CLIMBING PEAKS IN NEPAL
Nepal is revered as one of the best destinations on the planet
for trekking and mountaineering. But think of Nepal and you’re most likely
thinking of the daunting Himalaya Mountains, home to the pinnacle of all
climbing challenges: Mount Everest. With this in mind, you might wonder, surely
Nepal is no place for a novice climber. Right?
Well, actually, it is. Just as the world’s greatest ski
resorts have nursery slopes as well as black runs, Nepal has gentler – but no
less spectacular – climbs suited to physically fit but inexperienced climbers.
Keep in mind, though, that although a Nepal climb
might be labelled as ‘easy’ that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be
challenging. You may not need technical mountaineering skills but at the very
least you’ll need to take time to acclimatise to the altitude if sickness and
exhaustion are to be avoided.
Trust us on this, once you arrive in Nepal the last thing
you’ll want to be is unwell before you try some of the most exhilarating
trekking and climbing adventures you could wish for.
Requiring nothing more technical than a few easily learnt
ice climbing skills and the basic use of fixed ropes/ladders and crampons, the
ascent of Island Peak provides the perfect introduction to high altitude
climbing in Nepal. The trickiest part is scaling the 45° slope of Island Peak’s 150 metre headwall that joins Island
Peak’s narrow summit ridge. Situated in the stunning Sagarmatha National
Park, this 6,189 metre high mountain received its name in 1951 from the British
mountaineer Eric Shipton, who thought it resembled an island in a sea
of ice when viewed from the hill station village of Dingboche.
Today, Island Peak is regarded as among the most
straightforward (if a little strenuous) of Nepal’s sub-7000 metre climbing
peaks to attain and is one of the most popular destinations for moderately
experienced trekkers and climbers. It’s also one of the most rewarding, since
the route takes in a variety of landscapes and natural features including
verdant forests, low-lying hills, snowy peaks and, at the end of the climb to
Island Peak’s summit, breathtaking views of a Himalayan mountain
Beginner climbers will find lots to love about an ascent of
Pokalde Peak which is located approximately 12 kilometres southwest of Mount
Everest. Widely regarded as one of the shortest and easiest of Nepal’s climbing
peak treks, the ascent to Pokalde’s summit at 5,806 metres largely combines
walking and scrambling until you reach the last section. Here, fixed ropes are
required to tackle potentially loose rocks and an exciting almost vertical
scramble to the top, but for the averagely skilled climber the challenges posed
by Pokalde shouldn’t cause sleepless nights.
With the emphasis slightly more on trekking than climbing, on
the latter part of this adventure you’ll be heading up the Mera Glacier. Keen
climbers with a little experience shouldn’t be deterred. Technically, the
skills required to summit Mera Peak are less than those needed for Island
Peak - basic rope and crampon use with maybe a little ice axe work thrown in
for good measure. Mera Peak is the highest of Nepal’s trekking peak at an
elevation of 6,476 metres and its route once again features a diversity of
naturally beautiful terrain. Expect to be picking your way through
rhododendron, pine and bamboo forests, traversing open grassland and following
ancient mountain trails before you reach the glacier. Climbing this icy beast
might be on the physically demanding side but it’s not technically difficult.
And, trust us, the exertion is worth it. From Mera Peak’s summit you’re
rewarded with jaw-dropping views of five of the world’s six highest mountains,
including the mighty Mount Everest.
A virtually non-technical climb that’s nonetheless
challenging, Yala Peak is perfect for the moderately fit first-time climber
with a thirst for adventure. Rising around 5,500 meters, this snow-dusted
mountain lies within in Nepal’s Langtang Valley region, not far from the border with
Tibet. Distinctly Himalayan in its grandeur, Yala Peak also feels pleasingly
remote and serene.
When you feel it’s time to step up to the plate and make the
transition from experienced trekker to novice mountaineer, there’s no better
place to start than with Tent Peak. It's the hardest climb from our top 5 list.
The third most popular climbing peak in Nepal after Island Peak and Mera Peak,
Tent Peak is part of the famous Annapurna range and is surrounded by a
selection of the world’s most impressive mountains. At just over 5,560 meters
in height, Tent Peak, or Tharpu Charli as it’s known locally, is no pushover
and will give suitably fit aspiring mountaineers a taste of ice climbing.
You’ll also experience the thrill of walking along some pretty narrow high-altitude