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IMJA TSE

The peak provides some of the most striking scenery in the Khumbu, which provides an enjoyable climb. If the peak can be likened to an island in a glacial sea, then the mainland forms a semicircle of cliffs that rise in the north to the rugged summits of Nuptse (7,879m/25,850ft), Lhotse (8,501m/27,890ft), Lhotse Middle Peak (8,410m/27,590ft), as yet still unclaimed and Lhotse Shar (8,383m/27,503ft). To the east, rising above the frozen waves of the Lhotse Shar Glacier, is Cho Polu (6,734m/22,093ft), beyond which can be seen the red granite mass of Makalu (8,475m/27,805ft). To the south of the Imja Glacier the icy flutings of Baruntse (7,720m/25,328ft) and Amphu peaks lead the eye to the lofty pinnacle of Ama Dablam (6,856m/22,493ft),which is like a giant sea-stack guarding the entrance to the glacial bay in which Island Peak stands.


THE TREK
The Everest Base Camp trek should be followed from either Lukla or Kathmandu as far as Tsuro Og. Where the trail divides, take the right-hand branch leading to Dingboche and Chhyukhung.

THE CLIMBS
South – East Flank and South – West ridge
This was the route of the first ascent. After a little rock scrambling the route involves a small amount of glacier crossing followed by a short, steep snow climb to a ridge which leads to the summit.

The usual site for base camp is at Pareshaya Gyab(5,087m/15,518ft), between Imja Tse and the lateral moraine of the Imja Glacier. This is not a particularly attractive place and in the event of very heavy snowfall it has proved to be exposed to acalanche danger.

To reach base camp from Chhukhung (4,730m/15,518ft), the path at first climbs quite steeply to the south before following the moraine east along the main valley below the southern or true left bank of the Lhotse Glacier. The trail then follows glacial streams to the snout of the Imja Glacier. At this point the path swings north – east and crosses a dried up lake bed between the Lhotse and Imja Glaciers.

From base camp the route skirts south-east around the base of Imja Tse between the moraine and the mountain before turning north – east and climbing steep grassy slopes and small rocky steps. Occasional cairns are to be found marking the path. Easy scrambling up an open gully leads between two well-defined ridges and the site of high camp on the left- hand ridge below and to the right of a small hanging glacier (5,208m/17,323ft).

From the high camp on the left-hand ridge scramble across the broad open gully and gain the right – hand ridge. Follow this, which gives easy scrambling to the snow- covered glacier above. A way needs to be found out leftwards, avoiding seracs and crevasses before turning back northwards over snow covered scree in the margin between the glacier and the base of the main summit ridge.

After that a steep snow and ice ramp leads upwards for nearly 100 metres (300 feet), to the summit ridge. The ridge itself is a classic and undulates towards the main summit that is reached by a final tricky snow pitch.


NORTH RIDGE

First ascent was made by Alf Gregory, Dick Cook and two sherpas. North of the main summit the ridge continues to a col (5,700m/18,700ft). the route climbs the ridge from the col, which is reached by following the true right bank of the Imja Glacier and later the moraines on the right bank of the Lhotse Shar Glacier, before climbing north- west over snowy slopes to the col. On the first ascent, a camp was placed on the col.

Without doubt a complete traverse of both the routes describe would make a superb outing, especially so with parties traversing from each end so that there was no need to backtrack to collect camps.

WEST FACE

The west face of the mountain also offers good routes although none have been recorded. Dr. Peter Hackett, when he was resident doctor at Pheriche hospital, did climb on the west side of the mountain but no details of his exploration are available.

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