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Island Peak Difficulty: Tips for Climbing Island Peak

island peak climbing nepal

Island Peak (6189m) – called Imja Tse in the the local language – is known as once of the great introductory 6000 meter peaks in the Everest Region of the Himalayas. 

Though it has a reputation and classification as a “trekking peak”, don’t be fooled. Climbing Island Peak offers a real challenge that goes well beyond your standard trek. The average person who shows up to Island Peak expecting an easy jaunt up a hill is in for a rude awakening. 

That being said, climbing Island Peak is a very accessible way to dip your toes into the world of mountaineering in the Himalayas. With the right preparation and mindset, attaining the summit is very achievable for people with good fitness and basic climbing skills.

We get asked all the time here at Epic: how difficult is Island Peak to climbBelow, we tackle this question as we go over some of our top tips and expert advice to consider before you set off to bag this classic Himalayan Peak.

Managing the Island Peak Height and Altitude

The inherent challenge that comes with climbing this peak lies with the Island Peak altitude. At 6189 meters above sea level, there is less available oxygen in the air and movements that feel easy lower down, feel difficult when you are operating at such a height. 

The key to managing the altitude is going slow and being able to maintain a slow pace. Having a good acclimatization plan in place will go a long way in ensuring that you have a solid shot at the summit. 

The typical Island Peak Itinerary should allow for plenty of time for rest or “zero” days, meaning you will have to stay put at various points on the trip in order to allow your body to adapt to the thin air. 

Having a few days to rest in the villages of Namche Bazaar (3500m) Chhukung (4730m) is very important. 

Signing up for a “rapid ascent” program without the proper acclimatization is a recipe for disaster. Take your time with the process. Altitude is not the sort of thing that can be rushed. Plus the journey through the many Sherpa villages en route to Island Peak Base Camp is a huge part of the experience of this journey. 

Choose the Right Gear for Island Peak

At first glance, the Island Peak packing list can be quite daunting. 

One needs a lot more gear than required by an ordinary trekking trip. 

The most important items that will determine your success on the peak come down to 6 things:

  • 6000m Boots: Probably the most expensive item on the list. We recommend using La Sportiva G2 SM boots or the Scarpa equivalent. Note that we help our clients rent these boots in Kathmandu if they choose not to buy a pair of their own. 
  • Summit jacket: While you might get warm climbing up the steep sections en route to the summit, you will want a heavy down jacket. 
  • Gloves: Typically people have the most trouble choosing appropriate gloves. There are so many options out there! Choose a sturdy, full-fingered, well-insulated Gore-Tex model that still allows for some finger dexterity so you can change/operate your jumar and belay device. The balance you are looking to achieve involves warmth and dexterity; you want the maximum of both. 
  • Head Torch with Rechargeable Battery: This is an important item because you will likely start your climb in total darkness around 1 or 2 in the morning. Bring a backup battery in case you need it.
  • -20 C Sleeping Bag: While you will only have one night in a tent for Island Peak, you will be using the sleeping bag nearly every night at the tea houses. A warm sleeping bag will ensure you get the rest you need to be successful on the expedition, so don’t skimp on sleeping bag warmth!  
  • Polarized Sunglasses: Glacier glasses or the equivalent are without a doubt one of the most important items you need to pack for this climb. Protect your eyes against the high-altitude ultraviolet rays and snow reflection at all costs! 

    If you are planning more adventures in Nepal, check out this ultimate Nepal Packing List

Island Peak Difficulty: The Truth

For some reason, Island Peak has the reputation for being an “easy” 6000-meter peak. Let me break it to you – no 6000-meter peak is easy, simply because the height makes it more challenging than a mountain in the 3000 meter range. 

This myth about Island Peak is not helped by the fact that it is classified by the Nepali authorities as a “trekking peak”. 

Let’s set the record straight; while not overly technical, basic climbing skills like rappelling and the use of a jumar are essential and used for a significant period of time during the climb. If you have never done either before – that is ok (though doing some training beforehand is recommended if it is possible for you) – our expert guides give a few training sessions before the climb so that you can approach the summit with the necessary skills. 

The fact that you get to use all of these new skills during the climb itself is one of the main reasons why Island Peak is such a good intro 6000-meter peak; it paves the way for the possibility of more technical and demanding climbs at altitude while giving you the experience of doing some real climbing in the field. 

The below photos show our clients training a few days before our summit attempt. 

How Long Will It Take To Climb Island Peak?

The second aspect related to the Island Peak difficulty question is the length of the summit push.

Depending on the conditions on the mountain, the summit push can be long. On average, our clients take between 11-14 hours from base camp to the summit and back to base camp. It might be possible to do the whole climb in 8-9 hours if the conditions were absolutely perfect and the individual had a very high level of fitness. 

Having good endurance fitness is crucial to ensuring you have enough “gas in the tank” to complete the climb. 

The total trekking days required to trek into base camp and then climb the actual peak, then trek back out again is around two weeks minimum. 

When is the best time to climb Island Peak?

