Island Peak (Imja-Tse) – 20,305′

Mountain Trip offers a wide range of aesthetic alpine objectives throughout the Nepal Himalaya, from the remote to the well-known, including all of the “trekking peaks” of the Khumbu: Lobuche East, Mehra Peak and Island Peak. We love returning year after year to experience this culturally rich country, all while amidst the highest mountains in the world. Don’t be misled by the appellation: The trekking peaks of Nepal offer their share of challenging mountaineering.  Island Peak offers a great introduction to high altitude mountaineering, and a venerable ascent in its own right. Combined with a trek in from the lowlands, our Island Peak expedition makes for an immersive and unforgettable experience in the Nepalese high country. Known locally as “Imja-Tse,” Island Peak stands at 20,305’ (6189m) with significant prominence from the surrounding valley, in a dramatic setting of massive peaks.

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Our Island Peak ascent route climbs the narrow Southwest Ridge after navigating a section of glacier (complete with ladder crossings, depending on the conditions) to the breathtaking summit, surrounded by the majesty of Makalu, Lhotse, Ama Dablam and the holy peak of Cho Polu–a very memorable experience in the mountains. One of the world’s great alpine walls, the rarely attempted and extremely difficult South Face of the 8,516 meter giant Lhotse, provides a spectacular backdrop to our climb.

As we gradually ascend from the airport hub in Lukla through the verdant foothills of the Himalaya, we’ll make stops along the way, including a night in the cultural center of Namche Bazaar, and the Tengboche Monestary; you cannot help but feel a sense of the sanctity and spirit of these peaks, as well as the footsteps of many historic ascents before you. We will also take a side trip up to Everest Base Camp, and weather permitting, Kala Patthar. After savoring the rewards of our efforts, we descend the trail back to Lukla, where the expedition will come full circle.

Those interested in climbing Island Peak should have basic mountaineering experience, as we will be traveling on a rope team for a portion of the climb on summit day, as well as ascending a fixed line. While we will only be hiking with day packs (with the assistance of porters to carry our duffels with heavy climbing gear) climbers must also be in good physical condition, as the mountainous terrain that creates such majesty in the Khumbu lends itself to rugged hiking. Moreover, the thin air of the high Himalaya also makes the climbing and trekking much more challenging than at lower elevations.


A spectacular view while trekking in the Khumbu.

Day 1:  Arrive Kathmandu: Your journey is about to begin! When you arrive to the Kathmandu airport we will have someone waiting to pick you up and transport you to your hotel in the heart of the bustling city. Take this time to wind down, get some rest, and start the process of getting over jet lag.

Day 2:  Explore Kathmandu: The bustling town of Kathmandu can be quite the culture shock, especially after a long travel day (or likely two) to reach Nepal. We’ll explore the dusty, busy streets, beautiful in their sheer display of such a wide range of humanity. We’ll browse the various markets in the heart of the city, selling everything from yak wool scarves, to prayer flags, incense, and counterfeit North Face summit parkas. If you need to pick up any last minute gear for your climb, there are also some legitimate gear shops where we can purchase additional items for your kit after gear check, for a similar price to stores in the west.

Spinning prayer wheels in Kathmandu before departing for an Island Peak expedition.

Day 3:  Fly to Lukla/Trek to Phakding: From the Kathmandu airport (which can be a unique and chaotic experience), we’ll hop on a small plane for a scenic flight over the terraced, vibrantly green foothills of the Himalaya. Try and sit on the left side of the plane in if you can; if the day isn’t too cloudy you can catch glimpses of the regions loftiest summits, nearly at level with the plane’s cruising altitude. There is still quite a bit of farmland in the lowlands, and foods are generally of greater variety and higher quality.

Day 4:  Trek to Namche: From Phakding, we will trek through the foothills of the Khumbu, past Mani Stones (massive boulders carved with Tibetan Buddhist mantras, like “”Om Mani Padme Hum“; always be sure to go around these to the left), prayer wheels, and idyllic creeks. The highlight of the day is crossing several suspension bridges, hundreds of feet above river gorges, with prayer flags blowing in the wind. Make sure to not start across these bridges when a mule team is headed your way, and try to give right-of-way to porters carrying loads. We will make a couple of stops along the way to deal with paperwork, permits and entry into Sagarmatha National Park, so be mentally prepared for a bit of a wait, depending on lines. At this point in your stay, it will be apparent to you that the Nepalese system of bureaucratic organization is quite different from that which you’re likely accustomed.

