How To Train For Island Peak PLUS The 16-Week Island Peak Training Plan

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Island Peak (also known as Imja Tse) is the second highest trekking mountain in the world. Found in the Everest region in Nepal, exactly on the border of Nepal and Tibet in the Sagarmartha National Park. Island Peak is an extension of Lhotse and the world famous Mount Everest. Island Peak is a wonderful mountain to learn the next basic level of some of the technical mountaineering skills you’d need for the bigger mountains. You will cross over a glacier and be roped-up as there are crevasses on this section of the route. You will also learn how to self arrest, use your crampons to move up and down steep slopes as well as trekking with your ice axe instead of trekking poles.


Although this is still classififed as a trekking mountain, in my books, it is definitely a step up in terms of technical skills compared to the skills needed for Stok Kangri or Anconcagua. But if you aren’t super confident with your mini technical skills, don’t worry. Make sure you choose a good tour provider who has set aside time to teach their clients technical skills once you are on the mountain.


Despite the fact that Island Peak is classified as a trekking peak, it is still a challenging, giant of a mountain that requires a dedicated training plan in order to properly prepare.

In this blog you’ll find out the 2 reasons that make training so important to your success and safety followed by a 16-Week Island Peak Training Plan.


The 2 Reasons Why You Need To Be Training For Island Peak:


1. Altitude

The summit altitude is 6,189m. Sitting at just over 6,000m it’s safe to say Island Peak is a big mountain, slightly bigger than Stok Kangri and smaller than Aconcagua, but still big and in the arena of extreme altitude. If the concept of being close to 6,000m high seems weird and something you just can’t imagine, then go for a 6km walk or run in a straight/straightish line. Doing that will put the magnitude of Island Peak into perspective and show you why training is so so so important.


2. The Infamous Steep Headwall

Once you reach the glacier, you will then be facing the foot of the headwall. This is one of the hardest parts of the climb - never mind the steep initial ascent over rough terrain up to 5,000m. The ascent of the headwall is very, very steep. The kind of steep where you slip every so slightly backwards if you stand still for too long. The kind of steep were you feel like you need to lean slightly forward so that you don’t tumble backwards.

Don’t let the steepness scare you, there are fixed lines up this section and with good, solid training, and a determined, fierce attitude, you will make it up to the summit ridge. Once you’re on the summit ridge it’s a short and easy ascent to touch 6,189m.

When you start your training plan, let the Headwall be a driving and motivating factor in each session and anytime you feel like giving up, remind yourself just how much you need to give to make it through this particular section to reach the incredible summit of Island Peak.


NOTE: Please read “The 5 Essential Training Principles Of Mountaineering & Trekking” before you start the next section of this blog. You’ll need to understand what the training principles actually are to understand your 16-Week Island Peak Training Plan.


A small disclaimer, 16 weeks to train and prepare is really the minimum amount of time I would suggest to any of my clients with reasonable/average fitness levels. If you struggle to walk 8km with a 10kg backpack with a heart rate of about 130bpm or run 8km with a heart rate between 140bpm and 150bpm then rather be on the safe side and assume you need longer than 16 weeks to prepare.


16-Week Island Peak Training Plan

In my book “A Step-By-Step Manual To Mountaineering & Trekking Around The World” I share the formula I developed to calculate the exact number of hours you should be training per week to reach your peak physical condition for any mountain or trekking route you choose, as well as an entire, detailed and scientific chapter dedicated to creating your own training program.


If you haven’t read my book and calculated your weekly training hours then please know that the below training plan is based on the average age, weight and overall fitness levels of a person. This program also excludes the specific Heart Rate Zones that I explain and apply to The Training Chapter in my book, simply because it is impossible (and medically unsafe) to assume and suggest the specific zones you should be training in without properly calculating them.


Dedicate yourself to your training, give of your absolute best at sea level so you can give of your best at altitude. Island Peak will demand nothing less than your absolute best.


Week 1 to 4

  • 2.5 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 30 minutes Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 1.5 hour Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 4 to 8

  • 3 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 1 hour Core Stability

  • 15 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 2 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 15 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 8 to 12

  • 3.5 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 1 hour Core Stability

  • 20 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 2 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 20 minutes Anaerobic Power

Week 12 to 15

  • 4.5 hours Aerobic Fitness

  • 1.5 hours Core Stability

  • 30 mins Ankle Mobility and Balance

  • 3 hours Leg and Glute Strength

  • 30 mins Anaerobic Power


Week 16 (Peak Week of Island Peak)

During Peak Week, your training amount will decrease giving your body the necessary time to rest and recover before you take your first step on Island Peak. You want to start your climb fully recovered and rested and not tired and exhausted from training, which is why including a Peak Week in your 16 Week Island Peak Training Plan is important.


3 hours Aerobic Fitness

1 hour Core Stability

30 minutes Ankle Mobility and Balance

1 hour Leg and Glute Strength – very light exercises followed by a 15 minute Self-Massage Release (SMR) using a Foam Roller. Click here to see my SMR program.

0 minutes Anaerobic Power

If you’re looking for more help and would prefer to work directly and personally with a High Altitude Coach then checkout my Mountaineering & Trekking Training Program.

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