FKT: Tyler Andrews - Imja Tse (Island Peak) - 2023-11-03

Route variation
Ascent -- Chukkung to Summit
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3h 6m 38s

Left very late as it was freezing in Chukkung this morning and I was pee-pawing around and procrastinating. I felt quite tired and not great this AM but finally got out and started my watch right at the start of the trail to Island Peak at 04:54am.


The plan was to meet Ang Sona at BC, so run there solo for about 7km and 500m+ and then pick him up and head up the steep and trickier part of the route. I was a bit anxious about this one as it was the last big effort over a very, very long and challenging week and also because some climbers had been injured just the day before by rock-fall, which rock-fall was caused by inexperienced climbers above them on the mountain. Either way, I figured the safest way to move through that kind of situation was quickly, i.e. minimizing time below other people, so with fingers crossed, I headed up.


The first 7km to B.C. is quite runnable and not very steep. It’s actually a bit rolling with some ups and downs and should be fairly quick (despite the altitude of 4700-5100m). Honestly, I felt extremely bad in this first stretch. I’m not sure if it was just the cold and dark or all the big efforts catching up to me, but I was feeling naustead and tired and just not really into it. I was glad I had Ang Sona at BC because I had no way to get in touch with him, so I really had no choice but to keep going.


By the time I arrived at BC, the sun was coming up, it was warming and brightening, and I was under pace a tick (55’23 to the start of BC). I took a 3’49 break to put on my helmet and harness and then we headed up together. We immediately took a wrong turn out of camp and climbed up a silly little trail on the hillside which then came right back down on the high-side of camp. I could see he was getting a bit behind on this flatter piece but also figured he would catch up once we got onto the more technical sections.


After maybe 7.5km, the trail cuts up steeply to the left and follows some sandy/rocky switchbacks and then up through a narrow gully with a lot of loose rock. This then cuts over to the right and follows a steep ridge all the way up to the edge of the glacier. I was moving very well at this point and glad not to see any people above us. We had no trouble with rockfall here. There was one point where I got up onto the ridge too early and almost got cliffed out but was able to downclimb to the right and then regain the ridge a few minutes later, where it was more continuous.


Finally, we hit the edge of the glacier at 5850m. Here, we put on crampons and stepped onto the snow. This was 1h23 from BC.


The snow section was surprisingly easy, though quite crowded. There was a gentle climb up onto the big flat plateau of snow, which I crossed solo with no problem, no crevasses, and then it was just the Headwall to the summit ridge. This is the part that gets talked about as tricky on the route, but it didn’t feel challenging at the time. It is somewhat steep 60-70 deg max, but the snow was good, lots of strong fixed ropes, and even the stretch in the middle that was rocky was not complicated with a jumar. Honestly, the only issue was traffic and getting around some beginner climbers at some of the anchor points. 

Finally, I made it onto the summit ridge and made the final 100 or so steps solo up to the tiny summit where I enjoyed having the whole place to myself. Ang Sona arrived maybe 5 minutes later and we took some photos and videos before heading down (it was very cold and windy up top).


Coming down the Headwall was very slow as there was a lot of traffic going up and we had to help this Santa Claus looking guy who was not doing great. Finally hit the plateau piece and jogged back to crampon point and then jogged all the way down to BC together.


Stopped briefly there just to take off the harness and helmet and then ran solo back to Chukkung. This stretch felt great to actually run, as it was mostly gentle enough downhill to feel like I was actually running. Really pushed as I knew this was the last big effort for a while, and felt great until like 1km to go when I caught a toe and landed hard on my right palm. Kept it a bit more under control from there on as I still had a long day ahead of me and didn’t want to hurt myself.


Arrived back in town and stopped my watch just where I’d started it: 5’29’23.


I had a blast up here and can’t wait to come back.


Total 21.82km, 5h29, 1592m+