Island Peak Day to Day Itinerary - Fall
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Day 1: Depart
Day 2: Transit (overnight en route)
Day 3: Arrive in Kathmandu. Upon arrival we check into the renowned Yak and Yeti Hotel, a cornerstone of the Kathmandu scene, and attend a welcome dinner with other trekkers and climbers.
Day 4: Kathmandu. From the centrally located Yak and Yeti we begin our exploration of Kathmandu. While modern by Nepalese standards, Kathmandu is a sacred city to both Hindus and Buddhists. Our tour is an important introduction to understanding the cultures which lay ahead. Kathmandu is prominently featured in both Buddhist scriptures and Hindu texts such as the Ramayana. Our tour includes the 3000-year old Swamayabhu (monkey temple), the great Stupa of Bodnath and the chaotic Hindu temple complex of Pashupatinath. This temple is home to many Hindu ascetics or Sadhus.
Day 5: After final administration requirements, we fly via Twin Otter to the landing strip in Lukla. Weather permitting, this flight offers outstanding views of the eastern Himalayas. In Lukla, we meet and join our Sherpa staff, load the yaks and begin the ascent to base camp. Our first day is an easy walk to lush environs of Phakding, located on the Dudh Kosi river. Hiking time: 3 hours
Day 6: We follow the Dudh Kosi, ascending 2,300' through Himalayan pine and Doedar cedar forests, to the celebrated village of Namche Bazaar (11,300'). The village of Namche is an historic trading post where Nepalese and Tibetan traders exchange salt, dried meat, gold and textiles. Besides being a superb place to shop for traditional crafts, Namche remains the central trading post in the Khumbu, attracting Himalayan and lowland merchants. Our group spends two days in Namche affording us the opportunity to acclimate, visit local markets and spend time with friends in town. On the hike we capture our first glimpses of Everest and neighboring peaks. Hiking time: 5-6 hours
Day 7: In the morning the group takes an acclimatization hike, gaining 1000' to take in the vista on the patio of the Everest View Hotel. In the afternoon we have time to visit sights in Namche Bazaar, including the Sherpa museum and local marketplace.
Day 8: Perhaps one of the most fascinating days of the trek, we travel to the village of Thame (12,464'), off the main trekking path. We have the unique opportunity of visiting the home of Lakpa Rita Sherpa, our Sirdar (lead Sherpa). His family has been a mainstay of this small community, raising yaks and farming. This gives us an intimate view of Sherpa culture while visiting a traditional home. Interestingly enough, a number of famous climbing Sherpa have come from Thame. The 'Thame' experience is one rarely afforded to trekkers. Hiking time: 5 hours
Day 9: Waking early we climb to the Thame monastery and further explore local Buddhism. We tour this 400 year-old gompa and learn about its inner workings and the lives of its monks. As we tour the monastery we discuss the wall paintings and artifacts that are central to Buddhist practice. Before departure we will hopefully have the opportunity to meet and receive a blessing from the Thame Rinpoche (head priest). From Thame we walk to the beautiful village of Khunde (12,400'), one of the largest villages in the Khumbu and home of Sir Edmund Hillary's hospital and school. The day's walk is moderate and rather pretty, winding through thick cedar forest. Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 10: We continue on and climb to the village of Tengboche (12,683'), the cultural and religious center of the Khumbu. At the monastery we attend Buddhist ceremonies and rituals performed by local monks. Vistas from Tengboche are spectacular. The jagged peaks of Thamserku and Kangtega stand to our south as Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam are visible to the north. The Monastery at Tengboche is one of the most well-known in the world as the Rinpoche is revered throughout the Buddhist community and has authored a number of books and essays. In the past our groups have had an audience with the Rinpoche and received his blessing. Views from this locale (one of the finest on earth), include Kwangde 20,293' , Tawachee 21,457', Nuptse 25,843', Lhotse 27,883', Everest 29,021', Ama Dablam 22,487', Kantega 22,235', Thamserku 21,674'. We take time to visit the community Sherpa Cultural Center and excellent nearby bakery, and descend slightly to lodge in the village of Deboche. Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Day 11-12: We climb to the village of Pheriche (13,907ft/4238m) which is not far from Dingboche (a village en route to Island Peak). Pheriche has become famous for its high altitude research center. The center attracts world-renowned physicians who acquire data to analyze the effects of high altitude on human physiology. During our stay we visit the research center and learn more about the effects of high altitude on Himalayan climbers. Hiking time: 4 hours. We also spend an additional day further acclimatizing and hiking.
Day 13: Above Pheriche, the character of the terrain changes, and we begin to understand the starkness of the high alpine landscape. Our path climbs the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier and continues to the settlement of Lobuje (16,174'), where we spend one night. This trail passes through a famous memorial which honors the many Sherpa who lost their lives in the high mountains. Lobuje is located on the flank of an old lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier. Hiking time: 4-5 hours
Day 14: The trail winds past the Italian Research Center through the high tundra and glacial moraine to Gorak Shep (16,924ft/5158m), the last inhabited area before Everest Base Camp. Hiking time: 4 - 5 hours. While our Sherpa are setting up camp we make an ascent of Kala Pattar (18,300ft/5577m), a small peak with excellent views of Everest, Nuptse and nearby Pumori. Many Everest photos are taken from the summit of Kala Pattar. Gorak Shep presents a rougher environment and gives the trekker the true flavor of the nighttime rigors of mountaineering. This will be our high point of acclimatization before heading to Island peak.
Day 15: We leave Gorak Shep and cross the moraine of the great Khumbu glacier to reach Base Camp, which lies beneath the sweeping ridges of Everest and Nuptse. Everest Base Camp at 17,300ft/5273m, is a sprawling tent city set amidst glacial debris. Here the climbers begin final preparations for their ascent of Mt. Everest. We spend a few hours at base getting a sense of the community and meeting climbers before returning to Gorak Shep. During our visit to base camp we venture to the edge of the notorious Khumbu Ice Fall, and see climbers en route as they negotiate this complex maze of ice. Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 16: Waking before sunrise, we make an early ascent of Kala Pattar (18,300'), a small peak with excellent views of Everest, Nuptse and nearby Pumori. Many Everest photos are taken from the summit of Kala Pattar. We begin our return to lower altitudes and quickly feel the difference in our lungs. This night is spent in the village of Dingboche (14,450'), a stunning village of stone huts known as the summer village for local herders. The mountain views are outstanding from the Imja valley as Makalu stands in the distance. Hiking time: 6-7 hours
Day 17- 19: After moving from Dingboche with a night in Chhukung, climbers head to Island Peak Base Camp (16,690ft/5087m) which will be the starting point for our ascent the next day. The climb begins with a two hour scramble to the Imja Tse glacier. Our summit day begins from basecamps where the
route ascends the east side of the mountain. There was a 30 minute glacier walk from the crampon point to the fix line. There were two crevasses to cross, one was a long step and the other was a short ladder. The fix line runs directly up the Southeast face to the summit with only 20 feet of ridge. The line is sixty five degrees for four hundred feet, so some experience with fix lines is recommended as is previous rappelling.
Day 20 - Day 23 : After the climb we return to Lukla, via Dingboche, Tengboche and Namche.
Day 24: Early morning flight to KTM (weather permitting) and we spend much of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the deluxe services of the Yak and Yeti Hotel.
Day 25: Walking tour of the city including the temples and sites of the Durbar Square and the Thamel Section. Here we assist trekkers with their final shopping needs followed by a farewell dinner.
Day 26: Early morning departure.
Day 27: Arrive country of origin.