Island Peak Day to Day Itinerary
Upon sign up, we will send you our richly detailed, pre-trip information package.
Day 1-3: Fly from U.S. to Kathmandu. (You'll overnight en route and arrive on Day 3). You'll 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: From the centrally located Yak and Yeti, we'll begin our exploration of Kathmandu. While modern by Nepalese standards, Kathmandu is a sacred city to Hindus and Buddhists. Our tour is an important introduction to the cultures we'll discover ahead. Kathmandu is prominently featured in Buddhist scriptures and Hindu texts, such as the Ramayana. Our tour includes the 3,000-year-old Swamayabhu (monkey temple), the great Stupa of Bodnath, and a tour of a local school.
Day 5: After final administration requirements, we'll fly via Twin Otter to the landing strip in Lukla. Weather permitting, this flight offers outstanding views of the eastern Himalayas. In Lukla, we'll join our Sherpa staff, load the yaks and begin the ascent to base camp. Our first day offers an easy three-hour hike to the lush environs of Phakding, located on the Dudh Kosi river.
Day 6: We We'll follow the Dudh Kosi, ascending 2,300 ft./700m through Himalayan pine and Doedar cedar forests, to the celebrated village of Namche Bazaar (11,300 ft./3,444m). 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 will spend 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, we'll take an acclimatization hike, gaining 1,000 feet to take in the vista on the patio of the Everest View Hotel (or a similar altitude trek). In the afternoon, we'll have time to visit sights in Namche Bazaar, including the local marketplace.
Day 8: On perhaps one of the most fascinating days of the trek, we'll travel to the village of Thame (12,464 ft./3,800m), off the main trekking path. We'll have the unique opportunity of visiting the home of Lakpa Rita Sherpa, our Sirdar (lead Sherpa) and Everest climbing guide. 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. Following afternoon tea, we climb to the Thame monastery and further explore local Buddhism. We'll tour this 400 year-old gompa (monastery) and learn about its inner workings and the lives of its monks. As we view the monastery, we'll discuss the wall paintings and artifacts that are central to Buddhist practice. Hopefully, we'll have the opportunity to meet and receive a blessing from the Thame Rinpoche (head priest). Hiking time: 5 hours.
Day 9: From Thame, we'll walk to the beautiful village of Khunde (12,400 ft./3,780m), 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 pretty, winding through thick cedar forest. Hiking time: 6 hours
Day 10: We'll continue on and climb to the village of Tengboche (12,683 ft./3865m), the cultural and religious center of the Khumbu. At the monastery we'll 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 ft./6,185m), Tawachee (21,457 ft./6540m), Nuptse (25,843 ft./7876m), Lhotse 27,883ft/8498m, Everest 29,035ft/8850m, Ama Dablam 22,487ft/6854m), Kantega (22,235 ft./6,777m), Thamserku (21,674 ft./6,606m). We'll 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
Days 11-12: We'll climb to the village of Pheriche (13,907 ft./4,238m), 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'll visit the research center and learn more about the effects of high altitude on Himalayan climbers. Hiking time: 4 hours. (We'll also spend an additional day of acclimatizing and hiking.)
Day 13: Above Pheriche, the character of the terrain changes, and we'll 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 ft./4,929m), where we'll spend one night. This trail passes through a famous memorial that 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 (16,924 ft./5158m), the last inhabited area before Everest Base Camp. Hiking time: 4 - 5 hours.
While our Sherpa set up camp, we'll make an ascent of Kala Pattar (18,300 ft./5,577m), 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'll 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 17,300 ft./5273m), is a sprawling tent city set amidst glacial debris. Here, climbers begin final preparations for their ascent of Mt. Everest. We'll 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'll 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: Feeling refreshed by the lower altitude, we'll descend to the village of Dingboche. Dingboche is a stunning village of stone huts known as the summer village for local herders. The mountain views, with Makalu in the distance, are outstanding from this valley.
Days 17-19: Trekkers will descend back through Tengboche and Namche to Lukla, with a flight back to Kathmandu on Day 20.
After moving from Dingboche with a night in Chhukung, climbers will head to Island Peak Base Camp (16,690 ft./5,087m) which will be the starting point for our ascent the next day. The climb will begin with a two-hour scramble to the Imja Tse glacier. After donning crampons, we'll cross the glacier and ascend to the picturesque southwest ridge. As we follow this narrow ridge, Makalu begins to rise in front of us over the holy peak of Cho Polu and the stunning South Face of Lhotse stands above us (8,000 ft./2,438m) to the left. From the summit of Island Peak (20,305 ft./6,188m), the views of the Imja Valley and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. After relaxing and enjoying this vista, we'll descend to Base Camp and prepare for our return to Lukla.
Days 20-23: We'll return to Lukla, via Dingboche, Tengboche and Namche.
Day 24: We'll take an early morning flight to Kathmandu (weather permitting) and spend much of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the deluxe services of the Yak and Yeti hotel.
Day 25: We'll take a walking tour of the city, including the temples and sites of Durbar Square and the Thamel section. We'll also assist trekkers with their final shopping needs, and follow with a farewell dinner.
Days 26-27: Early morning departure for the U.S.