via Everest Base Camp & Gokyo Lakes
P3 - This trip is physically tough. Frequent exercise is necessary to prepare properly for this expedition. Regular walking mixed with training at the gym to build up endurance and cardiovascular fitness is key. Expect to be able to do 8 hour days in hilly and often steep train, carrying a pack of 6-10kg in weight with the occasional extra long day.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
T3 - May involve harder scrambling or some trekking and climbing with ropes. If snow is encountered then glacier travel with ropes, ice axes and crampons will be necessary. Basic climbing skills is ideal, but will also be taught and certainly practiced during the expedition and pre-summit phase.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
Date & Prices
Pics & Vids
Island Peak, 6,189m is tucked away amongst the many striking summits of the Khumbu Valley. An unparalleled first expedition to 6,000m this spectacular summit is attainable to fit trekkers with moderate technical skills.
During this breathtaking expedition you’re fully immersed in the Nepal experience by first trekking to the iconic Everest Base Camp via the spectacular Gokyo Lakes. It’s the perfect place to acclimatise before the big push. Here you’ll spend the day soaking up the incredible culture, Sherpa hospitality and jaw-dropping scenery. Initially dwarfed by the vast walls of its 8,000m neighbours Island Peak begins to make its presence felt – it’s a mountain that takes pleasure in unveiling its secrets slowly! To reach the spectacular summit you’ll be challenged continuously; rocky out-crops, broken glaciers sporting huge crevasses, a steep 200m head-wall and finally a knife-sharp ridge that brings you to the summit. It’s not your average trekking peak but the rewards you experience resting at the top and taking in your achievement will empower you for years to come.
Meticulously supported by our highly experienced Western guides and Sherpa team you will be in safe hands as the expedition unfolds. We know the mountain and the valley intimately and will teach you every skill you need to achieve this spectacular goal.Find out more
Date & Prices
Departure & Return
Price (excl. flight)
Price (incl. flight)
Start: 28 April 2020
End: 21 May 2020
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £3,630
28 April 2020
21 May 2020
- International & domestic flights plus taxes
- Local guides and a 360 guide (depending on group size)
- Sagarmatha National park fees
- Equipment & clothing for porters & local crew
- Accommodation during trek (tent on camping trek or lodge)
- Accommodation in Kathmandu sharing doubles or twins with breakfast
- Airport transfers
- All food whilst on trek, breakfast and dinner on first night and celebration meal
- 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor
- Monthly payment plan, on request
- Personal equipment
- Staff/guide gratuities
- Alcoholic beverages
- Trip Insurance
- Items of a personal nature; phone calls, laundry, room service, etc
- Unscheduled hotels and restaurant meals
- Lunches in Kathmandu and dinner on night 21
- Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early including any airline surcharges as a result of changing return airline tickets
Pics & Vids
DAY 1 : Depart UK
Today we will depart the UK from London Heathrow airport
DAY 2 : Kathmandu
Arrive Kathmandu mid-afternoon and transfer to hotel before soaking up some local colour regrouping in the evening for a full 360 brief and kit check.
DAY 3 : Lukla (2,800m) – Phakding (2,610m)
An early morning flight into Lukla, from where we begin our trek into the Khumbu region. The views from the plane are amazing, providing dramatic scenes of terraced hills and the distant Himalayan giants. After landing we meet our ground crew and begin a 3-4 hour trek to Phakding (2,610m), our night’s resting place.
DAY 4 : Namche Bazaar (3,400m)
We continue trekking along the banks of the Dudh Kosi, crossing this roaring river on exciting suspension bridges. As we enter the Sagamartha National Park, we begin to climb with breathtaking views to Namche Bazaar, the gateway to the Khumbu region. After a full days trekking we rest for the night in Namche Bazaar.
DAY 5 : Namche Bazaar
Today we rest and acclimatise in Namche Bazaar. Namche is the Sherpa capital and a bustling village crammed with markets and traditional Sherpa houses. We take an early morning hike to the Sherpa museum where we see views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse (the 4th highest peak in the world) and the beautiful Ama Dablam. The Sherpa Museum houses an exhibit of traditional Sherpa lifestyles and a fabulous photography display. The rest of the day is for private exploration of this enchanting place.
DAY 6 : Dhole (4110m)
We climb the Khumjung hill and descend to the east of the village down the broad valley leading to the Dudh Koshi from where the route turns north. We visit Mohang, the birthplace of the re-incarnated Lama of Rongbuk Monastery of Tibet who is believed to have introduced Buddhism in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The trail descends in a series of steep switchbacks down a sandy slope to the Dush Koshi. We stay overnight in Dhole (4110m).
DAY 7 : Machermo (4,470m)
From Dhole it is an uphill climb to Machhermo. We walk on a trail alongside a rhododendron forest and pass through a waterfall before reaching Tongba Village. We continue our uphill trek and pass through Dhole, Labarma and Luza villages before reaching Machhermo. There is a Chorten right before the Luza village. Throughout today’s journey we will be walking alongside the Dudh Koshi River. Overnight in Machhermo.
DAY 8 : Rest day in Machermo
This is a day to acclimatise and allow our bodies to adjust to the rarefied atmosphere now we have gone above 4,000m.
