Trekking through the Chhukung valley towards Island peak base camp is a stunning experience. Knowing we are trekking towards summiting an iconic peak fills us with excitement. The mighty Island Peak at a height of 6,189m will be our ultimate goal and is also used as a training peak for other bigger and more technical climbs in the region. Taking time to breathe in the rich Nepalese culture, scenery and feeling of being in such a beautiful environment, with towering snow and ice covered peaks, is an extraordinary experience. Island Peak is the summit you will be standing on the top of and feeling incredible!
Date: 7th – 26th March 2020
Duration: 20 days
** We also offer payment plan options. Call us or send an e-mail to find out more **
Grade 9 Climb (Extreme): require that you are very fit and have previous experience in altitude up to 5,500m. Grade 9 includes multiple days trekking to a base camp at altitude where you will ascend to altitudes over 6,000m but not above 6,500m. Using crampons, helmet, ice axe, being roped up, understanding how to ascend on fixed ropes and ‘toe’ into ice, crevasse rescue, ice axe arrest and abseil will all feature. You must have strong resilience and have trained for this type of expedition.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Departure is usually London Heathrow, this may vary and the specific location will be provided upon booking|
|WEAR||Comfortable Clothing for the flight|
N.B. All hotels are 3-star rating with breakfast included. (Breakfast)
Fly to Lukla
On arrival to Lukla, you will begin 4 hours trek to Phakding (2,640m.) You start your trek from Lukla with a gentle climb up the mountainside on the left bank of the Dudh Koshi River. Mt. Nupla (5,885m) which can be seen in the distance is a peak atop the Kongde Ridge. You descend a mountainside path that merges into your route to Everest, with views to a wonderful valley to your right; and Mt. Kusum Kang (6,367m) to the far end. Stay overnight at lodge. (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)
Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Namche Bazaar to Tyangboche
Tyangboche to Dingboche
Island Peak Base camp
Stay overnight at camp. (Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)
Chhukung to Tyangboche
Monju and Phakding
Fly to Kathmandu
Depart Kathmandu for home
Introduction to the Himalaya
A few years ago most people who came to visit the Himalaya already had a lot of experience hiking in their home Countries. These people needed to be warned of the subtle hazard of Acute Mountain sickness (AMS,) but in general, they were aware of mountain safety. This fact is no longer true, as many people start into the high mountains of Nepal with very little thought for the difficulties they might encounter. This document is intended to serve as a brief reminder of several important points you should think about before you go trekking.
The trekking trails in Nepal vary from wide, road-like avenues to narrow, slippery paths built over enormous drops. In many places, a fall from the trail would be fatal. One must pay attention at all times to where you are placing your feet. Be especially careful not to move while looking through theview finder of your camera. Sometimes your routes will become confusing and you may take a wrong path. If you are tired, as one often is at altitude or after a long day, there is a great temptation to try to climb up or down a steep hillside to regain the correct trail. Several people have died from a long fall while trying to do this and others have been painfully injured. Retrace your steps to find the correct path rather than moving cross-country. Never trek alone.
Nepal has the widest altitude range of any country on Earth, from 200 meters in the Terai to 8,848 meters on the top of Everest. Each altitude will have it’s own weather problems, from tropical heat to arctic cold. It is often difficult to plan for bitter cold winds and snow while walking past banana trees in the hot sun. In the main trekking seasons in Spring and Autumn, the weather is often stable and even the high passes may be free of snow and relatively easy to traverse at times. Those trekkers who encountered an easy day at altitude may spread the word that boots and warm clothing are not required. This is a mistake! Sudden storms can occur at any time, dumping one or two meters of snow on the passes. At that point, anyone with simple running shoes will not be able to proceed and may even be stranded for a number of days. Frostbite is a constant risk if one walks in snow at high altitude.
If you trek in the Winter, you must be prepared for cold and snow. If you trek in the monsoon you might be faced with slippery trails and difficult river crossings but there are much less people on the trail.
You are heading into the world’s highest mountain range. Be prepared for changes in temperature and weather!
If your trekking route will go over 4,000 meters, take a warm sleeping bag, boots adequate for snow, a warm jacket and good quality sunglasses. If you are hiking with porters, make sure they have sunglasses, warm clothing and shoes if they are trekking over high passes. Since most trekking routes do not have medical care for most of their distance bring an adequate first aid kit.
