The 6000m peaks of Nepal range in elevation from (6000m/6999m)-(19,685ft/22,962ft)
There are 297 (6000m) peaks in Nepal that are open for climbing, this includes both climbed and unclimbed peaks. Of those 297 peaks, 270 are owned by the Department of Tourism, and 27 are owned by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA). We can further include trekking peaks into this category that go down in elevation to (5500m/18,044ft).
The “Trekking Peaks” of Nepal gives novice and hobby climbers an opportunity to tackle a high Himalayan peak without having to organize a major expedition. You get a taste of high-altitude climbing while avoiding the lengthy-time/financial commitments of 7000m-8000m expeditions.
For example, Naya Kanga in the Langtang Valley can be completed in less than twenty days with plenty of time allocated for acclimatization. With the proper training ahead of time Pisang & Chulu East/West might even allow you to ‘bag’ two summits in under one month.
6000m peaks are your gateway and prerequisite into 7000m ascents. Many of the climbs are no less demanding and adventurous in nature than 7000-8000m summits. They are formidable challenges worthy of intense training and preparation, they are not to be taken lightly.
The Controversy of 6000m Peaks
The 6000m category of Himalayan peaks is broad, varied, and even a bit controversial. Does the controversy lie in the subject of when exactly a peak goes from being a trekking peak to a mountaineering peak?
“Trekking peaks” in Nepal can be a very misleading classification. Comparatively speaking with peaks in other ranges around the world, Nepal seems to have a broader genre of peaks that they are willing to consider trekking peaks. “Trekking peaks” by definition are not of a technical nature and do not require siege tactics or fixing camps. For example, both Mera Peak and Island Peak fall into an official category defined by the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) as “Trekking Peaks.” For newcomers to the Himalayan climbing scene, they may expect to encounter a moderate hike but in reality, both of these peaks involve climbing to various degrees of difficulty.
A trekking peak can be looked at as a trip that consists mainly of trekking with a couple of days of mountaineering which may or may not involve ascending a glacier or steep rock to a high camp. The climbing would then be followed by a summit day. A mountaineering expedition would involve technical climbing (pitching terrain or fixing ropes for more than 200m) establishing a base camp and using siege tactics (carrying a series of loads to higher camps.) A trek becomes mountaineering when you break out the technical equipment (cams, nuts, fixed rope, ice ax, crampons) cross a glacier roped to your partner, front point in your crampons, and ascend steep terrain clipped into a fixed rope or pitch out terrain using formal belay techniques. Clearly, some of these things are easier than others, but all of them are still fundamentally considered mountaineering.
How to Prepare For a 6000m Himalayan Climb
As stated before, not all 6000m peaks are created equal. Some are more technical in nature than others. Some require steep snow/ice climbing, glacier crossings, or even short sections of technical rock climbing. A general rule of progression in the Himalaya can be: 2 moderate 6000m peaks will get you ready for an easy 7000m peak.
Step 1: Identify the specific technical challenges that you will face during your climb. There is enough information available online today, you should not be surprised about what you will find when you arrive at your objective. Do your homework, it will increase your chances of success.
Step 2: Acclimatize ahead of time by climbing to the height of your objectives base camp at least 10x-15x. Realistically, for most climbers coming from the USA and Europe, we do not have the luxury of ascending higher than 5000m on a regular basis. Fortunately for most 6000m peaks base camp will be located between 4000m-5000m.
Step 3: Start with very general training at the beginning of your routine and progress to more sport-specific exercises as your training cycles moves into the later stages.
Step 4: For less technical 6000m peaks you should have an overall aerobic base training time of at least 120 hours in Zone 1 (55-75% of your maximum heart rate.) This training load/frequency should be dispersed over at least a 25-30 day period. These training times are going to greatly depend on your level of physical fitness at the start of training.
Step 5: Be trained and competent in several mountain skill sets including Climbing self-rescue, crevasse rescue training, general mountaineering skills (using, ice ax, crampons, crossing glacier), and wilderness medical training.
**Our policies for accepting clients on 6000m peaks are that the client has good physical fitness, a list of experience on British hill hikes, several base camp treks, and some knowledge of rock & ice climbing.**
Legality and Bureaucracy of 6000m peaks
- There is only one restriction for obtaining permits for 6000m peaks: The government of Nepal does not allow climbing permits to be issued to a climber who is below the age of 16. Beyond that restriction, any climber with appropriate fitness and skills can attempt a 6000m mountain in the Himalayas.
- For peaks below 6500m, you do not need a liaison officer.
- For peaks above 6501m, you need a liaison officer. The government has implemented a policy for safety and preservation reasons that any peak over 6501m cannot be climbed without a liaison officer. The liaison officer must go with the group and return with the group at the end of the expedition. They have to stay at the base camp and ensure that the team does not attempt any other route, leave trash, paint the rock, and that they respect the culture.
- In an effort to increase tourist activity in Nepal the government of Nepal decided that 6 peaks between 5500m-5800m are now 100% royalty-free. Click here to view the NMA royalty-free list. 16 mountains (climbed and unclimbed) still require a permit.
- The cost of your permit depends on the season that you climb in. Spring/fall are more expensive than winter/summer.
- The NMA is a semi-private, semi-government organization that currently owns and issues permits for 27 mountains. A portion of the money collected goes to the government of Nepal and the remaining funds go toward training and certifying Nepali Sherpa on the latest guiding and technical standards.
- The Department of Tourism owns and issues permits for 270 peaks.
Classifying 6000m Peaks
In the Nepali grading system, peaks are classified by their difficulty into three general categories: Easy, Moderate, and Challenging.
The peaks are then further broken down using the International French Adjectival System (IFAS). The French adjectival alpine system evaluates the overall difficulty of a route, taking into consideration the length, difficulty, exposure, and commitment level (how hard it may be to retreat) of the route. The overall grade combines altitude, length, the difficulty of approach and descent, the number of difficult pitches and how sustained they are, exposure, and the quality of rock, snow, and ice.
*For more details on a specific mountain, hover and click on the mountain to be taken to the supporting webpage.*
Examples of Easy 6000m Peaks
Chulu Far East Peak (6059m/19,878ft), Bokta Peak (6114m/20,060ft), Naya Kanga Peak (5844m/19,160ft), Tharpu Chuli Peak (Tent Peak) (5663m/18,579ft), Yala Peak (5732m/18,790ft), Mardi Himal Peak (5587m/18,330ft), Chhukung Ri Peak (5550m/18208ft)
Examples of Moderate 6000m Peaks
Lobuche East Peak (6119m/20,062ft), Imja Tse (Island Peak) Peak (6165m/20,226ft), Kwangde Ri Peak (6011m/19,721ft), Chulu East Peak (6584m/21,601ft), Paldor Peak (5896m/19,343ft), Dhampus Peak (6012m/19,724ft), Mera Peak (6476m/21,247ft)
Examples of Challenging 6000m Peaks
Pisang Peak(6091m/19,970ft, Singu Chuli Peak (6501m/21,328ft), Kusum Kangaru Peak (6367m/20,889ft, Kyazo Ri Peak (6184m/20,288ft, Chulu West Peak (6584m/21,601ft)