DAY 9 : Machermo to Gokyo (4750m)
We begin today by climbing a ridge for an excellent view down the valley to Kangtaiga and also up towards Cho Oyu (8153 m). The valley now widens and we descend to the riverbank before climbing onto the terminal moraine of the Ngazumpa Glacier on a steep trail. Upon crossing an iron bridge over a stream, the trail levels out as it follows the valley past the first lake, known as Longpongo, at 4690 m. At the sight of the second lake, Taboche Tsho, we become mesmerized by the shimmering turquoise blue sheet of water sparkling in the sun. the third lake is linked by a surging strem. Gokyo village stands by the third lake and Cho-Oyu Mountain as a backdrop sets an amazing spectacular view. After lunch, we explore around the third lake, Dudh Pokhari. Overnight in Gokyo.
DAY 10 : Rest Day / Ascent of Gokyo Ri
We can spend this day taking a rest in the Gokyo Valley or hike up Gokyo Ri.
Climbing to the top is demanding as it is steep and takes about 3 to 4 hours. But the scenery of Gokyo village, on the edge of third lake overlooked by Cholatse and the broad Nogzumpa Glacier, is magnificent. We are surrounded by panoramic mountains like Kusum Kanguru, Thamserku, Kangtega, Taboche, Cholatse, Makalu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Everest, Changtse, and Pumori. The sight of sunrays kissing Everest which towers over all the surrounding peaks is astounding.
We trek back to Gokyo and spend the night.
DAY 11 : Trek to Thangnag (4700m)
We trek through the Ngazumpa Glacier to the mountain on the other side. Next, we traverse along the edge of that mountain and then meander into Thagnak. It will be a short hike today with an afternoon of rest which will prepare us for long hiking days and elevation gain to come.
DAY 12 : Trek to Dzonghla (4830m) via Cho La Pass (5367m)
Today is going to be one of the toughest days of the trip. The Cho La pass is not itself difficult, but it is steep and involves a glacier traverse on the eastern side. We need to be careful as the trail is vertical and the rocks glazed by ice may cause trouble by making the trail slippery. The trail from Phedi climbs through a ravine and a rocky trail. While trekking through the side of a frozen lake, we reach the top of the pass decorated with prayer flags. The pyramidal Ama Dablam presides over a range of mountains on the south even as Cholatse soars to the west and Lobuche East and Baruntse rises sharply to our right. We need to pass through some crevasses before we reach Dzongla Village. The village provides great views of these mountains along with the Pheriche Village far below.
DAY 13 : Dzongla to Lobuche (4940 m)
This will be a very short trek so we have a lot time to relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. We climb down from Dzongla and walk through a grassy trail while enjoying the view of Lobuche Peak. The trail curves through the wide river bed before reaching Lobuche. We can spend the rest of day taking a rest which will help us prepare for the next day’s long trek. Overnight in Lobuche.
DAY 14 : Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5,170 m) and Kala Patthar (5550m)
We take the trail to Everest Base Camp through the once vast Gorak Shep Lake. The walk is strenuous due to thin air in the high altitude.
From Gorak Shep we ascend the non-technical Kala Patthar (5,550m) and are rewarded for our efforts by unbeatable views. From this lofty perch we can clearly see the summit of Mount Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. This is simply an amazing panorama and we’ll allow ample time to savour the rewards of your efforts.
DAY 15 : Trek to Everest Base Camp (5357m) and return to Gorak Shep
We make the short hike from Gorak Shep to reach Everest Base Camp and a sea of tents.
Nuptse, Khumbuste and Pumori are the mountains we can view from base camp.
After plenty of time savouring the views we get back to Gorak Shep for a good night’s rest. Overnight in Gorak Shep.
DAY 16 : Trek to Dingboche (4410m)
Today we follow the route back down the Khumbu valley to Dingboche in readiness for the next phase of our expedition.
DAY 17 : Island Peak base Camp (4970m)
Today we hike away from the trekkers heading to and from EBC into the relative quietness of the Island Peak valley. Towering above us is the enormous Lhotse south face, one of the world’s highest walls. Ahead of us lies our own objective and as we approach the route of ascent becomes more obvious. We reach base camp after 6 hours having gained 300m in altitude. Island Peak Base Camp will be our home for a couple of nights and will be our first taste of expedition camping (total 3 – 4 nights in tents).
DAY 18 : Island Peak Base Camp (4970m)
Today the emphasis will be on resting up, ahead of the ascent. After breakfast your 360 guide will spend a few hours demonstrating the necessary skills needed to climb the headwall as well as moving on the glaciers. A few hours will also be allocated to checking if equipment fits and that everyone has what is needed for the ascent. The final dress rehearsal.
DAY 19 : Summit of Island Peak (6189m)
Starting in the early hours after a light breakfast of tea and biscuits we climb up a rocky gully before traversing to the right. Soon we reach the glacier where we rope up until the South ridge. Then we follow this beautiful alpine ridge to the summit. Finally the end result of our hard work. The summit of Island Peak! It is time for those well-earned hugs and backslaps and letting those cameras turn red hot as we capture the splendour around us. The summits we have come to know so well during our ascent take on a totally different perspective and a little time is spent taking in the 360 panorama. Then we leave and head down to base camp for a short rest before continuing down to Chhukung.
DAY 20 : Trek to Namche (3440m)
Today we descend back down the Khumbu Valley to Namche (3440m).