The Himalaya begins where other mountain ranges leave off. Everest Base Camp is at the foot of huge mountains, yet it is 1,000 meters higher than the highest point in Europe. Your body can adjust to these altitudes, but only if given enough time. Being in a hurry in the mountains of Nepal can be deadly! It also seems that excessive exertion at altitude (e.g. carrying a heavy pack) may predispose some people to altitude illness. So it may be advisable to carry a light pack and use a porter. Acclimatisation is the word used to describe the adjustments your body makes as it ascends. You should adjust your schedule so that you average no more than 300 meters per day of ascent above 3,000 meters. If you fail to allow time for acclimatisation, you may develop symptoms of AMS. The AMS may be mild enough to go away with a day’s rest of if ignored may lead to death. All that is required to ensure a safe trek is basic awareness of AMS and a willingness to rest or descend if you develop symptoms. As a result of the growing awareness of altitude problems there is only one death from AMS in Nepal out of every 30,000 trekkers. Even these deaths would be avoided if everyone knew how to respond to AMS. There are no reliable figures casualties among porters.
Recognising Acute Mountain Sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can develop at any altitude over 2,000 meters. The early symptoms are headache, extreme fatigue and loss of appetite. Some people become breathless at rest. AMS is
the result of fluid accumulating in parts of the body. Where it does not belong: in the brain, in the lungs, or both. When mild symptoms develop, it is a signal that you must stay at that altitude until symptoms have gone away. Never ascend with any symptoms of AMS! Usually within one or two days you will feel well and can continue your trek.
If you are resting at the same altitude and your symptoms are becoming worse, then it is necessary to descend. Worsening symptoms of AMS include increasing tiredness, severe headache, vomiting and loss of coordination. These are signs of High Altitude Cerebral Edema or HACE. HACE can lead to unconsciousness and death within 12 hours if progressive symptoms are ignored. Increasing shortness of breath, cough and tiredness are signs of High Altitude Pulmonary Edmea or HAPE. HAPE can also be rapidly fatal if ignored. For both HACE and HAPE descent is mandatory.
A person suffering from AMS may not have clear thinking and may have to be forced to descend. Even if someone is willing to descend they should never be allowed to descend alone. Keep descending until the person shows some sign of improvement, usually after 300-500 meters of descend. Even if the diagnosis is not clear, but might be AMS, you should descend. You can always re- ascend when the person feels better.
It is best to start descending while the person who is ill can still walk. If the person can no longer walk, a yak or horse might be obtained. Porters can often be found to carry a sick person down. Do not wait for a helicopter. If you choose to administer oxygen or medications do not delay the descent to watch improvement. In summary, if you are not doing well at altitude, most likely you have some mild symptoms of AMS. Rest at the same altitude until you feel well. If you are getting worse at the same altitude, descend to at least the last point at which you felt well. If you are not sure of the diagnosis, erron the side of being too cautious. Remember severe altitude sickness is entirely preventable if you follow these guidelines.
EDGE Travel Worldwide does not recommend taking any drug to try and prevent AMS for the usual trekking routes in Nepal. It is safer to rely on a planned slow ascent. You should not plan to go to high altitude if you have known heart disease, difficulty breathing at sea level or are pregnant (recommended to stay below 3,600 meters.) For other chronic medical conditions consult your Doctor.
Physical Fitness does not Prevent AMS
Do not expect everyone in your party to acclimatise at the same rate. You may have to wait an extra day for some members or be prepared to split the group. Children are more susceptible to AMS and need to be watched closely. It is risky to trek to high altitude with infants who cannot tell you when they are not feeling well. Sleeping pills, sedatives and alcohol should not be used at altitude as they tend to decrease breathing and lead to AMS. It seems that drinking 4-6ltrs of fluids (boiled water, iodinated water, soup etc) per day to avoid dehydration helps in the acclimatisation process. Consider use of the drug Acetazolamide (Diamox) as a treatment for mountain sickness. Talk to your Doctor about its use and side effects.
In addition, other drugs are Nifedipine which is used for HAPE and Dexamethasone which is used for HACE. But remember not to take medications indiscriminately. Sometimes the side effects can be lethal. You should also know about the Gamow bag which is used. When blown up, these bags simulate pressures of lower altitude and the patient inside benefits significantly. No special precautions are needed on descent.