Day 5:  Explore Namche: We will take a day to enjoy the bustling village and Sherpa trading center of Namche Bazaar, the epicenter of trekking in this region of the Himalaya. Perhaps consider a shower in your teahouse to wash off the dust of the lowlands, as the showers (calling them such is a bit of an overstatement) higher on the route tend to get progressively worse as you gain elevation. We have a chance here to visit the Sherpa Museum above town, or trek up to the Everest View Cafe.

Day 6:  Trek to Tengboche Monastery, overnight in Deboche: From Namche we will ascend on dusty, forested trails through hilly terrain to the stunning and colorful Tengboche Monastery, where the lama of the Khumbu region resides.

Day 7:  Trek to Dingboche: Along the ascent from Dingboche to Deboche, we will begin to enter a different landscape; gradually emerging from the jungles of the lowlands into a more alpine environment. In the Himalaya, this environment transition is marked by us no longer encountering mule trains; supplies higher up in the mountains are carried exclusively by yak trains and “dzho,” hearty yak/cow hybrids. While these animals carrying large burdens over rugged trails to the backdrop of spectacular mountains makes for a great photo, make sure to give these creatures a wide berth on the trail, and stop when they pass. There have been unfortunate stories of yaks and dzho knocking trekkers off the trail in precarious spots.

Dzho carrying loads up a steep section of trail.

Day 8-9:  Explore and Acclimatize in Dingboche: We will take a day to rest and take in the stunning views surrounding the quaint high mountain village of Dingboche, home to arguably the best pastries along the trek, and some stunning views of Ama Dablam. This day we might alternatively continue to Lobuche and use this acclimatization day further along the trek, depending on how everyone feels and how our weather outlook is for the coming days.

Day 10:  Trek to Lobuche: The temperatures begin to get colder from this point on, with the evening cloud layer blocking the sun, and the distinct bite of alpine chill in the air. At this point in our trek, we will be just over 16,200′.

Day 11:  Trek to Gorak Shep: We will continue up to the village of Gorak Shep, which occasionally gets a bad reputation among trekkers. This is perhaps not the place to buy luxuries such as Snickers bars, since the prices at the teahouses are much higher than lower villages. For many continuing up to Everest Base Camp, this is the culmination of their journey. However, many people ascend to this point too quickly and fall ill with the notorious Khumbu cough.

Sunset alpenglow on Everest (left) and Nuptse, seen from Kala Patthar.

Day 12:  Visit Everest Base Camp/Climb Kala Pathhar: This day is certainly a highlight of the trip. We will trek up the rugged trail along the lateral moraine of the Khumbu Glacier to visit Everest Base Camp at around 17,600′. If you’re visiting Base Camp in the spring, you will be able to see the tent city situated down below the notorious Khumbu Ice Fall, of climbers attempting Everest from the south and other routes.

The trek along the lower Khumbu Glacier to Everest Base Camp.

Day 13:  Alternate day for Kala Pathhar, trek to Lobuche: If we don’t ascend Kala Pathhar on our first day in Gorak Shep, we will prioritize doing so on this day. Then, we will descend back down to Lobuche to be in a good position to head up and over.

Day 14:  Trek over Kongma La Pass to Chukkung: From Lobuche, we will cross a portion of the Khumbu Glacier, mostly covered in boulders, but with some open icy ponds and crevasses. After crossing a stretch of the glacier, we will begin our ascent up Kongma La Pass. From the top of the pass we will have great views towards Island Peak, Lhotse’s impressive south face, and down to Chukkung. If the team is feeling like they would prefer to conserve energy, there is also an option to circumnavigate the pass and go a flatter, easier way with a few extra miles. However, the views of Island Peak from the summit of Kongma-La definitely make up for the higher elevation gain.

Trekkers on the summit of Kongma-La Pass

Day 15:  Climb Chukkung Ri/overnight in Chukkung: We will have the option to do an acclimatization ascent of Chukkung Ri if we’re feeling good and would like to get some good views of the area and an extra acclimatization bump before heading to Island Peak.