DAY 21 : Trek to Lukla (2800m)
Our last day on the trail, we hike from Namche to Lukla. We stay overnight in Lukla and enjoy a very welcome beer.
DAY 22 : Kathmandu
The scenic morning flight back to Kathmandu gives us one last chance to say farewell to the mountains. We will have the day to explore, go shopping, visit the palaces and markets. An enduring favourite destination is the Monkey Temple, a Buddhist temple situated on a small hill that offers panoramic views of the city. Or perhaps we will join the thousands of Hindus who venture to the Pashupatinath temple, one of the most famous Hindu temples in Nepal; we will also visit the most famous Shiva temple in Asia.
DAY 23 : Explore Kathmandu
This is a day to explore Kathmandu some more and is built into the program in the event that the flights don’t leave Lukla the previous day, owing to bad weather grounding the planes.
DAY 24 : Flight to UK
This is either a morning flight which will bring you back to London Heathrow in the evening or it is an overnight flight therefore arriving back in the early hours on the following day.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the trek and what you will experience.
Bags & Packs
A 120-140L duffel bag to transport kit. A duffel bag is a strong, soft, weather resistant bag without wheels but with functional straps for carrying. Suitcases and wheeled bags are not suitable
Waterproof rucksack cover
To protect rucksack from rain
Approx. 40L capacity. Your day to day pack that you carry with your daily essentials, fitted with shoulder straps and importantly a waist belt
Nylon rolltop bags (or even just large plastic bags) that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks
Small kit bag or light bag
This is for any kit you intend to leave at the hotel and could even simply be a heavy duty plastic bag
For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag
4 Season sleeping bag
You should get a sleeping bag rated to -20C and choose a sleeping bag that functions within the comfort rating of this temperature. A silk sleeping bag liner will enhance this rating on the coldest nights
Sleeping bag liner
Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer
Full length self-inflating rather than ¾ length Thermarest
This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head
Wide brimmed hat
Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck
Essential for protection from the sun and dust
Worth spending money on good UV filters. For glacier work category 4 with side and nose protectors. Julbo is our preferred supplier
Category 3 for days when it may be snowing and very windy. Very useful on summit day
Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude
Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection
This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion
These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack
Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece
Light insulated jacket
A lighter jacket such as a Primaloft or lightweight down which can be worn at lower to mid altitudes is a great addition to your kit offering greater flexibility with layering
These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof
Essential waterproof, windproof kit, should be big enough to fit over several other layers and breathable. Heavy and bulky ski jackets are not suitable for this expedition
These provide the best insulation and are worth every penny. Ask advice in the shop (or from us) when buying the jacket and say you want it rated to -25C and the assistant will recommend the correct fill for you
Consider liners or a light polartec pair for lower altitudes and evenings, and a thicker waterproof pair like ski gloves for higher altitudes
Down mitts & waterproof mitts
Essential for higher altitudes and cold temperatures. To be worn with a liner glove underneath and waterproof & windproof layer over the top.
These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts
Windproof or thermal lined trekking trousers for higher altitudes and the summit phase. Thermal leggings can still be worn underneath if necessary
Thermal insulation for the lower body
Like the jacket, an essential piece of kit to stay dry and should also be Goretex
Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you
Well worn in 4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support
High altitude boots
These boots are double or triple layered to offer the best insulation and the warmest feet up high. Either La Sportiva G2 SMs, Scarpa Phantom 6000s, La Sportiva Spantiks or 8,000m boots are suitable. Make sure you can fit 2 pairs of socks for added warmth with room to wiggle your toes.
High altitude socks
These are especially thick to provide maximum insulation. Bring three pairs, keep one pair clean for summit day, and wear with a thinner inner
Start with lighter socks lower down, working up to thicker pairs for higher up as it gets colder. Some people like a clean pair every day, others are happy to change every other day – that’s a personal choice
Just in case
Trainers for camp, saves stomping around in heavy boots for the entire day
We recommend Petzl harnesses. Try a variety on in a shop before you buy to ensure a good fit. Legs clips are a good option and avoids having to step into the harness to put it on
A plastic helmet is more suitable rather than the expanded foam helmets available. Make sure you try it on in a shop with a woolly hat underneath
Left or right handed, your choice. Also sometimes called an Ascender.
HMS Locking karabiners
Climbing equipment, for attaching a rope to your harness
A walking ice axe between 55cm and 65cm. Go to an outdoor shop and try different ones for weight and size so that you get one that feels good to you
12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates that fit your specific boots (not ice climbing crampons)
Figure of 8
Figure of 8 or other descendeur for abseiling if you can do so confidently. Your guides and climbing Sherpas will help you descend if you are not practised at abseiling alone
3L equivalent – Camelbaks are useful at lower altitudes but have a tendency to freeze up at higher altitudes without insulation tubes, Nalgene bottles are better at altitude. We suggest a combination of a 2L bladder and 1L bottle or 2 x ½L bottles to put in your jacket for summit night
Purification tablets are better than any other system. Highly unlikely to be needed. Always good to have in your bag
Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!
Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect
These are great for washing when shower facilities become a thing of the past
A must have for good camp hygiene
For early stages and once back down
Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between camps
Nappy sacks or dog poo bags
Only needed to bag your toilet paper if you are caught short in between camps and for keeping your rubbish tidy in your tent
Personal first aid kit
Blister patches, plasters, antiseptic, painkillers etc
Keep this in your daysack
Bring spare batteries
These tend to be a personal preference but help with your stability and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming down hill
Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards
You will be fed very well and given snacks each day however we advise bringing a small selection as a little bit of comfort. Extra snacks can be bought en-route if needed. Energy gels and protein bars are not suitable for this expedition
These are useful to keep electricals charged but are a luxury rather than a necessity
Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.
Copy of passport
Just in case
Passport photos x 4
You will need this for visas and other bureaucratic impediments. For Himalayan countries a copy of your passport photo is needed for your expedition permi
A visa can either be obtained from the Nepalese Embassy in London or on arrival at Kathmandu airport. Costs are: 30 days – $40 and 90 days – $100. Non UK residents should check with the Nepalese Embassy
Dental check up
We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap
We recommend you take around $150 onto the mountain in small denominations to tip the Sherpa team. Plus about $250 for any extras along the way, satellite phone calls etc.
Copy of own travel insurance details. And relevant contact numbers.
We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
What information can you give on Nepal?
Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is located in the Himalayas with a population of approximately 27 million. Bordered to the north by the China, and to the south, east, and west by India and across the Himalayas lies the Tibet.
A monarchy throughout most of its history, Nepal was ruled by the Shah dynasty of kings from 1768, when Prithvi Narayan Shah unified its many small kingdoms. However, a decade-long Civil War by the Communist Party of Nepal and several weeks of mass protests by all major political parties led to elections for a constituent assembly in May 2008 which overwhelmingly favored the abdication of the Nepali monarch Gyanendra Shah and the establishment of a federal multiparty representative democratic republic. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and the country’s largest city. Kathmandu Valley itself has estimated population of 5 million.
Nepal has a rich geography. The mountainous north has eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, called Sagarmatha in Nepali. It contains more than 240 peaks over 6,096 m above sea level. The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized.
What information can you give on the Sherpa people?
The Sherpa people are the predominant ethnic group living in the eastern Himalayan region of Nepal. In 2001 there were approximately 150,000 Sherpas in Nepal. Their language is a variant of Tibetan. Sherpas belong to the Nyingmapa, the “Red Hat Sect” of Tibetan Buddhism. Allegedly the oldest Buddhist sect in Tibet, it emphasizes mysticism and local deities shared by the pre-Buddhist Bon religion, which has shamanic elements, in addition to Buddha and the great Buddhist divinities, the Sherpa also have believe in numerous gods and demons who are believed to inhabit every mountain, cave, and forest. These have to be worshiped or appeased through ancient practices that have been woven into the fabric of Buddhist ritual life. Indeed, it is almost impossible to distinguish between Bon practices and Buddhism.
Sherpas are highly regarded as elite mountaineers. They were immeasurably valuable to early explorers of the Himalayas, serving as guides at the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region, particularly for expeditions to climb Mt. Everest. Today, Sherpa is a term often used casually to refer to almost any guide or porter hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas. Sherpas are renowned in the international climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at high altitudes. It has been speculated that a portion of the Sherpas’ climbing ability is the result of a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes.
What is the climate?
Daytime temperatures in Kathmandu will be warm and can reach as high as over 30°C. On trek the daytime temperatures can warm to over 20°C when the sun is out. At higher elevations, if there is little sun or during evening, temperatures can be well below freezing.
What is the currency?
Nepalese Rupee – this can only be obtained in Nepal. Currency equivalent to approximately £300 should be sufficient for the duration of your stay in Nepal. This will include enough to cover tips for the whole trip. It is recommended that this currency should be brought in US Dollars or a mixture of USD and Sterling.
Advice on tipping?
Although not obligatory, these will be much appreciated by the local staff and your 360 Leader.
As a guide we recommend tipping $160 for the local staff and whatever you feel you want to give for the 360 Leader.
What is the local time?
GMT + 5 hours 45 mins.
Food and Water
What is the food like on the mountain?
We stay in lodges known locally as tea houses and these have basic kitchens. Apart from generators there is no electricity in the Khumbu region and the food is usually cooked on big stoves and ovens fuelled by wood or yak dung. Despite this the range of food produced is fantastic and the menus are very comprehensive.
The majority of the meals focus on fueling the hungry trekker by providing plenty of carbohydrates. Pastas, rice based dishes, spring rolls and pizzas are the staples. Every single ingredient is brought up either on a yak or by a porter and as such the menus get a little simpler as you get to the higher lodges. Most of our midday meals are also eaten at trail side restaurants and are usually accompanied by a hot drink or two. On top of well-balanced meals clients are provided with coffee, tea and snacks upon arrival into the lodge and at all mealtimes.
Clients are invited to bring along any of their favourite snacks and goodie bags from home as buying additional snacks from the lodges can be expensive. Concentrate on high energy foodstuffs such as Jelly Babies to give you that little boost on an arduous day.
Meals on the trek in and at base camp will include fresh fruits and vegetables. Lightweight nutritious foods are prepared higher on the mountain.
I have food allergies, can these be catered for?
Absolutely, please inform the office of any allergies or intolerances and we will ensure that these are taken into account on the trek.
Where does the drinking water come from?
For the first days bottled drinking water will be used (up to Namche Bazaar). At the higher lodges we will use locally sourced drinking water from streams or springs. These are usually fresh being topped up from melt water above or by rainfall but we also increase their purity by treating the water with purification tablets and by boiling it. We always ensure that our drinking water is 100% bug free.
