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Mera Peak Vs. Island Peak

Mera Peak vs. Island Peak: which one should you climb? In this article, we will provide facts about Mera and Island Peak, which one is easier to climb, the route of Mera Peak and Island Peak climbing, and other information. So, make sure you read until the end!

Mera Peak Vs. Island Peak: Which One is Better?

Introduction to Mera Peak and Island Peak

Both are among the most popular trekking peaks in Nepal. Let us begin by introducing both peaks.

Mera Peak

Mera Peak is in the Mahalangur Himalayan range of the Everest region. It is 6476 meters high and consists of three main summits: Mera North (6476 m), Mera Central (6461 m), and Mera South (6065 m). Col. Jimmy Roberts and Sen. Tenzing were the first to climb the peak in 1953.

Mera Peak Vs. Island Peak

Mera Peak is higher in altitude and famous among trekkers for being the highest trekking peak in Nepal. It does not require technical skills and is ideal for beginners. Mera Peak offers 360-degree views of Mount Everest (8848 m), Kanchenjunga (8586 m), Lhotse (8516 m), Makalu (8485 m), and Cho Oyu (8201 m), five of the world’s highest mountains

You will need three permits for Mera Peak. These include: 

  • TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System)
  • Mera Peak climbing permit
  • Makalu Barun National Park Permit

Island Peak

The Island Peak, also known as Imja Peak, is another famous trekking peak in the Everest region. It sits at a height of 6160 meters amidst a white sea of snow, hence its name. Hans Rudolf Von Guten was the first mountaineer to climb the peak’s summit 1956.

island peak climbing cost

Island Peak is an extension of Mount Lhotse Shar’s south-end ridge. It is ideal for beginners and expert climbers alike. Similarly, Island Peak does not require much technical skill for climbing. From the Island Peak summit, you can witness the gorgeous vistas of Mt. Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu, and Ama Dablam

Island Peak requires four permits for climbing. These include: 

  • TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System)
  • Khumbu Rural Municipality Entrance Permit
  • Sagarmatha National Park Entry Permit
  • Island Peak Climbing Permit

Location and Geography

Island Peak and Mera Peak lie in Nepal’s Everest or Khumbu regions. The exact location and geography of these two peaks are below: 

Mera Peak

The Mera Peak, which is 6476 meters high, lies north of the Hinku Valley. It is part of the Mahalangur range and is close to the Tibetan border. The exact geographical coordinates are 27° 42′ 33″ N latitude and 86° 52′ 6″ E longitude.

Mere Peak Vs Island Peak

Many trekkers climb Mera Peak as a practice for Everest climb. The Mera Peak route lies in remote areas with silent trails. You must trek through the Hinku Valley to reach Mera Peak Base Camp (5800 m). Meanwhile, the Mera High Camp is at 5800 meters. The secluded trails go through Sherpa settlements, diverse Himalayan landscapes, and Mera Glacier

The Mera Peak itinerary usually takes 15 to 20 days. Lukla commonly serves as the gateway for the journey. Lukla to Mera Base Camp is around 65 km (40 miles), and from the base camp to the summit is around 10 km (6.2 miles). 

Island Peak

The Island peak, Imja Tse, lies within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sagarmatha National Park in Solukhumbu. At 6165 meters elevation, its parent range is Khumbu Himal. The peak is close to the intersection of Imja and Lhotse Glaciers.

Island Peak Climbing Cost

The geographical coordinates for Imja Tse are 27° 55′ 14.84″ N latitude and 86° 56′ 6.58″ E longitude. It is an isolated peak whose trail passes through challenging terrain, glaciers, valleys, and Sherpa settlements. Its starting point is also Lukla. The Island Peak Base Camp sits at an elevation of 5090 meters. 

Island Peak climbing takes 14 to 18 days. Depending on the route, the distance from Lukla to Island Peak Base Camp is 40 to 47 km (25 to 29 miles). The challenging terrain and steep slopes make the climb to the summit from base camp an arduous journey. The island peak offers an adventurous climbing experience.  

