Island Peak – A Trekking Peak That Requires Mountaineering Skills

May 6, 2016

island-peak-climbSo for the past three weeks I have been in Nepal trekking around the Goyko and Khumbu Valley region. The trek was amazing!!

We spent two weeks sojourning through the incredible Himalaya, with special highlights of hiking up Gokyo Ri, crossing the Cho La Pass and sleeping a night at Everest Base Camp with one of the climbing expeditions. Suffice to say it was the most incredible trekking experience I have had to date.

The culmination of the experience though was to be the ascent of the 6,192m Island Peak – a trekking peak in Nepal.

I had done quite a bit of research on the trek but nothing could have prepared me for the actual experience. The route prior to 2015’s devastating earthquake looked relatively straightforward – a crossing over a glacier with a 150m ice / snow headwall climb (at 40-50 degrees) followed by a knife edge summit ridge approach.

All of these characteristics remain, but since the earthquake the glacier has opened up to large and ominous crevasses, which necessitate a ladder crossing. Let’s just say this was frightening, but thanks to our awesome Kandoo Adventures team we managed to all get across safely.

But after the glacier crossing we were faced with a headwall that resembled a crazy patchwork of broken ice, similar to an icefall / not a smooth ice wall!

The change has occurred over the past 12 months due to the earthquake and climate change.

Ascending up this type of surface was extreme and really difficult. Descending was worse. Thankfully our experienced team of climbing sherpa were along each step of the way to make the experience safe. Without them I don’t know how we would have reached the summit ridge, which itself has been sheared and shaved by weather conditions that now mean climbers traverse along the ridge as opposed to walking along it.

All in all, our Island Peak experience was an epic, but very well worth it. We all agreed reaching the summit was the hardest thing we have ever done, but by far the most rewarding.

All I recommend to future trekkers is that they have some climbing experience before taking on Island Peak. It is most certainly not a trek. You need to be comfortable wearjng and walking in crampons and using a jumar to ascend a steep ice wall, that is completely broken in places. You also need to be able to abseil or rappel down a steep face.

We used the amazing Kandoo Adventures to get us to the top of Island Peak – check them out here: http://www.kandooadventures.com/himalaya-trekking/routes/everest-treks/island-peak/. This free guide site also gave me some great Island Peak information

Trekking Routes in Nepal

August 28, 2015

Nepal-routes

Famous for its trekking, the mountains of Nepal attract thousands of hikers a year. The two most popular regions in Nepal to trek are, by far, the Everest region and the Annapurna region. Both regions offer several trekking route options that all offer something different and unique. This article is going to look briefly at each option and what you can expect on the trek.

Everest region

Everest Base Camp

Drawing over 30,000 trekkers a year, the Everest Base Camp trek is by far the most popular trek in Nepal. Following in the footsteps of Hillary and Tenzing, you arrive in Lukla and follow the Khumbu valley trail towards Base Camp. Your trek takes you past Sherpa villagers, cultivated fields, stunning vistas and up onto the peak of Kala Patthar where you will get the best view of Everest in the region! The trek culminates at Base Camp where you can get some close up views of the infamous Khumbu Icefall.

Gokyo Lakes Trek

This is a great option for trekkers that want a slightly longer route. The Gokyo Lakes trek is far less crowded and really allows you to get off the beaten path. There are three holy lakes that are a beautiful emerald green and reflect the surrounding mountains like a mirror – beautiful. Not only do you get the stunning lakes but you also pass over the dramatic Cho La pass which gives you some incredible vistas.

Annapurna region

Annapurna Circuit trek

Described as one of the best treks in the world, the Annapurna Circuit trek is a truly once in a life-time experience and should not be missed. Beginning at Besi Sahar the trek rambles along through meadows in sub-tropical conditions before rising into the higher alpine section and then passing over the famous Thorung La pass with its stunning vistas. You then descend down into the more arid region of Mustang before continuing back to your start point.

Poon Hill trek

The Poon Hill trek is an ideal option for beginner trekkers or trekkers that have less time on their hands. Poon Hill trek consists of a small circular rout that takes you to the summit of Poon Hill where you are rewarded with incredible views of the Annapurnas, Dhaulagiri and Machhapuchchre.

Annapurna Sanctuary trek

This beautiful lodge-based trek takes you up to the summit of Poon Hill on the same route as the Poon Hill trek where you get the amazing vista views of the surrounding landscape. It then takers you down into the deep valley where you follow the river along with towering mountain on either side of you forming the ‘sanctuary’.

Things to bring to Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit

March 31, 2015

annapurna-circuit-packing-listWhen pondering what to pack for a trek to Everest Base Canp or on the Annapurna Circuit, clothing should be addressed separately. Your possessions, all told, should amount to no more than 33-and-a-bit lbs when flying to Lukla or Pokhara. When you see the planes and the airport, you will appreciate why. So avoid overpacking. This is recommended by TAAN.

Inevitably, you will go for days between showers and you will perspire (horses sweat, gentlemen perspire and ladies glow). You must accept that you will smell somewhat “fruity,” which is easier considering that everybody else will, too. The necessary toiletries are hand sanitiser, shampoo, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, a razor for males, deodorant, SPF50 sun cream, wet wipes because water will be too cold for washing, a generous supply of toilet paper considering that there is little chance of finding any at a tea house, and a small medical kit. This latter should include ibuprofen, imodium, nail clippers, neosporin, plasters, surgical tape and diamox for altitude sickness. 12 diamox tablets can be purchased in Kathmandu for around $4, which is rather less than the cost of a prescription in the United Kingdom. When performing your ablutions, you will of course require a towel, which should be quick-dry.

In the way of electronics, you are likely to feel the need for an iPad for uploading photos, an iPhone which will function periodically, headphones, a camera and chargers. You will save yourself some money if you have a solar-powered battery pack rather than a charger.

A Steripen for water purification is a very good idea, as water purification tablets usually take half an hour and have such a lovely taste. You will need a small bag which will be carried by your porter, a daypack with cover you will carry and two water bottles of which one is Nalgene style for easy Steripen purification and one Swix style which is metal and can be taken to bed, heated. It is also wise to bring a Camelbak that fits inside your daypack and enables hands-free hydration. A sleeping bag liner or silk sleep sheet will prevent blankets or a sleeping bag from reeking to excess. Undertaking a mid-night bathroom run and reading after lights-out are occasions when you will feel the need for a headlamp, and the former will surely come to pass owing to that confection of mountain air and diamox tablets. A book and playing cards will keep you occupied of an evening. You will wish to have a written record of your doings, so bring a journal and pen.

On a final note, chocolate, granola or energy bars will provide a mid-hike power boost. Trekking poles will be a lifesaver during steep ascents. A face mask will be useful – the trek can be dusty.

Here is a link to a brilliant Annapurna Circuit Packing List, and here is another link to a great Everest Base Camp Packing List.