How often is fresh water available for replenishing during the day?
Before leaving the lodge in the morning you will fill your water bottles or camel bladder. If this runs low you will have ample more water to replace it with. For most walking days water can be replenished at the lunch time site.
What kind of accommodation is there on the trek?
The approach to Island Peak is through the Khumbu region. For the initial week of the trek lodges (known locally as Tea Houses) will be our accommodation. These are comfortable and offer good quality meals. The teahouses vary in their quality and style depending on their location. Generally they have a communal room downstairs, with one or two bedrooms above them. Some have shower facilities, some will just have a stand pipe, and there are shared toilet facilities. They use a type of wood burning stove in the main communal area. Other rooms are generally unheated.
There are no facilities for changing money in the teahouses. We recommend that you organise sufficient cash in Kathmandu, your local guide can advise on this.
There is electricity in many of the teahouses at lower altitudes, but not when you get higher and the teahouses become more basic. A top tip for making your batteries last a little longer is to put them in the inside pocket of your coat or under your pillow at night. Cooler temperatures drain battery life so keeping them warm will ensure they last longer.
Once on the glacier, we will be camping.
Will I have my own room/tent?
Most altitude related symptoms manifest themselves at night. We therefore recommend room sharing from the onset of all our expeditions. Room share is always organised according to sex and where possible age groups. Obviously if you are climbing this mountain with a friend or partner then share rooms with them. If you have joined the team by yourself then it is highly likely that you will be sharing a room with your pre-assigned room buddy unless prior arrangements have been made. We use high quality 3 man tents to be shared between 2 people to provide extra space for your comfort.
Health and Safety
What happens if there is a problem on the trek?
All our guides are in communication with each other by phone and radio. In addition the national park operates a rescue service. This service is linked by radio to the park headquarters. In the vast majority of cases of emergency rescue the problems can be attributed to altitude and if so the solution is immediate descent to lower altitudes. Our local mountain crew are all experienced in dealing with any problem that might arise. Our guides are either doctors or hold the highest standard of wilderness first aid qualifications and can handle any emergency to the highest level of competency, rarely requiring national park assistance.
Am I likely to suffer from altitude sickness on this expedition?
There are different types of altitude sickness. Although our acclimatisation regime ensures that everybody enjoys the best possible chance of getting high on the mountain, altitude related problems can happen. The most common of this is high altitude sickness, (AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness).
Symptoms for this generally include:
It all sounds quite dramatic but generally this is just the process your body naturally goes through to adjust to the higher altitudes and the reduced partial pressure of the atmosphere. For some people the acclimatisation process is a little longer and harder than others.
For our guides this is all part and parcel of trekking at relatively high altitude and ascending a 6,000m peak and although we asses each client’s personal situation carefully we also further consider the compounding affects of dehydration brought on by excessive vomiting and lack of appetite.
AMS might sound frightening but our guides are fully trained (and experienced) in helping relieve your symptoms and providing advice on how to best proceed.
We don’t recommend using Diamox as a prophylactic and if you have been prescribed it by your GP, please raise this with your expedition leader.
What can I do to help prevent AMS?
In most cases AMS can be avoided by following guidelines:
- Drink lots of water
- Walk slowly
- Stay warm
- Eat well
We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the various affects that altitude can cause. During your pre-climb briefing, we describe altitude sickness to you in detail, and advise you how to cope with it.
The most important thing is not to fear it, but to respect it and to know how to deal with it and more importantly tell your guides how you feel. Our guides have seen every condition that can occur on this trek, and they will always know how to deal with problems.
Is there a risk of getting HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) and HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) on the mountain?
HACE and HAPE rarely occur on this trek and our guides are fully trained in recognition of the onset of these problems and will deal with them at the first sign of their development.
What happens if I am unable to summit due to ill-health or altitude sickness?
Unfortunately people can get ill on the mountain. Your expedition leader is constantly monitoring your health and should you get ill with either altitude sickness or any other illness he will be discussing your options with you from an early stage. Should it become apparent that you are unlikely to be able to summit (without it being a life-threatening situation requiring a medivac) you will be turned around accompanied by one of our experienced sherpas at all times until the group rejoins you. As this is outside the itinerary you would need to meet any additional costs incurred as a result, and that is why we insist on travel insurance.
Do I need to take Malarial drugs?
The Malaria protozoa generally do not survive over an altitude of 1,500m so once we have started the trek malaria poses no threat. (Lukla is at 2,700m). When visiting the lowland regions of Nepal or going to India it may be advisable to seek advice about if and when to take the malarial prophylactics. When visiting these places the chances of contracting malaria can be reduced by standard precautions such as sleeping under mosquito nets, applying insect repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts and trousers.
We advocate you visit your local doctor before departure to get the latest advice, MASTA Travel Health clinics, or many larger local hospitals have travel clinics.
You advocate taking a small first aid kit, what should it have in it?
We advocate a little bit of self-help on the trek. If you have a blister developing for example then please stop take off your boot and treat it before it becomes a problem.
Your own first aid kit should contain: a basic blister kit, plasters, antiseptic, sun-protection, your own personal medication (sometimes your porter might get to camp after you and if he is carrying your medication you may not be able to take it according to the regime you are used to), basic pain relief (aspirin or paracetemol), a personal course of antibiotics if prone to illness etc. Foot powder in your socks every morning is great for preventing blisters.