Evacuation by helicopter these days has become more common due to the advent of private helicopter companies and easy access of communication. However, someone in Kathmandu must guarantee the payment of the flight before the rescue. If you are trekking with a Kathmandu based trekking agency, send a rescue request to them and they will arrange the flight. If you are trekking on your own, send a message to your embassy. Send your name, nationality, location and details of the injury or sickness (that is: altitude illness, frostbite, heart problem, fracture, dysetry etc.) It almost takes at least a few hours to twenty-four hours to arrange a rescue, including passing a message. Now-a-days, the private airlines provide effective helicopter services to evacuate trekkers in an emergency. Arranging helicopter rescues through private airlines may be prompt but the charges are a bit higher. One going trekking/mountaineering should have an insurance policy that covers helicopter evacuation. If your Country has an embassy in Kathmandu register with them before you trek and record the details of insurance, if you have insurance it will speed up the rescue process.
Emergency Services for the Visitor in Nepal
Police Emergency – 100/110/122
Nepal International Clinic (Lal Durbar) – 4434642/4435357
Teaching Hospital (Maharajgunj) – 4412808/4412303
Patan Hospital (Patan) – 5522266/5522295
CIWEC Clinic – 4424111
British Embassy – 4411281/4410589
Fishtail Air – 4112230/4112217
Dynasty Heli Services – 4497418/4477560
Mountain Helicopters Pvt. Ltd – 4111031/4111032
Background to region and culture
Sagarmatha National Park (SNP,) declared in 1976, is situated in the North-East part of Nepal and covers 1,148 square km’s of the Himalayan ecological zone in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The mountains for the park are geographically young and are broken up by gorges and glacial valleys. The prime attraction, 8,848m high Mount Everest, lies in the park, which is home to two other eight thousands: Lhotse and Cho Oya, besides several other prominent peaks above 6,000m, namely; Thamserku, Nupste, Ama Dablam and Pumori. The park includes upper catchment areas of Dudhkoshi River and is largely composed of rugged terrain with deep gorges, glaciers and huge rocks. Recognising its superlative natural characteristics and unique ecosystems of international significance popularly known as universal outstanding value, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site in 1979. Gokyo and associated lakes in SNP were declared wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 2007.
The Sherpa people, whose lives are steeped in Buddhism, live in the region. The famous Tengboche and other monasteries are common gathering places where festivals such as Dumje and Mani Rimdu is celebrated. In addition to the Tenboche, some other famous monasteries are Thame, Khumjung and Panboche.
In 2002, an area of 275 square km’s surrounding the park was declared as a buffer zone, consisting of forests and private lands. The park management and local people jointly initiated community development, conservation activities and manage the natural resources in the buffer zone. The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 has made provision of ploughing back 30-50% of the park’s revenue into community development and conservation of the buffer zone.
Major Flora and Fauna
Sagarmatha National Park and its buffer zone consists of a temperature to nival zone which is rich in floral and faunal diversity. The vegetation found at lower altitudes of the park include Blue pine and hemlock forests and in between Rhododendron scrub. Alpine plant communities are common at higher altitudes including Silver fit, Juniper and Birch. Altogether 865 plant species have been recorded here out of which 62 species are globally significant. The park has a comparatively low number of mammalian species as a result of geologically recent origin of Himalayas and other climatic factors. The park is home to Red panda, snow leopard, Musk deer, Himalayan tahr, Marten, Wolf, Himalayan black bear and Himalayan mouse hare (Pika.) Many of these mammals are listed as endangered and threatened species. In addition, eight species of reptiles, seven species of amphibians and 30 species of butterflies have been recorded in the area. The park and its buffer zone provides habitat for at least 194 species of birds including the Himalayan monal, Snow cock, Blood pheasant, Red billed chough and Yellow billed chough.
One main piece of baggage which should be waterproof (a kit bag or holdall). A daysack to carry camera, water bottle etc. on trek. This should fit properly, be comfortable with a waist strap.
Total allowance 10kgs Maximum. Please note that it will be possible to store surplus kit not required on the trek at the hotel in Kathmandu.
Please note that flying from Kathmandu to Lukla your main luggage should not be over 10kg and your day sack should not be over 5kg.
Equipment to bring
Being properly equipped is one of the keys to a successful trek. Be sure that you have what you need for the actual trek.
Trek Kit Bag: Before leaving Kathmandu there is plenty of time to re-sort luggage into what you need on trek and what can be left in Kathmandu. Your trek luggage, including sleeping bag, needs to be packed into a kit bag, soft holdall, frameless rucksack or similar, to be carried by the porters/yaks. The weight limit for this is 10kg.
Advice on how to pack will be given at the trek briefing. A nylon or canvas bag with a zip along the top is suitable. Whatever you choose, it must be strong and water proof, as porters/yaks are not very gentle with baggage. Soft luggage is preferable! Framed rucksacks are unsuitable.
