We ascend by the standard route and although the summit can be reached in one day from base camp, we make use of a high camp. The final ridge is a classic of it's kind and from the summit fabulous views can be enjoyed of many Himalayan giants including the immense south face of Lhotse and the huge peak of Ama Dablam.
Day 1: Fly to Lukla, trek to Phakding. Fly to Lukla. Start trek setting off for a gentle walk to Phakding (2800m), a further 3 hours to the north. The trail leads through Lukla, past hotels, shops and airline offices to the edge of the Lukla plateau where the trail drops to meet the intersection of the Jiri trail at Chablung. From here the trail follows the Dudh Kosi north through the village of Ghat and then finally to Phakding for the overnight stay.
Day 2: Phakding - Namche Bazaar. The trail heads beside the Dudh Kosi and continues upstream along the banks to the confluence of the Bhote Kosi and Dudh Kosi. After crossing the large suspension bridge, the trail starts ascending through pine tree forests to reach the distinctive horse-shoe shaped bowl village of Namche Bazar where you stop for your overnight. There are fantastic photographic opportunities on the way as the peaks of Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8511m), Nuptse (7879m), Arna Dablam (6856m) and Taweche (6542m) come into view for the first time.
Day 3: Rest day in Namche Bazaar. Rest day for acclimatization at Namche Bazaar. As the name suggest, Namche is famous for its local market or bazaar. Rising early, those who climb to the ridge above Namche will be rewarded with the stunning dawn and sunrise over the panorama of the Khumbu peaks. The day can be spent exploring this colorful village or walk along the Thami Valley in the afternoon or visit the National Park Headquarters to see the interesting displays of Sherpa lifestyle and culture, mountaineering in the park, flora and fauna.
Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Phortse Thanga. From Namche the trail leads north-east on a direct line to Everest, starting up the hill to the Visitor Centre and continuing on a reasonably flat easy trail high above the Dudh Kosi. Ahead one can see one of the most beautiful mountains in the Khumbu - Ama Dablam (6856m), as well as Everest still far off in the distance. At Sanasa we branch off the Everest trail and head up the hill to the small settlement of Mong. From here it is a steady descent to the Dudh Kosi at Phortse Thanga (3500m) for the overnight stay.
Day 5: Phortse Thanga to Dole. From the river the trail initially climbs steeply out of the valley through rhododendron forest and then continues high above the Dudh Kosi, steadily gaining height. The trail passes through the settlements of Tongba (3950m) and Gyele (3960m) and eventually reach our camp site for the evening at Dole (4200m) for the overnight stay. All through the day one can have fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.
Day 6: Dole to Machhermo. From Dole the trail continues high above the west bank of the Dudh Kosi and one can obtain tremendous views of the mountains at the northern end of the valley, including Cho Oyu, as well as back down the valley to Ama Dablam, and across the valley to Tawachee and Cholatse. Machhermo our overnight stay at 4410m is a pleasant camp site with several tea-houses.
Day 7: Machhermo to Gokyo. Beyond Machhermo the valley widens and the trail passes through the settlement of Pangka before descending to the river. From here it is a steep ascent up the terminal moraine of the Ngozumpa glacier to the first of the Gokyo lakes at 4650m. The trail then levels off and passes the second lake at 4690m, eventually making it's way to Gokyo at 4750m for the overnight stay.
Day 8: Climb Gokyo Ri, trek to Chhugyuma. The trail ascends to the top of Gokyo Ri at 5350m, for magnificent views of Everest to the east and Cho Oyu to the north. The trail then retraces to the area between the first and second lakes and takes a trail eastwards across the Ngozumpa glacier to reach Dragnag. From here the trail continues upwards for the overnight stay at Chhugyuma at approx. 5000m.
Day 9: Cross Cho La to Dzongla. The trail continues upwards towards the pass that links the Gokyo and Everest valleys - the Cho La. It is then about 3-4 hours of slow walking to the pass at 5420m offering fabulous views on both sides of the pass. From the pass the trail descends slowly on a rough trail to the small settlement of Dzongla for the overnight stay.
Day 10: Dzongla to Chhukung. From Dzongla the trail descends steadily to the main Everest trail at Duglha, and continues to descend to the ridge above Dingboche for the first view of Island Peak as it dominates the end of the Imja valley to the east. The trail then continues up the Imja valley to Chhukung at 4730m for the overnight stay.
Day 11: Chhukung to Island Peak Base Camp, then on to High Camp. From Chhukung the trail follows the moraine of the Lhotse glacier to the snout of the Imja glacier where it branches to the east and skirts around the base of Island Peak. The main camp is made at a spot known as Pareshaya Gyab at 5087m. After taking lunch and resting we continue up to our high camp, a further hour or so up the mountain. The trail is well defined until the area of our high camp at approx. 5500m.
Day 12: Ascent of Island Peak and return to Base Camp. Set off early for the summit at about 3.00 am, and scramble up in the dark to the snow-covered glacier above. From here the trail leads up the glacier until a broad snow basin which leads up to the final section of the climb. Ahead is the main summit ridge and we climb a steep snow and ice slope, using fixed ropes, for approx. 100m to access the ridge. The ridge is a classic and leads quickly to the east up to the main summit at 6189m. From the summit there are fantastic views across to Lhotse to the north, the Amphu Labsta and Mera Peak to the south, and Ama Dablam to the west. Return back to the Base Camp.
Day 13: Spare Day. A spare "buffer" day is allowed in case of bad weather.
Day 14: Island Peak Base Camp to Dingboche. The trail leads back down the Imja valley, firstly to Chhukung and on to Dingboche for the overnight stay.
Day 15: Dingboche to Namche Bazaar. From Dingboche the trail heads down the main Everest trail, passing through the settlement of Pangboche, before reaching the famous Tengboche monastery. Visit the monastery before continuing on to Namche Bazaar. From Tengboche the trail drops steeply to the river at Phunki Thanga, and then rises again to traverse high above the river on a winding trail into Namche Bazaar.
Day 16: Namche Bazaar to Lukla. The trail starts by descending steeply out of Namche and shortly before we cross the suspension bridge below Namche we get a last chance to see Everest before it is out of sight until the next time. Lunch at Phakding to arrive in Lukla by mid-afternoon.
Day 17: Lukla to Kathmandu. Fly back to Kathmandu and transfer to the hotel.
Notes: Climbing gears and equipments can be bought or rented in Kathmandu. Many mountaineering and trekking agencies also offer packages that take care of needs like gear, food, transportation, guide and porter services. They also arrange insurance. Visitors should choose an agency that has good track record.
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