Generally the best approach to packing your first aid kit is to include such basic medications as if you would on a family or personal holiday.
Your 360 expedition leader and/or a local porter (we call the ambulance man!) carries a very comprehensive first aid kit which contains a wide range of supplies and medications. They are fully trained to use whatever is needed for any emergency that may arise. We advocate keeping this in mind when packing your own first aid supplies and keeping your own FA kit as compact and light as possible.
What vaccinations do I need?
The following vaccinations are recommended:
- Hepatitis A
This list is not absolute and it is important you should see your GP Surgery or travel clinic for latest recommendations and to ensure you are up to date on necessary vaccinations.
What clothing should I wear on the mountain?
We advocate the beg, steal and borrow principle for first timers, instead of buying brand new stuff that may never get used again. The cost of equipment is usually a major deterrent for people coming onto trips in the first place.
Our guides usually start the walk wearing long, lightweight trekking trousers and T-shirts. Long trousers are recommended as a deterrent to insects, stinging plants and to act as sun protection. Sunglasses are worn for most of the trek as well as suitable sunhats.
Shorts can also be worn on the initial few days of the trek as the temperature is usually warm. Ensure that you apply sunprotection frequently, or buy a once a day product such as P20 if you’re not very good at remembering to apply it. The prevailing conditions on the mountain will dictate what you will wear: if it is cold when you leave the camp in the morning then wear your fleece. As things warm up take advantage of the zipper system which most trekking clothing has – open and close the zips to adjust to your own preferred temperature. If you get too warm then take a layer off.
Waterproofs are needed on hand at all times. Island Peak is a huge mountain that creates its own weather system. It is not unusual to be caught out in an afternoon rainstorm low down on the trek. Waterproofs should be Goretex material or similar.
Over the top of your clothing you will wear a climbing harness and be attached to a rope when on high passes/summit day.
What do your guides wear on summit day?
On summit day it gets cold and temperatures of -20C are not unusual.
Typically our guides wear 2 sets of base layers (long johns), a thick fleece layer (top and bottom) and then on the legs waterproofs whilst on the upper torso a down jacket is worn. As the wind picks up near the summit ridge our guides will put on their windproof layer to ward of the wind chill. On their hands they’ll wear a thin layer of fleece working gloves over the top of which a thicker set of ski gloves or mittens is worn. Their heads are covered by a thermal beanie hat or a thick balaclava and the hood of their down jackets. On their feet the guides wear one pair of thin socks and one pair of thick.
On summit day our guides wear snow goggles and use waterproofs as an invaluable windshield to protect them against the effect of wind chill when a strong wind blows.
What is the best type of footwear to use?
Plastic boots are essential for climbing 6,000m peaks. However you will only be using your plastic boots for the mountain phase of this trek. You will not be wearing them on the trek to the base camp. These boots should be the double boot (with a soft inner and hard plastic shell) the basic model would be Scarpa Vega’s or La Sportiva Spantiks. Temperatures high on the mountain are usually well below -20 and only plastic boots can withstand such conditions.
Ensure that you have tried the boots on before you leave home and that you can wear a thin and a thick pair of socks in them and still be able to wriggle your toes (adequate circulation).
Because of the huge variety of terrain encountered on the trekking phase it is very important to wear the right footwear. Trekking boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support.
In addition it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters. A range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found online or at your local gear store.
Crampons are worn for a majority of the time you spend on the glacier and for the actual summit day itself. Your crampons should preferably be of the easy “heel clip” variety (rather than the strap systems which are fiddly). It is not necessary to use specialist technical climbing crampons as standard 12 point all round crampons such as those from Grivel will do the job very well.
Can I buy equipment in Kathmandu?
Kathmandu has hundreds of gear stores selling stuff at very cheap prices. A majority of them sell imitation clothes and equipment but 360 Expeditions guides will be on hand to show you the shops selling the good quality stuff.
What will happen to my mountain hardware during the climb?
All the mountain hardware (plastics, crampons, ice axes, ropes and snow stakes etc.) are brought directly to the camp by porters and placed in separate bags when we reach Lukla. We will not see this equipment again until we reach the base camp.
What clothing and footwear is appropriate when staying in the Tea houses and lodges?
There is infrequent electricity above Lukla and lodges are heated by a pot-bellied stove fuelled with either wood or yak dung. These provide adequate warmth for the dining rooms but are not connected to the bedrooms. A thick fleece or light down jacket provides adequate warmth for inside the buildings.
For footwear we suggest using either trainers (sneakers) or crocs. It is nice to get out of your trekking boots and to have something light to wear for the evenings.
How much will my pack weigh during the trek?
A daysack is worn by the climber at all times during the trek. The content of this is mandatory and should include: a fleece (for when taking breaks or the weather changes); a full set (top and bottom) of waterproofs; sufficient water for the day; snacks; camera equipment; personal medication and a head torch.
Your day-to-day rucksack will weigh no more then 4 – 5 kilos and a rucksack of around 40 – 60 L capacity will more than suffice. This rucksack can be filled to the brim with extra stuff when checking in at the airport. Our guides for example put their down jackets or a thick fleece and a pair of mountain socks in this bag so as to free up space in their hold luggage.
