Island Peak Summit 6195 meters

8 years ago it was my first time to climb Island peak. I have to say it was more difficult than climbing Everest- it was because I had little Himalaya inside me all the while I was climbing Island peak which that time I was not aware of. The news of a life inside me was amazingly different but wonderful.

Now, climbing island peak for the 2nd time was a less difficult in a degree but nevertheless still challenging. From Phokalde base camp, we trekked to Chukkung and stayed at a small tea house that evening. The next morning, we trekked another two and a half hours and set our camp at the base of Island peak. The base camp was squeezed in between the steep ravine of the mountain and the active merged glaciers of Lhotse Shar and Imja where ice fall, avalance and rock fall were normal daily phenomenon.

The final peak felt like the final rite in an initiation. We all prepared the night before all our gears, food and water for our 2am start the next morning. Looking at the mountain conditions, again, our sirdar made us hike up the rocky phase with our trekking boots and change on our plastic boots and crampons on the ‘crampon point’. This was a steep and vertical start gaining 700 meters in 4 hrs from base camp.

Cool morning air woke us up and filled our lungs with robust energy as we trekked in a single file illuminated with our head torches. We passed several other climbers along the way, some of them taking their time with a rest stop while some turned back down and called it over. Our team stayed focused and pushed on.

The sun slowly rose and its morning light illuminated the far horizon of numerous peaks around us. We reached the crampon point. It was a moment for us to rest and take it all in. I was awed and bewildered by the enormous ice wall that led to the summit. There were even climbing ladders set up in between the cracks and crevasses similar to the Khumbu ice falls on Everest. The whole set up was very different 8 years ago. The glaciers are very active and move alot. This causes the approach and trails to the peak of island peak different every year, just like the khumbu ice fall.

Fixed rope after fixed rope and ice wall of 70 to 80 deg that goes at about WI 3 or 4 was an exhilirating climbing for the next 3 hours. There was no way to go but slowly up. There was a qeue of climbers up in the rope and each step makes some chunks of ice and snow loose and fall from above below. It was a concern for everyone, considering the steepness and conditions of where everybody was hanging.

After infinate steps, change overs to fix lines and out of breathe pauses, the summit came into view. It was a small mound of snow and everybody has to make room at the small precarious summit block . We took the opportunity to learn the different peaks surrounding us while we waited for our teammate Sami to make the summit. We saw Makalu, Lhotse, Nuptse, Cho oyu, Ama Dablam, Mera peak, peak 14 and hundreds of other peaks both climbed, unclimbed and with and without names. It was breathtaking! S

Soon, we decided to start heading down as the cold air made us uncomfortable and the morning sun was weakening our protection on the wall. It was the same time that Sami reached the summit. Everybody was enthusiatic.

The descend was another challenge. Rappelling down and getting stuck on the line as other climbers ascend was not easy. It took as much energy to climb up as to go down given all the existing conditions.

It took us another 3 hours to make it to base camp. It was only then that we realized that it was a great climb and there was so much experience on this expedition that each of us gained.

And as we sipped our hot tea, we all had a proud look on our faces.

Salute to our strong team!

Janet Belarmino
Team Leader
Belarmino Ventures
Himalayan Expeditions 2014

We would also like to thank Regatta, GET UP (corporate social responsibility platform of Golden ABC), Habagat, Lagalag, and Sycure for supporting our Himalayan Expeditions 2014

For more information go to : http://www.belarminoventures.com/dispatch

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Check out our teammate Sami’s blog at: facebook.com/sami.limnell

REGATTA flag at the summit of Island Peak

Get Up flag at the summit of Island Peak

Peter and Jukka at the summit