Daniel Dawson
Nov 11, 2021

Nepal is practically synonymous with the majestic Himalayas and, of course, Mount Everest. The small South Asian country has long captured the minds of intrepid mountaineers looking for their next great challenge. 

As a result, it is little wonder that the number of tourists flocking to the country has dramatically increased over the past two decades, rising from 363,000 in 1995 to 1.2 million in 2019. 

Despite current travel restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, data from the country’s immigration ministry show 77,000 tourists still managed to make it to Nepal in 2021.

Keep reading: How far to the top? Finding the True Summits on Six of the World’s 8000ers

While not everyone headed to Nepal ends up exploring its diverse and beautiful mountains, data from the country’s tourism ministry shows between 10 and 25 percent of visits are for trekking and mountaineering expeditions. 

In 2019, 198,000 trekkers and mountaineers arrived in the country, representing 16.5 percent of total tourist arrivals.

Many of these climbers have their sights set on the country’s eight 8000ers, which run from Kangchenjunga on Nepal’s border with India, to Dhaulagiri, in the centre of the country. 

<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/embed?mid=1aZ8CL9aDBlAEE2MwxlYclDkdQQ9Mklu_" width="640" height="480"></iframe>

However, Nepal is far more than just its highest peaks. There are a total of 414 mountains for which climbing permits are issued. Of these, 86 remain unclimbed.  

Outside of Nepal’s highest summits, there are plenty of other incredible mountains to climb. Even without breaking the 7,000-metre (23,000-foot) mark, you can embark on the adventure of a lifetime, enjoying sublime views and excellent climbing. 

Below, we’ve listed facts and information about five of Nepal’s best 6000ers to climb in the upcoming spring 2022 mountaineering season. Enjoy!

Ama Dablam

Photo: Mountain Madness

Situated in the heart of the Khumbu region, just 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Mount Everest, Ama Dablam is one of the most popular mountaineering destinations in the world.

The peak is the third most popularly permitted Himalayan mountain for climbing expeditions and is often referred to as the “Matterhorn of the Himalayas.”

Another reason for the nickname is the distinctive shape that the peak cuts on the horizon, leading companies – including Apple and PepsiCo – to use the mountain’s likeness in their branding. 

Despite its popularity and relatively modest elevation (at least compared to many other Himalayan peaks), climbing Ama Dablam is a considerable challenge. The ascent requires advanced rock and ice climbing skills, and even the easiest route is rated as a UIAA V+.

Any trip to Ama Dablam begins with a flight into Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu. From here, climbers transfer to Lukla and spend about a week trekking to the base camp.

From the base camp, the main route to the summit of Ama Dablam follows the Southwest Ridge Route. Widely considered the easiest route to the top, the climb follows the gently sloping ridgeline until reaching Camp II. After the second camp, the last 900 vertical metres (2,950 feet) of the climb become much steeper. 

However, climbers are rewarded for their efforts with simply sublime views out over the Everest region and the rest of Sagarmatha National Park. 

Quick facts:

  • Elevation: 6,812 m (22,349 ft)
  • Duration: 25 to 30 days
  • Climbing season: April to May, September to October
  • Estimated cost: $5,000 to $15,000

Mera Peak

View from the summit of Mera Peak. Photo: Furtenbach Advenutres

Located about 15 kilometres due south of Ama Dablam, Mera Peak towers over the Hinku Valley. 

The mountain is also one of Nepal’s most popular climbing destinations due to the relative ease of climbing Mera, compared to other Himalayan peaks of a similar elevation, and the sublime views from the top. 

Mera comprises three separate summits: the northern, central and southern ones. The north summit is the tallest and the easiest to access, so it is the most common destination. However, many climbers also opt to head to the southern summit, which is only a bit shorter but often far less crowded. 

At nearly 6,500 metres in elevation, the northern summit of Mera Peak is Nepal’s second-highest “trekking peak,” according to the Nepalese government. However, this designation can be a bit misleading as some technical ability is required.

Climbers will need previous glacier climbing experience and some experience at high elevations before booking a trip to Mera. 

Most trips to the mountain begin with a flight into Tribhuvan International Airport. From here, climbers will transfer to Lukla with the guide and spend about a week trekking to the base camp.

From the base camp, most climbers opt to take the standard route, which ascends the mountains from the northeast. Climbers will stop at a high camp on the mountain’s northeastern flank before reaching the top early the next day.

For more advanced mountaineers looking for a challenge, more technical routes lead up to the top via the southern and western faces of the mountain. The southwest pillar, in particular, is a popular challenge for more advanced mountaineers. 

Quick facts:

  • Elevation: 6,476 m (21,247 ft)
  • Duration: 2 to 3 weeks
  • Climbing season: April to May, September to October
  • Estimated cost: $2,000 to $5,000

Cholatse

Photo: Sherpa Expedition And Trekking

Rising high above the ridgeline that separates the Khumbu and Gokyo valleys – just 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) southwest of Everest – Cholatse is one of the more challenging 6000ers to climb in eastern Nepal.

The peak is defined by its narrow snow and ice ridges and steep faces. While the peak is not as distinctive as Ama Dablam, it also cuts a prominent figure above Sagarmatha National Park’s skyline.

Unlike many other peaks in the area, there is no single obvious route to the summit of Cholatse and back. This has led to Cholatse being among the lesser-climbed peaks in the Himalayas and a serious undertaking for intermediate-level mountaineers.