Historical Significance

Mera Peak

The British Expedition first explored the region where the peak lay in the early 1950s. Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Eric Shipton, and George Lowe were the expedition team members. In 1953, Col. Jimmy Roberts and Sen. Tenzing reached the summit of Mera Central

There is a dispute about who was the first to climb Mera North. Some sources state that climbers L. Limarques, Ang Lhakpa, and two unknown Sherpa were the first to climb the summit in 1973. Others state that three French climbers were the first in 1975. Mal Duff and Ian Tattersall were the first to reach the Mera South summit in 1986. 

Mera Peak has historical significance in the Everest region. Many mountaineers use it as an acclimatization climbing expedition before Everest. The Hinku valley, where the peak lies, is also a treasure for Sherpa and Tibetan Buddhist culture and tradition. Similarly, the 1953 successful expedition of Col. Jimmy Roberts and Sen. Tenzing played a significant role in the history of Himalayan exploration. 

Island Peak

Island Peak’s history dates back to early Himalayan exploration. The expedition team led by Eric Shipton in 1951 gave the peak its name. In 1983, the locals renamed the peak “Imja Tse.” In the Sherpa language, Imja Tse translates to “Island Peak,” but it is popularly known as Island Peak.

In 1953, the British expedition team of Tenzing Norgay, Charles Evans, Charles Wylie, Alfred Gregory, and seven other Sherpas climbed the southwest summit of Island Peak as a training exercise. Swiss climber Hans-Rudolf Von Guten and two Sherpas climbed the main summit in 1956. 

The peak is culturally significant for the Sherpa community. It is also an important stepping stone for mountaineers and expedition teams. Island Peak expedition serves as an acclimatization peak for climbers. Many take a practice climb on Island Peak to prepare themselves for more challenging climbs like Mount Everest. 

Climbing Routes and Difficulty Between Mera Peak vs. Island Peak

Mera Peak

You can fly from Kathmandu or Manthali to Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport. From Lukla, you will begin your trek to Mera Peak. You will traverse lush subtropical forests of rhododendrons, picturesque Sherpa villages, rivers, valleys, and gorges. As you ascend, the subtropical landscape slowly changes into barren and alpine settings. 

During the Mera Peak trek, you will pass villages like Paiya, Panggom, Ramailo Danda, Chhatra Khola, Kothe, Thangnak, Khare, Kothe, and Thuli Kharka. You will also pass through ancient monasteries and stupas. Once you reach Khare, you will take an acclimatization day. From Khare, you will head towards Mera Base Camp and High Camp. 

The route to high camp is extremely challenging, especially for beginners. Crossing small crevasses, rocky hills, and icy glaciers requires basic climbing skills. Once at the summit, gorgeous vistas and scenery greet you. After the climb, you will retrace your step back to Khare. Then, you will head to Kothe, Thuli Kharka, and Lukla. 

Due to its high altitude, ascending to the summit of Mera Peak is more strenuous than ascending Island Peak. The peak is slightly higher than the other. The Mera Peak is slightly less demanding but not a straightforward climb. The Alpine Grading System falls under the Alpine Grade PD Peak, which means the peak climb has some challenging sections that are not technically demanding. Mera Peak is easier to climb than Imja Tse.    

Island Peak

Island Peak’s starting point is also Lukla. It follows the classic route of Everest Base Camp Trek. Like Mera Peak, it slowly ascends from subtropical, green forests to highland meadows. You will go through Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Dingboche, Chhukung, and Pangboche.

Upon reaching Chhukung, you will take an acclimatization day. Then, you will begin your ascent to the base camp. The rough and zigzag trail goes through glacial moraines from Lhotse Glacier to reach the base camp. From the base camp, you will begin your climb to the summit. Reaching the summit before noon is crucial, as the strong wind makes the climb extremely risky and strenuous.  

Imja Tse mountain climbing requires some technical skills. You must know how to use an ice axe, crampons, and jumar, move between fixed anchor points using a safety line, and cross crevasses using a ladder. You must also walk on the glacier and ridge to get to the summit of Imja Tse. After the climb, you will descend to Pangboche and retrace your path back to Namche Bazaar and Lukla. 

