For those interested in climbing snowbound peaks but who are not quite mountaineers, trekking peaks could be the thing for you. Trekking Peaks are peaks ranging from 5500 to about 6600 meters in height which have been approved for commercial climbing by the Nepal Mountaineering Association and the government of Nepal. These peaks are called trekking peaks, but most will require a degree of mountaineering commitment and equipment – though perhaps not as much as required by climbs higher than 6500 meters. Most approved trekking peaks are non technical climbs, but a few can be, and so you should choose these peaks according to your goals for climbing. If you just want to stand on something above 6000 meters in height, you have many easy(ish) choices. If you are looking for a climbing challenge but don’t have time/resources to commit to a 7-8000 meter peak, you also have many choices. Whatever your choice, these peaks will require that you be reasonably fit, and have adequate time to commit to a summit attempt. The rewards of trekking peaks are the sense of achievement one gets when to the summit, and of course, the views that most trekkers in Nepal will never get to boast of!
1. How many trekking peaks are there and how is climbing them different from trekking?
There are around 33 peaks that are listed by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) as trekking peaks. Trekking peaks require climbing permits that are issued by NMA and the starting fee for climbing permits is 350US$ for four members or less. Additional fees are required as climbing members increase. Aside from the special permits and fees, trekking peaks will require the use of a guide certified by NMA and the use of mountaineering equipment on ascent of peaks.
2. Do I need previous mountaineering/climbing skills?
Some technical peaks will require previous climbing skills if not at least recent training, but most popular peaks of this category will not require you to have mountaineering experience. The use of climbing gear like ropes, jumars, crampons and plastic waterproof boots are common on most climbing peaks, but for the most part, all you have to do is haul yourself up on fixed gear or on snow inclines of various degrees of steepness. The guides and porters will do most of the work for you.
3. When can I climb trekking peaks?
The peak climbing season coincides with the trekking season in Nepal. This usually means Spring and early Autumn or March-May and September-November.
4. Which regions can I climb in?
Major ranges in the Nepal Himalayas are Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Everest, Rolwaling, Langtang, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Saipal in the far west of Nepal. Most have a number of permitted climbing peaks – but the most popular ones are in the Everest region – but also by that token the most crowded.
5. Which is the easiest ones to climb, and which is the hardest?
Some trekking peaks listed are merely around 5500 meters in height so Chukkung ri, at 5550, is the lowest and probably the easiest one to climb as its not much more than a walk up a scree slope. Height alone is not an indicator though as Tharpu Chuli in the Annapurna region at about the same height is a serious climbing endeavor. In the Khumbu (Everest) region, Lobuche East at 6105 meter is commonly considered to be the hardest trekking peak. The highest trekking peak is Mera Peak at 6654 meters.
7. Will I need to have my own mountaineering gear?
If you do have your own mountaineering gear you can bring it along and use it. If you do not, the agency organizing your climb can arrange for the hire of gear. It is preferable though that climbing gear to fit such as specialized plastic boots, jackets, gloves etc be your own, or at least sized and tried well before actual use.
8. Can I climb on my own?
Permits are only issued through registered agencies and require the agency to furnish name and license number of accompanying guide. They will be held accountable for the safety and proper guidance of clients.
9. Who can organize my climb for me?
Any registered trek/tour/travel agency that is registered with the government of Nepal and the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
10. How is it different from mountaineering, and how long does it take to climb these peaks?
Trekking peaks are all below 7000 meters in height. Most do not require expedition style approaches in that they do not take about a month climb from base camp. Typically, most trekking peaks can be summited in about a week from base camp. Remaining time taken will be the time taken to trek in and the time taken to trek out.