Daysack (38ltr to 55ltr)
During the course of a trekking day, you do not have access to the luggage which is being carried for you by the porters/yaks. In any mountain region the weather can change rapidly and you must be equipped for this eventuality. Your daysack should, therefore, be large enough to carry the following: Waterproofs, fleece, long trousers (if walking in shorts), camera, warm hat and gloves, sun hat, sun cream, water bottle (4 litres), tissues, lighter and your packed lunch.
Most people normally find that this adds up to about 10kg. Camera equipment can be heavy so think carefully when deciding what to take. Remember to carry spare batteries with you during the day. Other optional items in a day pack might be binoculars, a diary or a book to read at lunch time. It is usually more comfortable to carry a slightly larger pack which is not full than carry a small pack which is overfull or with ‘bits’ tied on to the outside. 38 litres capacity is probably the most suitable. A shoulder bag is simply not a practical alternative.
Plastic Bags & waterproofing clothing and equipment
If you pack bits and pieces in plastic bags inside your kit bag they will stay dry in case of rain and it will be easier for you to sort through. Remember, the less you have to unpack in the evening, the less you have to pack in the morning! A bin liner to pack inside your day sac is also a good idea.
Probably the trickiest part of all. We strongly recommend walking in good boots. Trainers, tennis shoes etc simply do not give the ankle support afforded by a decent pair of boots. Many people now trek in the lighter weight Goretex or leather boots. They have the advantage that they take little breaking in. The slightly heavier traditional leather walking boots are also good. Avoid the types often found in high street shoe shops, which are simply cheap trainers with a higher canvas side sewn on – they give little support and will probably not last the trek.
Above all – your boots must be well broken in and comfortable.
We do not recommend borrowing or renting boots. It is a good idea to carry your boots in your hand luggage on international flights or wear them – should your luggage be delayed, your well broken in boots are the one thing which will be irreplaceable. Gaiters are useful to keep snow and small stones out of your boots.
Trainers and Trekking Sandals
Useful around camp, in towns and when travelling.
Walking poles are recommended.
Waterproofs & Gaiters
Breathable waterproofs made from material such as Gore-Tex not only protects against rain and wind but also stops you from over-heating. They ‘breathe’ and avoid condensation which you will experience from nylon waterproofs. Gaiters are essential to keep your lower leg warm and prevent small stones getting into your boots on the summit and descent day.
After sunset, temperatures can fall below freezing. A down jacket is the lightest and most convenient way of keeping warm when the temperature drops.
Thick sweater/fleece jacket
A thick sweater or fleece jacket is necessary as nights can be very cold at altitude. Make sure that your waterproof jacket is loose enough to wear over your sweater of fleece.
Shorts can be very comfortable to walk in but you must carry long trousers with you in case you get either sunburned or cold!
Gloves & thermals
Especially useful in the morning and in the evening at higher altitudes. Marks & Spencers Thermals or Helly Hansen types are most suitable. Also bring a scarf/buff to cover your face and a warm hat/balaclava.
Comfortable around the mountain huts and much more practical (and warmer) to sleep in than pyjamas. Alternatively, thermal underwear is good – silk, cotton or synthetic.
For everyday walking, light cotton trousers are the most suitable. Jeans are not recommended as they are often difficult to walk in over longer distances and become cumbersome when wet.
It is best to wear a pair of liner socks under a pair of fairly thick loop stitch socks. This helps to protect your feet against blisters. Avoid nylon socks, they are abrasive, don’t breathe well and can cause blisters.
Wool, cotton and silk are the best materials. A fresh pair of socks every day after cleaning your feet and putting talc on them. This will help to keep them clean and free of injury.
A good pair of sunglasses are essential for protection against UV rays and glare at high altitudes.
Sun Hat, High factor Sun Cream/Block & Lip balm
Choose a high factor sun cream (Factor 30spf) to protect your skin against the sun at high altitudes. A combination sunblock/lip balm is ideal for facial protection.
A small torch is essential for finding things at night etc. Often a head torch is useful. Remember to bring some spare batteries.
Try to keep heavy cosmetics etc to a minimum. Essentials are tooth brush/tooth paste, soap, small towel, small nail brush, nail clippers. ‘Wet Wipes’ are great for a quick clean up, so bring a pack of those (non-perfumed to avoid rashes!)
Personal First Aid Kit
On each trek a First Aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin, etc. (Please do not give medicines to local people without consulting the trek leader.)
