Although not the highest and most celebrated, Island Peak is one of the most frequently trekked mountains in Nepal. Climbers use it as an alternative snow peak trek for preparing long and strenuous climbs to Mount Everest.
Of course, the Island Peak is not as vicious as the world’s tallest mountain, but it isn’t welcoming either. Trekkers are under tremendous pressure and challenge to reach the summit of the snow peak. From the deceptive trails to unstable weather conditions and extreme topography, they have to go against several odds to reach the acme of Island Peak.
It has a fair share of technical difficulties, including rope climbing, ascending ice slopes, and crossing deep crevasses. Mountaineers have to scramble the sheer rocks and travel up through an open gully before hiking a glacier.
The race to Island Peak from base camp is long and strenuous with snowfields. The trail walking past Imja Tsho is jagged and filled with boulders. It takes several hours and strong stamina to walk this section.
The climb to the summit is incredibly challenging, especially for beginners. The hiking trail here is steep with hard rocks, which prevents the hikers from going above. Apart from it, the atmospheric conditions also challenge hikers and stop them from reaching the summit.
Indeed, Island Peak isn’t savage as other mountains, but the weather definitely is. It’s frosty at the top with a minimum temperature of -10 Degree Celsius and below. Trekkers can experience arctic weather conditions at Island Peak climbing in winter.
They’ll face strong snowstorms, high winds, and low temperatures during the season. Reaching the top of Island Peak becomes extremely difficult in winter due to heavy snowfall. Hence, the weather must be good, more like warm to climb the mountain.
Spring and Autumn typically have mild weather with sunny days, which makes mountaineering more easy and comfortable. Mornings and nights are freezing cold even in peak season, so trekkers have to start climbing the mountain at the crack of dawn.
If the trip is delayed, they’ll have trouble descending as the weather is windy in the evening. Climbing the ice slopes and glaciers can cause trekkers some serious damage. It makes the skin numb and discolors due to extreme coldness.
At 20,210 ft, Island Peak has low atmospheric pressure, which substantially reduces the trekkers’ ability to breathe. Due to rapid exposure and shortage of oxygen, they are likely to suffer from headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and insomnia.
These are all preliminary symptoms of altitude sickness, which is often caused due to sudden changes in the climate. It occurs when the trekkers don’t let their bodies get enough rest before going high.
Altitude sickness becomes worse if not treated on time or get proper medical attention. Therefore, trekkers have to acclimatize well before climbing the mountain. Besides the major challenges, trekkers also have to deal with the accommodation, especially if they decide to stop at the high camp.
The trail venture of Island Peak involves traveling through wild forests, climbing steep hills and river valleys. Trekkers have to cross the suspension bridge several times throughout their journey to the summit.
They have to walk through a series of villages, including Namche, Tyangboche, and Dingboche. Each track on the EBC trail is long enough and takes an average of 5-6 hours to cover the distance.
The trails are physically demanding and require improved strength. Most of the trails are steep and not best-maintained. They wind up from the edge of the valley and through the level ground filled with rocks and boulders. Hence, trekkers, primarily beginners, have to be more cautious while walking these courses.
The reward for the trek is great, though. Island Peak offers much more than a typical view from the summit. They get to picture the magnificence of Lhotse and other surrounding snow peaks from the summit.