Day 16:  Trek to Island Peak BC: We will continue on a rolling, rocky trail through talus fields above Chukkung, along a stream and glacial moraine to reach Island Peak Base Camp. The ascent route is still not yet entirely visible from below and from our approach aspect. Island Peak Base Camp is a semi-permanent camp, near Imja Lake. Once at Base Camp we will prepare all of our gear for the climb, briefly chat about the route, practice fixed line and rappel technique, and turn in early for hopefully a restful sleep before the climb.

Day 17:  Climb Island Peak!: We will begin our day very early, likely between midnight and 1 a.m., with a quick breakfast in the dark at Base Camp before beginning our climb.

Roped up for the glaciated portion of the approach to Island Peak.

Day 18:   Contingency/Weather day: This day is built into the itinerary in case weather prevents us from going to the summit, and will allow us to take advantage of the best window possible.

Day 19:  Trek to Pangboche: We will descend to Pangboche after our climb, our first time below 14,000′ in nearly a week.

Day 20:  Trek to Namche: Namche seems like a bit of a paradise after a long time above 12,000′. We might even enjoy a celebratory beverage at the local Irish pub, which seems a bit out of place, but is a welcome reprise from the alpine and the exertion of the past week.

Flowers blooming in Namche Bazaar.

Day 21:  Trek to Lukla: Heading back to Lukla, you will feel like you are as light as a feather, and the air seems rich with oxygen. Depending on the weather, we may spend an extra day here.

Day 22:  Fly back to Kathmandu: Return back to the lowlands, where you will feel like a superhuman back down in the dusty streets of Kathmandu. Enjoy all the luxuries the city has to offer.

Day 23:  Contingency/Weather day: We have an extra day built in to the itinerary in case of flight delays from Lukla back to Kathmandu, which are quite common, especially in the early spring and late fall.

Day 24:  Flights Home: We suggest that you book your flight back home in the afternoon on day 24, unless you prefer to stay in the area a bit longer, explore more of Nepal, or continue on to other adventures in Asia.

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Refunds and Cancellations

Mountain Trip recognizes how difficult and disappointing it can be for climbers who must cancel expeditions which they have planned for a long time. Team members must also recognize that, due to the nature of planning expeditions and dealing with governmental permits and regulations, Mountain Trip also accrues significant expenses in the months prior to expedition departure dates. We must therefore adhere to a strict refund policy for all climbers. Trip cancellation and travel insurance is generally available for all expeditions. U.S. and Canadian residents should contact us for more information regarding travel insurance. Our refund and cancellation policy is outlined below.

• All expeditions require a deposit to secure a spot on the team. Your submission of a deposit constitutes your acceptance of this Fee Schedule, Refund and Cancellation Policy.

• All deposits for Island Peak expeditions include a non-refundable $1500 administration fee (we highly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation Insurance to protect the administration fee, if not the entire cost of your climb).

• Final payments for expeditions must be received 120 days prior to the Team Meeting Day.

• Failure to pay expedition fees by the date they are due constitutes cancellation of your spot on the team and forfeiture of your deposit.

• Any cancellation 120+ days before your Meeting Day will be refunded in full, less the administration fee.

• If you cancel 120-90 days before your Meeting Day, you are eligible for a refund of 50% of any monies paid, less the deposit.

• No refunds will be provided for cancellations occurring within the last 89 days prior to an expedition.

• All requests for refunds must be made in writing and received in our Colorado office.

• If you register for a climb within 90 days of the Team Meeting Date, expedition fees will be due in full to secure your spot on the team.

• No refunds will be given for unused hotel bookings due to schedule changes, late arrivals, etc.

• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason. In the event that the expedition is cancelled based solely on an internal administrative decision by Mountain Trip (Internal Cancellation), all monies, except for nonrefundable administrative fees, collected by Mountain Trip from team members for the canceled expedition shall be refunded within 30 days. That is the extent of our financial liability for such cancellations. This Internal Cancellation provision shall not apply when external factors that force Mountain Trip to cancel an expedition against its will, including, but not limited to, international political upheaval, terrorism, drought/famine, epidemics/pandemics, and/or cancellations imposed by foreign or domestic governments or permitting agencies (External Cancellation). All External Cancellations shall not be subject to a refund unless such cancellation occurs prior to the deadlines set forth in the Refund and Cancellation policies, above.

