition during the off-seasons like winter or monsoon, the bad climatic conditions can elevate your overall Island Peak difficulty.
Island Peak Climbing is a Himlayan expedition that takes place in a remote and secluded part of the country. Despite being one of the most amazing prospects of Himlayan climbing, the remoteness part of this expedition is inevitable. As a climber, you have to overcome the remoteness factor from your trekking route to scaling the icy slope of this beautiful mountain.
Due to the lack of proper transportation modes in the Himalayan region, this region hasn’t seen much development. The teahouses along the trail offer moderate levels of food and accommodation facilities, however, the medical facilities in the area are limited. Thus, in case of any medical emergency, helicopter rescue is the only viable option in the region.
The same goes for other services and amenities, electricity, internet, and other telecommunication mediums are limited to the lower region, and the higher regions are dependent on solar power. So, it would be folly to expect luxurious services and amenities during this expedition, and if comfort and luxury are your best friends, adjusting to the available services and amenities can be your major Island Peak difficulty factor.
If you have previous mountain expedition experience or have done any kind of high-altitude adventure, then you understand the significance of the acclimatization days in your adventure. It is recommended that you should not climb over the altitude of 500 meters in a single day’s adventure and you should have at least one acclimatization day after gaining more than 1,000 meters in altitude.
These recommendations are essential in any kind of high-altitude adventure as they help your body to properly adapt to the rising altitude. However, when it comes to alpine environment acclimatizing is much more complicated, so you will need enough time to properly settle in at the altitude without putting your life at risk.
You can take it as ‘the more acclimatization days you get, the more comfortable your experience and overall higher success rate of your expedition’. The lower number of acclimatization days in your expedition puts more strain on your body and scaling the mountain without proper rest also puts you in danger of altitude sickness and other non-AMS-related illnesses.
In case you missed it:
- Island Peak Climbing Cost
- How to Prepare for Island Peak Climbing?
- Can Beginners Climb Island Peak?
- How Tall is Island Peak?
How to Minimize Island Peak Difficulty?
Although the Island Peak difficulty is challenging like any other high-altitude adventure, it doesn’t mean that it is invincible. With the right amount of preparation and precautionary methods, you can easily minimize the overall difficulty level for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
As Island Peak Climbing is a physically demanding expedition, you have to train adequately to minimize the overall difficulty level of difficulty. With enough physical preparation, you will be able to easily overcome the route difficulty and minimize the risk of altitude sickness. You can divide the training program into two categories, one for the trekking part of the expedition and another for the scaling the mountain.
You can polish your mountaineering skills and techniques for the climbing part and practice on the natural landscapes with steep sections carrying your backpack for the trekking adventure. Regardless, of your physical prowess is very crucial for both land and snow adventure, it is recommended that you should start your preparation 3- 4 months prior to your expedition to minimize the Island Peak difficulty.
You can determine the period of training after properly assessing your physical abilities, here are some exercises that you can include in your physical preparation.
Strength and Endurance Exercises
These exercises help you enhance your physical abilities so you have a comfortable experience without straining your body during the Island Peak expedition.
- Pull up
- Push up
- Bicep curl
- Bench press
- Calf raise
- Overhead press
- Dumbell row
- Face pull
- Leg press
- Step up
These exercises improve the overall oxygen delivery capabilities of your body to your muscles and also help you to acclimatize properly at rising altitudes.
- Jumping ropes
- Power walking
- Jumping jack
- High knees
As the physical preparation is a crucial component to minimizing the Island Peak difficulty, you shouldn’t overlook the mental preparation part, which is equally important. Every climber knows the risks and challenges in mountain climbing and how important it is to stay calm and collected regardless of the situation you have to face during your expedition.
You will have to constantly stay positive and determined to complete this expedition regardless of the obstacles you face. As this is a Himalayan expedition, you will also have to deal with the remoteness part of this adventure, the amenities, and services which are definitely not on par with the luxurious destination can be a major downer if you have high expectations.
So, it is very crucial to visualize the overall expedition, what you can expect, and the discomforts you may have to face during your adventure. This way you won’t be demotivated or disappointed during the actual adventure, here are a few tips to prepare mentally to overcome the Island Peak difficulty.