Island Peak can be climbed during three seasons: spring (March-May), fall (October – November), and winter (December – February). 

The exact best time to climb Island Peak is debatable – but the consensus is that either spring or fall is best. Fall time is the busiest season, while spring tends to bring the chance of more unpredictable weather. 

During our climbs during the spring, we experienced excellent weather, with full sun present almost every morning of the trip. 

Though it varies each year, the fall season typically sees slightly better conditions on the mountain; ie less rock and ice and more snow in the jumar/rappelling sections. 

What is the vibe of Island Peak Base Camp?

Located at 5300 meters, Island Peak Base Camp is a picturesque fixed site run by a dedicated seasonal Sherpa staff that serves as the launch point for most expeditions attempting the peak. 

Here, you will find all of the classic comforts of a fixed base camp including large tents with proper mattresses in them – which are usually shared with another member of your team. The staff at base camp cooks your meals and serve unlimited tea before and after the summit push.

There are drop toilets here too, so the area is kept pretty clean and devoid of people going to the bathroom behind every rock!

In the spring, there is no consistent water source here, so the base camp staff must carry loads of water each day from a few kilometers a way. This is just one reason to tip the Island Peak Base Camp staff well! 

 

What are the average temperatures at Island Peak?

Spring: Temperatures at Island Peak Base Camp are around – 10 c at night, potentially a little colder. During our recent spring (April) summit push, we had no wind at all and got quite warm climbing up the steep hill to the crampon point. This is why layers are key! Dawn brought chilly temps and a slight breeze. As there is a bit of standing around and waiting for people to put on their crampons and everything, dawn was probably the coldest part of the climb. 

Because we had a bluebird sky summit day, the summit was actually quite hot. Most of the team shed their heavy down jackets in favor of lighter shell jackets on the summit. 

Fall: October and November tend to be a bit colder than spring months. There can be more snow present but quality 6000-meter boots are still more than effective at keeping your feet warm. 

It is important to pay attention to the wind forecast as that will be a factor in how cold it could potentially be on the summit. 

On a clear day with little wind, expect the temps to be cold, but generally warm and pleasant during 10 am – 2 pm. 

What is the rate of Island Peak Summit Success?

The Nepal Mountaineering Association does not keep track of summit success rates, but from our experience and what we heard from other expeditions over the years, the rate of Island Peak summit success is around 70%. 

For most fit individuals, the only reason you would not summit would be if 1. you experienced altitude sickness so severe that you could not physically climb or 2. weather prevented/impacted the ascent. 

It can not be over stated the importance of an Island Peak Itinerary that allows for a proper acclimatization period. If your body is acclimatized and you are feeling more or less good; then your chance of getting to the Island Peak summit is quite high indeed. All you need is a positive mindset and determination to keep moving up, and you shall. 

Island Peak Route and Location

For much of the trek into Island Peak Base Camp, the route follows the famed Everest Base Camp Trek. The route splits at a village called Dingboche and the crowds seem to disappear around this point once you veer off towards Island Peak. 

Base Camp for Island Peak is found roughly 3 hours away by foot from Chhukung Village. On the route to base camp, stunning views of Lhotse, Island Peak, vast glacier systems, and other towering peaks can be seen in every direction

In terms of the actual climbing route, there is really only one standard way to get up the mountain that every expedition follows. Some groups choose to use the High Camp (this sits around 5600 meters), which shaves a few hours off of the already long summit push. 

We opt to not use the high camp as having access to a clean water source is not possible there, but will consider it in the future in order to have the chance to enjoy a slightly shorter summit push.

 

island peak climbing nepal
Island Peak is located in Sagarmatha National Park in the Everest region.

What is Accommodation like on Island Peak?

The majority of nights during the Island Peak climb and trek are spent at tea houses run by local Sherpa families. This means you have a bed and access to a toilet each night!

Showers and wifi are available sometimes too – which can fell like real luxuries out in the mountains. 

Tea houses are a great part of the experience of trekking in Nepal and also allows for our members to get the proper rest they need along the route (some people just do not sleep well in tents).

The only point on the trip when staying in tea houses is not possible is at Island Peak Base Camp. 

island peak climbing nepal
There are over 70 tea houses in Namche Baazar!

Island Peak Difficulty: Wrap Up

Our general feeling? Climbing Island Peak is one hell of a good time. If you are looking for a proper challenge and a fun introduction to high-altitude mountaineering, then Island Peak is a great “first”.

The Island Peak difficulty question should be clear to you now at least after reading this article and based on your own goals and fitness ability, you can now properly judge whether Island Peak is a good trip option for you or not. 

The Island Peak climbing season is one of our favorite trips we run and when the time is right, we hope you get to join us for this truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

Please get in touch with our knowledgeable staff should you like us to elaborate on anything further about our Island Peak Climbing trip. 

Happy climbing preparation all! 

More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

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Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

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The trip we're most stoked about

MONGOLIA
Horse Trekking in Mongolia Expedition

Next trip: September 3rd - 17th, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin


Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

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