It is important that your day sack has an adjustable waist belt to transfer the weight of your daily load onto your hips and from here onto your legs (strongest muscles) to do most of the carrying. Another handy feature would be a compartment in which to fit a camelbak.
Our main luggage will be carried from camp to camp by porters. Our initial check in luggage flying from the UK should be around 22kg.
What do the porters carry? What is the correct porter weight?
Your porter bags should be off a soft material duffel bag or rucksack variety and should not be a suitcase or hard-bodied metal case. Furthermore they should weigh around 15 kg when packed for the trekking phase of the expedition. We have found this weight to be ample and usually everybody can plan to take only enough clothes and equipment needed for the mountain. Please bear in mind that on top of your load, porters will also have to carry a share of the food, kitchen equipment, camping equipment and their own survival gear.
Inside the porter bag should be a change of clothing, your clothing for higher up the mountain, a sleeping mat (thermarest), sleeping-bag, personal toiletries etc. (see equipment list). Also take a pair of light footwear to wear at camp at night and consider bringing a book or playing cards.
Are down jackets necessary?
They are highly recommended and are worth their weight in gold on summit day. Our guides wear them every evening above Namche Bazaar.
A layer system comprising of several layer of base layers, fleeces, jumpers and a thick coat will just about suffice on the climb but nothing beats the efficiency of a good down jacket (especially when topped with a water proof layer).
How warm does my sleeping bag need to be?
Sleeping bags should be rated within the -20 C comfort zone. From the first camp upwards it is not unusual to experience frosty nights and a good nights’ sleep is important to giving you the best chance to climb this mountain. Ensure you get a sleeping bag that has this temperature rating at this comfort zone rather then as its extreme zone.
Our guides take sleeping bags rated to well below -20C to ensure that they are warm at night. A 4 season sleeping bag can be enhanced by using an inner silk or fleece liner. The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as possible for the night and to ensure plenty of sleep for the arduous days ahead. Some clients have found the use of a “bivouac bag” to increase the warmth of their bag.
It is important to remember that down sleeping bags work by your own body heating the down that’s inside the bag. Once you have warmed up the bag the down will retain the heat and ensure that you sleep at a temperature that’s your own body temperature. For best results it is best to wear as little as possible when inside your sleeping bag. Our guides will often only wear a set of thermals in their bag. It is important for the bag to trap the heat. By wearing multiple layers of clothing your clothing will trap this heat and your bag will not function properly.
What clothing is suitable for when we come back from the mountain?
Kathmandu is at a relatively low altitude and daytime temperatures are warm. When in Rome do as the Romans. Shorts and T-shirts are fine to wear during the course of the day. Evening wear generally tends to be casual with long trousers and casual shirt appropriate for all hotels and restaurants. Nepalese are generally quite conservative in their dress code and are generally well dressed despite their situation in life. Your town and party clothes can be left in a safe lock up at the hotel and do not need to be taken up the mountain.
What other gear will I need?
Please review the equipment list. While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by the guides to ensure climbers be prepared to summit in any conditions.
Is it possible to rent equipment before I go?
It is possible from our local ground crew but we advocate the use of personal equipment when it comes to boots and high altitude clothing.
It is also possible to hire clothing and equipment before you leave from our partners Outdoor Hire (www.outdoorhire.co.uk) where 360 Expeditions has a 6,000m peak kit list set up and you can pick and choose hire items from this.
How much kit can I bring with me?
Please bear in mind that the Kathmandu-Lukla flight has a 15kg baggage allowance, excluding all hardgear.
All your mountain hardwear will be transported in blue barrels separately ahead of you by the porter team.
What is the skill level of this climb?
Island Peak is technically a little more difficult than Mera Peak. It is recommended that climbers feel comfortable climbing grade 2 to 3 snow or ice routes. Even though little terrain of this nature is encountered on this mountain it will help the climber to be within their comfort zone when climbing the more exposed sections. There is no need for climbers to be seasoned mountaineers but it is recommended that climbers have a basic grounding in the use of crampons and ice axes before they join this expedition. Although billed as a trekking peak the nature of this expedition is more akin to a mountaineering expedition than a trekking holiday.
How fit do I need to be for this expedition?
Climbers are expected to be in good physical condition. The better your physical shape the more you will be able to handle the demands of trekking to the base camp and then climbing the peak. Having a good level of fitness will allow you to enjoy the expedition far better and increase your chances of reaching the summit. Summit day can be up to 12 hours long.
What is the guiding team composed of? How many guides? Climber to guide ratio?
Our 360 guides are some of the most experienced in the business. They spend many months a year climbing and trekking in Nepal and have established a close rapport with our ground crew. Most trips have a 3:1 ratio. Our 6 person teams depart with one 360 expedition guide. This ratio includes local crew (climbing Sherpas). Generally, your 360 leader will be in charge of the expedition and he/she will be assisted by the local guides. For the actual mountain phase (as opposed to the trekking phase) we adhere to the 3:1 ratio to allow us to look after you properly.
How out of my comfort zone will I be?
On a day to day level remember that you will be camping at altitude once we hit the glacier. You are likely to be cold, washing and toilet facilities will be limited, your appetite may be affected by the altitude and as you get higher on the trek you are likely to suffer shortness of breath and many people experience difficulty sleeping. Remember that everyone on the trek is likely to be experiencing exactly the same symptoms, physical and mental. We anticipate that you will have had some experience of this sort of thing before.