Island Peak is more physically demanding and technical than Mera Peak. Although the summit is relatively lower than Mera, its challenging terrain makes climbing more difficult. It has a 2B Difficulty Level in the Alpine Grading System, which means that the climb has technical sections and requires knowledge of mountaineering tools. Therefore, Island Peak is more technical. It is famous among climbers as an acclimatization peak.   

Preparation and Training

Physical and Mental Preparation

Preparing physically and mentally for Mera Peak and Island Peak is essential. The experience and preparation for climbing both peaks are similar. With proper preparation, they are also suitable for beginners and experts. 

Climbers must have an excellent level of physical fitness, as well as good stamina and endurance. Both trekking peaks are at an altitude of over 6000 meters, and the trails are physically strenuous. Thus, exercise and training help climbers to prepare physically for the trek. For Imja Peak, you will need basic climbing training and physical endurance

Cardiovascular exercises such as running, hiking, cycling, and swimming can improve fitness and stamina. Likewise, strength training can prepare your body to handle rugged terrain and climb. You can also simulate altitude training to acclimatize your body to high altitudes.

Aside from physical and technical aspects, mental preparation is also crucial for Mera and Imja Peak climbing. Researching and familiarizing yourself with the climb and its challenges is always best. It helps to build mental resilience and understand the risk. It also helps you to prepare for any unpredictable changes during the trek and climb, 

Equipment and Gear Essentials

You will need proper equipment and gear for Island Peak and Mera Peak. Along with trek equipment, you will also need gear for peak expeditions. The list of equipment and gear essentials are as follows:

  • Clothing items (insulating layers, moisture-wicking layers, down jackets, waterproof/waterproof jackets, gloves, innerwear, hats, warm socks, scarves, and scarves ).
  • Mountaineering boots and gaiters
  • Trekking poles
  • Rope and climbing harness
  • Steel crampons
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet
  • Regular and locking Carabiners
  • Ski goggles
  • Arm length leash
  • Large mitten-sized ascender
  • Climber accessory cord 
  • Aabseil Belay device

Altitude Acclimatization and Technical Skills

Mera and Imja Tse Peak require an acclimatization day. Any trek above 2500 meters carries the risk of altitude sickness. As you ascend, the oxygen level decreases, and the air pressure reduces, resulting in trekkers and climbers falling prey to altitude sickness. 

Acclimatization helps reduce risk. Trekkers and climbers need to ascend to higher altitudes gradually and acclimatize. It allows the body to adjust to the growing altitude and changes. 

Chhukung is a common acclimatization stop before you climb to Island Peak, while Khare is a popular stop for Mera Peak.  

You need technical climbing skills to climb Island Peak. Therefore, you can take mountaineering training to use equipment such as ice axes, crampons, rope techniques, etc. Rocking climbing skills will also help significantly. 

Seasonal Considerations

Best Seasons for Climbing

The best times to climb both peaks are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). The weather is stable, with moderate temperatures during these seasons. Similarly, the visibility is excellent at these times of the year. 

Both seasons are peak time for trekking, so the trails are busier. In spring, you get to witness the rhododendron forests in full bloom. In autumn, the luscious greenery adds vibrancy to the entire landscape of the Everest region. The precipitation level is low in both seasons, so there is no need to worry about rainfall except for occasional rain showers. 

Weather Patterns and Conditions at Different Times of the Years

Despite the season, the weather at higher elevations is always unpredictable. The difference between Mera and Island Peak’s weather patterns and conditions is slim. Both peaks are adjacent to the Mahalangur range. Hence, the patterns are identical. 