Keep reading: Five Popular High-Altitude Lake Treks in Nepal

Any trip to Cholatse begins with a flight into Tribhuvan International Airport. From here, climbers transfer to Lukla and spend about a week trekking to one of the two base camps, just southwest and north of the peak.

Most expeditions opt to climb the peak from either the southwest ridge or the north face. The route that is taken will largely depend on climber preference and how the mountain is approached.

The southwest ridge is slightly more popular than the north face but still requires advanced rock and ice climbing abilities. The ascent follows the ridge from the base camp up to the summit, utilizing several high camps along the way.  

Despite the challenges of getting to the top, climbers are rewarded with fantastic views of Everest, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam and many other iconic Himalayan peaks!

Quick facts:

  • Elevation: 6,440 m (21,130 ft)
  • Duration: 21 to 25 days
  • Climbing season: March to May, September to October
  • Estimated cost: $2,500

Imja Tse (Island Peak)

Photo: Alpine Sherpa Guide Treks & Expedition

Situated on a ridgeline extending south from Lhotse Shar, Imja Tse is another one of Nepal’s highest “trekking peaks” and, as a result, one of the country’s most famous mountaineering destinations.

Better known as Island Peak, the heavily glaciated mountain earned its name in 1953 when a team of British explorers saw its summit from Dingboche – an island in a sea of ice. 

The peak was later renamed in 1983, but is still referred to as Island Peak in many mountaineering circles.

Despite its designation as a “trekking peak” from the Nepalese government, reaching the top is no walk in Sagarmatha National Park. Despite this classification, some technical ability is required to reach the top.

Climbers will need previous experience climbing with a rope team as well as using ice axes and crampons. The end of the climb is also quite steep and strenuous, meaning all climbers will need a very high level of physical fitness. 

Keep reading: Five Trekking and Climbing Destinations In the Nepalese Himalayas

Any trip to Island Peak will begin with a flight into Tribhuvan International Airport. Most guides will opt to meet here and arrange for transportation to Lukla. From Lukla, it takes about one week of trekking to reach the Pareshaya Gyab base camp.

The most popular way to climb to the summit of Island Peak is via the north ridge, which is rated as a UIAA II/III. Depending on the weather, the ascent either begins straight from the base camp (5,087 metres/16,690 feet) or the high camp (5,600 metres/18,400 feet).

The ascent from the base camp to the high camp involves some basic hiking. From the high camp to the summit, climbers will make a more moderate hike with some scrambling until they arrive at the top of a broad and open gully below the summit. 

From here, climbers clip into fixed ropes and make a steep 100-metre (330-foot) ascent up the snowy and icy slope to the summit ridge and then the top.

Quick facts:

  • Elevation: 6,189 m (20,305 ft)
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Climbing season: April to May, September to October
  • Estimated cost: $2,000 to $8,000

Lobuche

Climbing East Lobuche. Photo: Asiana Nepal Treks & Expeditions

Rising high above the western edge of the Khumbu Valley, Lobuche (also referred to as Lobuje) casts an imposing shadow over its stunning surroundings. 

Located less than 15 kilometres west of Mount Everest, the massif boats two separate summits: Lobuche East and Lobuche West. The vast majority of guides and mountaineering literature mean Lobuche East when they call the destination of their expedition Lobuche.

At 6,119 metres (20,075 feet) in elevation, Lobuche East requires some snow and glacier climbing ability to reach the top. As a result, it is a popular trekking peak and considered one of the best mountaineering destinations for first-time climbers in the Himalayas. 

On the other hand, Lobuche West is slightly taller (6,145 metres/20,260 feet) but requires some technical mountaineering abilities to climb.

The two summits of the massif are separated by a long and deeply notched ridgeline, which makes climbing Lobuche West from Lobuche East nearly impossible. 

Most trips to Lobuche will begin with a flight into Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM). Most guides will opt to meet here and arrange for transportation to Lukla. From Lukla, it takes about one week of trekking to reach either of the base camps.

The Southeast Ridge Route is the most commonly used way to get to the top of Lobuche East. From base camp, trekkers make a steep and rugged hiking and scrambling ascent to the high camp before continuing over the mountain’s glacier to the summit. 

Lobuche West also has one main route, which arrives at the summit via the south shoulder. From a separate base camp, climbers make a steep approach to the high camp. From here, technical rock and ice climbing abilities are needed to traverse a rocky slab and narrow icy ridge before following an exposed ridgeline to the summit. 

Quick facts:

  • Elevation: 6,145 m (20,160 ft)
  • Duration: 20 days
  • Climbing season: April to May, September to October
  • Estimated cost: $1,500 to $3,000

Conclusion

While the main attraction of visiting Nepal and the Himalayas is unquestionably Mount Everest and the other 8000ers, there are plenty of more modest climbing options for mountaineers of every level.

Whether you are working your way up to taking on the world’s highest peak or are simply looking for a sublime wilderness experience, climbing one of Nepal’s 6000ers surely will not disappoint!

Previous Post

Related articles

Nov 22, 2021

With the autumn climbing season already completed in Nepal, places on expeditions to the...

Read More
Oct 27, 2021

As the autumn climbing season for some of the world’s tallest mountains comes to a close,...

Read More
Oct 20, 2021

Part II in a two-part series discussing climbing grades. Read Part I here.People have...

Read More
Sep 28, 2021

Part I in a two-part series discussing climbing grades.Since people started climbing...

Read More