top 10 tips for island peak climbing

Top 10 Tips for Island Peak Climbing

With over 3o years of experience in mountaineering in the Himalayas, we have guided many climbers from around the world to the summit of Himalayan peaks. This gives us the perspective to be able to offer some tips for climbing Island Peak safely and successfully. For each climb, we help prepare our clients in the best way and guide them on the field ensuring safety and success. 

Island Peak is a famous trekking peak in the Everest region of Nepal. The peak is graded as Alpine PD+ in terms of grade and doesn’t demand technical skills. It is the first choice for many people when it comes to climbing a 6000m Himalayan peak. Island Peak is a classic 6000m Himalayan peak combining all in one that will take your mountaineering skills to newer heights.

Island Peak is the second most sought peak in the Everest region after the mighty Everest. Standing tall at 6189m, the peak offers real climbing experience with the use of a ladder and fixed ropes on steep snow sleeves at 45 degrees. We have boiled down the most essential tips for Island peak climbing in this blog. 

This peak was attempted for the first time in 1953 as a training base for Everest Expeditions and to this day, this peak is chosen as a training ground for climbing big mountains. You need to be familiar with mountaineering boots, crampons and abseiling & rappelling on fixed ropes. Island Peak is an ideal peak for people looking for more than conventional trekking and is yet unprepared to tackle high-altitude expeditions. Island Peak is also used as a preliminary peak for Aconcagua, Denali and Manaslu. Read below for our 10 tips for Island peak climbing. 

Our Top 10 Tips for Island Peak Climbing:

Lhotse south face seen from the summit of Island Peak.

1. Schedule the best time to come

No matter how fit and prepared you come, the chances of summiting the peak will still be slim if you do not schedule the right time for your Island peak climb. Climbing a peak involves different factors and challenges so scheduling the right time for your climb is, without doubt, the foremost important thing. Pre-monsoon/Spring (Apr-May) and Post-monsoon/Fall (Oct to Nov) are the best time to climb any peak in Nepal. The weather during these times is favourable with less wind, clear views and fewer chances of snowfall. Climbing during the monsoon season (June to Mid September) and winter season (Dec to Mid-March) is not recommended due to poor weather and heavy snowfall. 

2. Allow proper acclimatization on your itinerary

Let your body adapt to the altitude. We strongly recommend you combine the Everest Base Camp & Kalapathar with the Island Peak Climb as this will allow proper acclimatization to your itinerary. Your trip duration will be extended by 3-4 days but all this will be worth it. Doing Everest base camp and Kalapathar (5545m) prior to heading to Island Peak will maximize the summit chances. A lot of people cut the total duration of the climb by heading straight to Island Peak. While some may succeed, others with little experience tend to withdraw from achieving their goal of submitting the peak due to the rapid increase in altitude. You do not necessarily need to do the Everest base camp trek but acclimatizing adequately and properly before hitting the Island Peak is the secret here. Even the strongest and most experienced climbers return back with empty hands if neglected the acclimatization. 

3. Acquire previous high-altitude experience

Having previous high-altitude experience is definitely beneficial. Although it is not mandatory if you schedule proper acclimatization, having some experience of high altitude is definitely going to make a difference. Do a trek that reaches up to an elevation of 5000m and learn some basic mountaineering skills as Island Peak demands more than you have thought. We offer a climbing course at the base camp before the actual climb where you will learn the required climbing skills. So, doing a high-altitude trek prior to the Island peak is highly beneficial. 

4. Train well ahead in advance– The fitter you are, the more enjoyable experience will be.

The fitter you are the more enjoyable the experience will be. The multiple days trekking to the base camp at high altitude and 10-12 hrs long summit push definitely requires you to be in excellent physical condition.  Train yourself well ahead at least 3-4 months before hitting the trail. Build your strength, and climbing skills and train your cardiovascular for the climb. Doing regular hiking carrying some weight and cardio will boost your stamina. Begin your training for Island Peak with general conditioning and gradually do the specific training as required for the climb. Make sure you train consistently and increased the training load gradually. Check out our brief training advice on how to prepare for a high-altitude trek and climb. 

5. Learn basic mountaineering skills

Island Peak is not a usual trekking peak and it requires the usage of climbing equipment (Crampons, harnesses, Fixed rope, Abseil devices etc.) on a steep slope. It will definitely test your mountaineering skills and take them to a newer height. Having basic mountaineering skills is beneficial. On our Island peak climb, we have allotted a day just for the climbing course. You can learn the basic skills required to summit the peak at the base camp or Chukung with your climbing guide. 

6. Get the right clothing and climbing boot

Having proper gear for the climb is without question the most important tip for island peak climbing. Pack all the essential gears required for the climb and be sure to break into your mountaineering boots earlier if you plan to buy it. Do not compromise on the quality of the gear. If you plan on using it only once then you can also rent the gears in Kathmandu or Chukung. We strongly advise you to get all gears in Kathmandu or your home town leaving for the climb. Those who choose to rent gear from Chukung may not find the exact fit for your gear given the limited option. Make sure you also double-check all the gears before flying to Lukla. Here are the recommended boots for peak climbing in Nepal.

7. Come mentally prepared

So, you have prepared yourself physically and in all aspects but what about your mental strength? It is as important as preparing yourself physically. Climbing Island Peak is a demanding task and it requires your mental preparation because in the end it’s always mind over body. Come mentally prepared and do not approach the objective with over-confidence in your abilities. Prepare yourself for the cold temperature, long and arduous walk, and shortness of breath. Cut the cord if you can and be fully focused and committed to the climb. Staying in constant contact with family, friends or work during the climb can divert your focus and hence your climb is least likely to be successful. 

8. Keep contingency day

On the mountain, anything can lead to a change in the itinerary and it’s always a better plan to keep a contingency day in your itinerary. Many unforeseen circumstances (Health, weather, route, etc.) can lead to a change in the plan and having a contingency day will prevent your itinerary from being jeopardized. If all goes well and as planned, you can use this day to rest and recall the memories of climbing or perhaps indulge yourself in a treat.

9. Reserve your energy for the big day

Your main goal is to reach the summit of Island Peak and the summit day is when it demands all your strength and energy. Do not tire yourself on the trekking days, allow rest and acclimatization, hydrate and feed yourself properly and get a good night’s rest. Keep the intensity and effort level low early in the trip. The long 10-12 hrs summit push at freezing temperature while ascending the steep slopes is when all your strength is required.

10. The summit is only halfway through your journey

Although summiting the peak is your main goal, the summit is only halfway and the descent is often as much of a challenge as the climb. Your journey ends only after you have reached back your home safely. Follow proper safety, know your health condition, look out for each other and you are sure to have an amazing experience that will be cherished forever.

We hope these tips for Island peak climbing will help you in knowing the terrain and preparing yourself for the climb. If you have any questions or need any help with the planning and preparation of the climb, get in touch with us. We will be glad to assist you in making your dream of summiting Island Peak turn into a reality.

See yourself fit for the climb? Visit our Island Peak Climb

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