The climatic zones you will come across in Mera and Island are as follows: 

ClimateAltitude (in meters)
Temperate Climate1200m – 2100m
Frigid Climate2100m – 3100m
Alpine Climate3300m – 5000m
Tundra Climate5000m and above

Impact of Climate Change on Climbing Conditions

Global warming and climate change have significantly impacted climbing conditions. The rising temperature has resulted in glaciers and ice formations melting, making glacial travel more challenging due to icefall hazards and increased crevasses. Similarly, the rise in temperature has also increased the risk of avalanches, and the weather has become more unpredictable.  

Safety Measures and Risks

Common Risks and Hazards Associated with Climbing These Peaks

The treacherous terrains are just one hazard you will encounter while climbing the peaks. Another common risk that climbers fall prey to is altitude sickness. While some may experience common symptoms, some can experience severe symptoms that can be life-threatening. 

Climbers can also encounter unpredictable and extreme weather conditions during the climb. Sudden snowfall and blizzards can increase the risk of avalanches, hypothermia, and frostbite. Similarly, climbers can come across hidden crevasses and unstable ice formations. The glacial hazards also make the climb arduous. 

Importance of Hiring Experienced Guides and Support Staff

Hiring experienced guides and support staff is essential to physical and mental preparation. Experienced guides have extensive knowledge of terrains, routes, weather, and hazards. They play a crucial role in ensuring climbers’ safety and security. They help navigate the unfamiliar terrains and asses the risk to make informed decisions. Therefore, climbers must always listen and follow their guides’ instructions. It may be a little expensive to hire experienced guides and support staff, but it ensures your safety and gives you peace of mind. The guides and staff provide indispensable support for a successful climb. 

Emergency Procedures and Evacuation Options

Travel insurance is mandatory for both peaks. Climbing peaks comes with challenges. It should cover high altitude and medical and emergency expenses. In high-altitude climbs like Mera Peak and Island Peak, helicopter rescue and evacuation are the only options. Hence, the insurance should also cover these. 

Your guide will assess your conditions and decide accordingly during an emergency. They will motivate you to continue your journey if it is minor. However, they will immediately call for a helicopter rescue operation if the situation is dire. 

Environmental Conservation

In recent years, there has been a massive surge of trekkers and climbers in Nepal. It has helped the country’s tourism and created environmental conservation challenges. Climate change has also added challenges. The locals and government are jointly making efforts to preserve the environment. 

Trekking agencies also play a huge role in conservation efforts. They play a front role in sustainable tourism. They encourage eco-friendly practices such as waste management, using eco-friendly gear, supporting local conservation efforts, using renewable energy, etc. Most agencies and their guides encourage clients to follow the “leave no trace other than your footprint” principles.  

Cultural Immersion

You will travel to Mera Peak and Island Peak in the remote Himalayan areas. You will get to witness the unique Sherpa and Tibetan culture. Tibetan Buddhism also has a massive influence in higher regions. So, you will get to experience their culture and warm hospitality. You will also get an opportunity to mingle with the locals and get deeper insights into their local customs and lifestyle. 

Tourism supports the region’s local economy. Most guides and porters are locals, so hiring them supports the local economy. Travelers should be respectful of the local culture and traditions. Practicing sustainable tourism and playing your part in preserving the region’s cultural heritage and environment is also essential.  


When it comes to Mera Peak vs. Island Peak, there is no clear winner, as each peak has its appeal. It ultimately depends on your preference. It is suitable for all climbers, and you do not require any prior experience. If you want to do peak climbing in Nepal, either is a good choice. The peaks are two popular destinations for mountaineers and expeditioners for practice.  

Mera Peak sits higher than Island Peak but requires no technical skills. Both peaks are perfect for adventurer seekers and for those looking to practice before climbing Mount Everest. So, choosing between Mera Peak or Island Peak depends on your preferences. Climbing either peak can be a daunting experience, but they will offer you an adventurous and thrilling climbing experience with awe-inspiring scenery. 

Hillary Treks

My name is Hillary. Since completing the Government Guide Training from Nepal's Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation (KEEP and HRA), I have been a specialist in mountain trekking and peak climbing. With specific expertise in the Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan regions, I have now been a trekking guide and tour operator in Nepal, and across the Himalayas, since 2012.

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