The following applies only if all expedition fees are paid by the date they are due:

If Mountain Trip cancels your expedition due to External Cancellation factors resulting from coronavirus more than 90 days prior to the Team Meeting date, Mountain Trip will credit 100% of your paid expedition fees toward a future program with Mountain Trip or refund all monies paid except for the non-refundable administrative fee.

If Mountain Trip cancels your expedition due to External Cancellation factors resulting from coronavirus 90 days or less prior to the Team Meeting date, Mountain Trip will credit 75% of your paid expedition fees toward a future program with Mountain Trip or refund 50% of your expedition fee.


General Agreement Concerning Services to be Provided And Responsibilities of Team Members

When registering for an expedition with Mountain Trip we want to help make sure you understand the services we are providing and the services you are responsible for.

Transportation is incidental

The main purpose of becoming a team member is to join us on an expedition in the mountains. As such any transportation we provide or that you may contract for on your own is incidental to the trip. We suggest that you make sure you have time built into your itinerary for delays.

Transportation to and from your destination

We will designate a specific Team Meeting Day for your expedition. Transportation to the meeting point on your Team Meeting Day is to be provided by you. You must arrive in time to be ready to participate in a team meeting at the appointed time on the Team Meeting Day for your expedition. Expedition climbing is very dynamic and we will provide you with a recommendation as to when you should book your flights to and from your destination. We suggest you book a ticket that allows you to change your flight with little effort or cost.

Lodging off the mountain

Mountain Trip will provide lodging per the Inclusions and Exclusions section above. Any additional lodging is your responsibility. Don’t worry about booking a room after your expedition. We generally don’t know how long we’ll be in the mountains, and we can help arrange lodging when we return to “civilization.”

Responsibilities of Team Members

You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being, including making all necessary preparations to ensure good health and physical conditioning. You are responsible for understanding the conditions that may exist on the climb and choosing a climb that is appropriate for your abilities and interests. You are responsible for having knowledge of all pre-departure information and for assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for your climb.

While on the expedition, team members are responsible to maintain basic levels of hygiene and to conduct themselves respectfully with other team members and members of the local population. If a guide feels that a team member is putting other members’ health or safety at risk, the guide has the discretion to remove a team member from an expedition.

Use our office staff and your lead guide as pre-trip resources to ensure that all your questions are answered. Travel insurance may help recoup expenses if you need to leave an expedition due to an illness.

Airline Responsibility Passenger/Airline contracts are in effect while team members are on board any aircraft contracted for use in the expedition.

No Guaranteed Outcomes

While it is one of our goals to help every climber on every Mountain Trip expedition reach the summit, Mountain Trip cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit.  Any number of factors, including weather, the conditions encountered on the route, your personal level of fitness or ability, the abilities of your team mate(s) or any number of other circumstances might result in you and/or your team turning around before reaching the summit.  Failure to reach the summit due to any reason associated with mountaineering, such as weather, team dynamics, route conditions, avalanche hazard, rockfall hazard, etc, or due to your lack of fitness or preparation are not the responsibility of Mountain Trip and will not result in a refund or a rescheduling of your expedition.

Inclusions and Exclusions

Included in the Trip Fee:

  • Mountain Trip Guide.  Your expedition will be led by one of our guides with extensive 6000 meter experience.
  • Climbing permits
  • Sherpa support.  We have an all-star team of Sherpa who work with us in the Khumbu.
  • Hotel transfers in Kathmandu
  • Up to three nights hotel lodging in Kathmandu at a 4-star hotel
  • Welcome dinner in Kathmandu
  • Scheduled group flights via fixed wing aircraft between Kathmandu and Lukla
  • Meals and lodging during the trek
  • Group climbing and camping equipment
  • All porter support to/from Base Camp
  • Custom expedition dispatches so your friends and family can follow along on your adventure.

Not Included in the Trip Fee:

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance.  US and Canadian residents can contact us for insurance options.
  • International flights to and from Nepal
  • Kathmandu personal expenses (apart from those included above)
  • Personal equipment per our equipment list
  • Customary gratuities for local staff
  • Sodas, beer, bottled water, snacks, internet, and assorted “extras” during the trek to Island Peak Base Camp
  • Expenses incurred as a result of an early departure from the expedition
  • Expenses incurred due to delays beyond the control of Mountain Trip
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