You may find ear plugs and an eye mask useful at night. (Ear plugs are essential.)
Sleeping Bag & liner
As you do not carry it yourself this may be down or synthetic, but it must be a ‘4-season’ sleeping bag. A cotton, fleece or silk liner helps keep your bag clean and warm and can add another season to your sleeping bag. A small pillow that fits inside the hood of the sleeping bag may also be useful.
Water along the trail must never be considered as drinkable. Take a 4 litre personal water bottle or reservoir (preferably insulated), and water purifying tablets. If you dislike the taste of purified water, it is a good idea to add some powdered fruit juice. Also, energy drinks, snacks, chocolate, nuts and sweets are recommended whilst on trek.
As comfortable as possible! If you take an inflatable thermarest then make sure you have repair patches for it too. This is needed for the occasions when we are sleeping in tents.
Personal medical and toiletry Kit list
- Ear Plugs
- Eye Mask
- Toilet Paper
- Nose tissues
- Baby Wipes
- Hand sanitiser
- General first aid kit
- Foot first aid kit
- Men’s toiletry essentials
- Ladies toiletry essentials
Climbing equipment for Island peak
It is possible to hire the kit in Kathmandu, however it would be a good investment to get your own for future use. (Please ask EDGE Travel Worldwide to hire the kit if you need to.) Kit needed is:
- X1 pair of Boots that crampons can fit to: make sure your boots have a semi or full ridged sole
- X1 pair of Crampons
- X1 Ice axe
- X1 Helmet (that can fit over a wooly hat/ski hat)
- X2 Jumar/ascender: left or right depending on your preference
- X1 Alpine Climbing harness
- X2 Rappel device: figure of 8 or ATC
- X6 carabiners: 3 locking and 3 regular
You must make sure you have the right travel insurance for the trip personally and also make sure you have insurance to cover medical evacuation in case of emergency. An example company to arrange this is: ACE European Group Ltd (telephone) 0207 1737796
Another consideration is what level of insurance do you need if the scheduled flight from Kathmandu to Lukla or Lukla to Kathmandu is not possible due to the weather. An alternative to or from Lukla is by helicopter – will your insurance cover this?
Vary rarely but it can happen – if it is not possible to fly from Lukla back to Kathmandu due to bad weather in order to connect with your international flight home, will your insurance cover this?
General local information
- Entry Visa – $25 from Kathmandu airport. (Take x2 passport photos with you.)
- Lukla trekking tax – $17 payable on leaving Lukla for the trek.
- Water on trek – buy bottled water en-route (price ranges from $1 to $5 per bottle) or purify
tap water en-route: Chloride, Iodine, Steri-pen.
- Mobile Phone sim cards – buy in Kathmandu.
- Baggage to Lukla (internal flight): Day-sack must be no more than 5kg and main luggage must
be no more than 10kg.
Food on trek – varied but the rule is best to be vegetarian! (Use supplements if desired.) The
main food is called ‘Dal bhat’ with rice (lental soup with rice.)
- Tips for local crew – $4 per day for each guide and porter. Tips given at the end when at Lukla
waiting to fly back to Kathmandu.
- Currency in Nepal is Nepali rupees or USD.
Summary of trek and climb with duration and elevation
- Fly to Lukla from Kathmandu (approximately 35 minutes.) Lukla: 2,840m
- Trek Lukla to Phakding (2,640m) 4hrs walk.
- Trek Phakding to Namche Bazzar (3,430m) 7hrs walk.
- Acclimatisation day at Namche Bazzar (A trek will take place to 4/5hrs going over 3,850m and
return to Namche Bazzar for overnight.) 4/5hrs walk.
- Trek Namche Bazzar to Tyangbouche (3,850m) 5hrs walk.
- Trek Tyangbouche to Dingboche (4,250m) 5/6hrs walk.
- Acclimatisation day in Dingboche 4/5hrs walk.
- Trek Dingboche to Chhukung valley (4,730m) 2/3hrs walk.
- Trek Chhukung valley to Island Peak base Camp (5,200m) 3/4hrs walk.
- Island Peak base camp training day (5,200m)
- Move from Island Peak base camp to High camp (5,600m) 2/3hrs walk.
- Summit attempt from High camp to Island Peak summit and to Chhunkung (6,189m) 8/10hrs
- Chhukung valley to Tyangboche (3,867m) 4/5hrs walk.
- Trek Tyangboche to Namche Bazzar (3,440m) 4/5hrs walk.
- Trek Namche Bazzar to Lukla (2,800m) 6/7hrs walk.