What is the best time of year to climb in Nepal?
The best time to climb the Nepali 6,000m peaks is March to May and September to November. The later time frame is generally clear but colder with snow conditions more stable. The usual weather patterns which came with great predictability are changing however and it is not unusual to experience short spells of warm weather which is unprecedented.
How cold can it get?
The temperature at the top of the mountain can vary widely. Sometimes it is only a degree or two below freezing, but climbers should be prepared for possible temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, especially in conjunction with wind chill. On the trek expect cold mornings (sometimes frosty). An afternoon rainstorm is not unusual at the lower altitudes.
Where do I meet my Leader?
Your guide will generally meet you at the airport. At the check-in desk look for someone wearing a 360 logo.
Do I need to book my own flights to Nepal?
360 Expeditions will be booking flights on your behalf. We provide confirmation of flight times and departure terminal approximately eight weeks before your departure date. Please be aware that flight schedules are subject to change. Please ensure that you have checked your flight details before setting out for your flight.
Do I need special travel insurance for the trek?
You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.
Entry into Country
My passport runs out 3 months after the trek, is this OK?
Your passport should be valid for 6 months after the date the trek starts. If it runs out before you may be refused entry. It is also advisable to have a couple of photocopies of your passport in case of loss.
Do I need a visa for Nepal?
Visas are compulsory for entry into Nepal for all foreign nationals. Although these can be acquired relatively easily at the border (Kathmandu international airport and all land borders) for a fee of $40 USD, we recommend that you contact your nearest Nepali embassy to avoid queuing, unnecessary delays and potential clearance.
Embassy of Nepal in the UK
12A Kensington Palace Gardens
London, W8 4QU
Tel: 0207 229 1594 /0207 229 6231 / 0207 229 5352
Any tips on how a climber can maximise their chances of success?
The 360 training programs have been devised to be expedition specific. Use these as a guide but also feel free to contact us for individual advice on how to best incorporate the most suitable fitness program with your own lifestyle. The idea is to increase the intensity of the exercise over 4 to 6 months before you leave for the expedition. Concentrate on cardiovascular work-outs during the initial weeks by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on long duration walks (longer than 6 hrs) carrying a rucksack of around 10kg. As you get stronger increase this rate of exercise and the duration by walking every weekend and running 5km every second day.
A focused regime will not only prepare your body for carrying minor loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself. In addition the weekend walks will help break in your boots and get you used to your equipment.
In combination this will pay dividends when you reach Island Peak because even though you can’t train for altitude your body will be ready for arduous days and you will be familiar with how to best use your equipment.
When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you accept?
Generally speaking deposits are due upon booking to secure your place as we need to book the international flights well in advance. The full amount should be paid 4 months prior to departure. However having said this our aim is to get you to the top of this mountain and we understand that everyone’s personal financial situations can vary.
Please contact our friendly office crew to discuss a suitable payment plan should you find raising the funds to be difficult. We have been in your shoes and go by the motto of where there’s a will there’s a way.
What is your cancellation and refund policy?
Please read our terms and conditions careful before you depart. 360 Expeditions highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits we must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
How much do we tip our local crew?
Our local crew work extremely hard to ensure that your expedition runs well. Although tipping is not compulsory once someone sees how hard the crew works and realises the minimal amount of money they get paid relative to us, tipping will seem the least they can do to say thank you. As a general rule we suggest around $160 per client for the entire local crew to be shared amongst them. For the leader this is your call.
Money: am I correct in thinking we only need to take US Dollars with us?
US dollars are readily recognised and are easily converted to the local currency. Upon arrival there will always be a bureau de change at the airport. These provide a better rate of exchange than your hotel. Buying gifts or small goods such as drinks or snacks with small denomination US dollars is not a problem. Getting change for a $20 bill when buying a $1 coke will be a problem. Larger bills are good for tipping your porters at the end of the expedition and a sufficient amount should be carried with you. Your 360 leader will remind you in the pre-expedition brief of the correct amount to take on the trip with you.
What additional spending money will we need?
The amount of money you will need depends on how many presents you wish to buy or how much you have to drink when you come off the hill. As a basic rule of thumb $250 should be more than adequate for any post expedition spending.
Nepal is a relatively cheap place and when indulging in the local custom of haggling goods can be bought for very good value for money. Your 360 leader will be happy to point out the relative bargains and the suitable prices and where to get the best value for money. The only cash you’ll need to consider taking with you on the mountain is the local crew tips which are presented to them before we leave Lukla (see above) and for any additional snacks and soft drinks you wish to purchase from the Teahouses encountered en route. Additional supplies can be quite expensive though as all this is brought in by porters.
Do we need a travel adaptor for the plug sockets in the hotel or are they the same as UK?
The voltage is 220v / 50Hz like the UK. Rectangular or round threepin plugs are used. It is possible to recharge your electronic items and batteries for a small cost at some of the lodges.
Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?
You can always call our offices and one of our guides will contact you to discuss any aspects of the expedition. Generally about 1 month before your trip departure we mail a list of other team members to you.
Will I have time for shopping in Kathmandu?
You have a day in Kathmandu at the end of the trek which will give you plenty of time to pick up souvenirs.