- Practice controlled breathing to stay composed in any kind of situation
- Stay positive consistently
- Lower you expectation
- Practice stress-reducing exercises
- Stay focused and determined
- Identify your fears and work on them
- Initiate positive self-talk
- Visualize your journey
Pick the Right Season
For the best value experience and to minimize a significant portion of the Island Peak difficulty, it is important that you pick the right season for your adventure. This way, you will be able to enjoy stable climatic conditions and a memorable journey without tackling the obstacles of the off-seasons.
Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are the most suitable season for Island Peak climbing. The temperature of the region is on the warmed side with stable climatic conditions and dry trails on the trekking parts. Even if spring and autumn are the primary contenders for the best value experience both of the seasons have their own unique speciality to charm the visitors.
The spring season, the blooming season, welcomes the guest with its charming trails decorated with colorful wildflowers. Entire Himlayan region is brimming with life during this season and is the perfect time to explore the natural beauty of the region, its diverse wildlife, birdlife, and vegetation. Temperature of the region is approximately around 15° C to 22° C during the spring season in the daytime and the night temperature can drop up to -5° C.
Similarly, autumn, which is another peak season for this iconic Himlayan expedition is known for fresh landscapes washed by the monsoon rain, dry walking trails, moderate temperatures perfect for outdoor adventures, and just phenomenal views of the unobstructed Himlayan vistas. Temperature of the Island Peak region averages around 14° C to 20 ° C during this season, during the late autumn you can expect light snowfall in the higher region as the winter closes in.
Get the Right Package
To reduce the Island Peak difficulty and to enjoy a comfortable and gratifying experience, it is necessary to pick the right package for the expedition. Just because you find a cheap package doesn’t mean that experience will be remarkable, so it is necessary to find the right package without compromising on the quality.
It is also necessary to make sure that your climbing package has enough acclimatization and rest days so you don’t end up exerting your body with an elongated long adventure. We here at Peak Climbing Nepal offer 15-Day Island Peak Climbing expedition for the best value experience with enough acclimatization days.
Our industry-leading mountain guiding experts will make sure that you will have a remarkable climbing experience ensuring your safety at every step. If you want to switch to a more comfortable setting with our ‘personalized package’ we can design it according to your needs. You will be able to determine the trekking and climbing pace as well as the highlight exploration for your adventure with our custom-tailored personal package.
Packing right for the expedition is another major way to reduce the overall Island Peak difficulty, with the right gear and clothes, you will be able to easily traverse across diverse landscapes in different climatic zones. You can expect the climatic conditions to be warmer in the lower region during the peak seasons, however after entering the alpine environment, you will have to deal with the freezing temperature.
Although it is recommended for you to pack light due to the 2: 1, porter-to-climber ratio, you shouldn’t miss the most basic essentials during your expedition. Here are some packing suggestions for your Island Peak climbing.
- Climbing boots insulated with stiff soles
- Carry crampons
- Ice axe
- Climbing helmet
- Lockable and unlockable carabiners
- Jumar/ ascender
- Belay/ descender
- Accessory cord
- Waist leash
- Trekking poles
- Ski goggles
- Glacier glasses
- Hand and toe warmers
- Sun hat
- Wool or synthetic ski hat
- Neck gaiter, bandana or scarf
- Long sleeve sun shirt
- Baslatyer bottom
- Softshell pants
- Insulated synthetic pants
- Short trekking pants
- Hardshell pants
- Thermal trousers
- Softshell jacket
- Mildlayer top
- Puff light down jacket
- Heavy down jacket
- Several pairs of undergarments
Handwear and Footwear
- Lightweight liner gloves
- Softshell gloves
- Insulated shell gloves
- Expedtion mittens
- Wool sock
- Synthetic sock
- Double boots
- Light hiking or trekking shoes
- Sports or training shoes (for acclimatization days and short hikes)
- Slipper or crock
Personal Hygiene and Toiletries
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, and facewash
- Comb, nail clippers, and a small mirror
- Water purification
- Soap, conditioners, and shampoo
- Body lotion, lip care
- Sun protection
- Toilet paper, face wipes
- Small first aid kit
- Enough personal medication
- Hand sanitizer
- Face mask
- Water purification
- Other hygiene products
- Four seasonal sleeping bag
- Inflatable sleeping pad
- Water bottles, thermos, hydration reservoir
- Pee bottle
- Solar panel
- Power bank
- Altimeter or smartwatch with GPS
- Waterproof bags
- Stuff sack/ packing cubes
- Magazines, journals, and pen