Island Peak Overview
Island Peak – or Imja Tse, as it is formally known – is a large and glaciated mountain situated on the eastern end of Nepal’s Sagarmatha National Park.
While it is generally considered to be an independent mountain, the doubly glaciated summit is actually an extension of the southern ridge of Lhotse Shar.
From its summit, Island Peak boasts incredible views of the surroundings – including phenomenal views of Lhotse – which makes it a particularly popular destination.
Due to its relative ease of access and the fact it does not require a high level of technical ability, the peak is often used as a training ground for climbers heading on to Lhotse or Mount Everest.
Quick Facts about Island Peak
- Island Peak got its name in 1953 when an expedition of British climbers saw the summit of the mountain from Dingboche. To them, it looked like an island amidst a sea of clouds.
- While Mount Everest is only 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of Island Peak, it cannot be seen as the massive slopes of Lhotse Shar obstruct the view.
- Many people who climb Island Peak combine the expedition with an Everest Base Camp trek or an ascent of another nearby mountain. The peak is quite remote and difficult to get to, so many climbers make the most of it by spending three weeks to one month in the region.
History of Island Peak
The first expedition to climb Island Peak was the same 1953 expedition that named the peak. The British expedition climbed to the slightly lower southwest summit as a training exercise prior to climbing Mount Everest.
In 1956, Hans-Rudolf Von Gunten and two of his Sherpa guides made the first successful ascent to the summit proper, also in preparation for an ascent of Everest later that year.
In 1983, Island Peak was formally renamed as Imja Tse, which is the Nepali word for island peak. In spite of this, the mountain is still widely referred to as Island Peak.
Experience Required for Climbing Island Peak
Island Peak has been classified as a “trekking peak” by the Nepalese government. Despite this classification, the climb does require some technical ability, but is still widely considered to be an intermediate-level ascent.
Potential climbers will need previous experience with traveling as part of a rope team as well as with the use of crampons and an ice axe. Island Peak is also a physically challenging climb as the ascent is quite steep. Participants should be able to climb for several consecutive hours.
However, lack of acclimatisation is generally the best predictor of who will not make it up the mountain. While the entire trip can be done in 12 days, taking at least a week to acclimate to the high elevation greatly increases chances of success.
Main Routes up Island Peak
The North Ridge Route (Class II/III) is the most commonly taken route to the summit of Island Peak and just about the exclusive route used on commercially guided trips.
After completing the approach to the summit, ascents generally begin from the Pareshaya Gyab base camp at 5,087 metres (16,690 feet).
Starting at 2 or 3 am, climbers will make a steep hiking ascent, occasionally scrambling over rocky steps, before arriving at the glacier. Climbers will continue to climb up a steep snow and ice slope before reaching the summit.
Some climbers opt to begin the ascent from the high camp, which is located at the foot of the glacier. However, due to its high altitude and logistical difficulties of bringing supplies up, few opt to do so.