April was a crazy month for me. I was in Nepal trekking with our team via the standard routes to Goyko and Everest Base Camp (where we spent an amazing night with an expedition team), when we got the crazy idea to climb Island Peak.
Now I am very much a trekker, I have little mountaineering experience, and although I am well versed in the ins and outs of the sport from an ‘academic’ perspective, I am very much a armchair enthusiast.
I knew a lot about Island Peak so was quietly confident that I could do it. I wasn’t concerned about the altitude – which at 6,200m is high – but not nuts! And by this point we were already well acclimatised having been trekking for two weeks about 4,600m with three big 5,500m passes under our belts!
We spent a few days with our really experienced team doing some basic technical training – self arrest, jumar ascending, rappelling etc – and then set of for Island Peak high camp, a really inhospitable place!
Things were going well until we got to the crampon point, which I must say freaked me out a little. Since last years Earthquake there has been a lot of movement on the glacier that leads up to Island Peak’s ice wall. The movement has resulted in two crevasses opening up, which now require a ladder crossing. A character building experience to say the least!
Once you get across the ladders things are pretty straightforward up to the headwall, where again things get a little hairy. The 150m ice wall is heavily jagged and not the easiest thing to ascend. From the summit ridge there is a traverse to the tiny summit with 1000 foot drops on either side. It’s scary but with the help of are incredible climbing team we were able to make it.
The experience on Island Peak was by far the most challenging I have ever had in the Nepal, but all and all I loved it and am now looking at my next peak, climbing Aconcagua!!