Makalu - Nepal


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Photo by Stef Yak Maginelle
Photo by Stef Yak Maginelle

Makalu stands at 8463 meter above sea level and sits astride the border of Nepal and China. Its is one of 14 peaks in the world with an elevation in excess of 8000 meter and is the fifth highest behind Everest, K2, Kanchenjunga and Lhotse.

Makalu, an isolated mountain, is rarely climbed due to its remoteness and technical difficulty. It has many steep pitches and narrow ridges with a highly exposed summit pyramid.

After some years of reconnaissance and unsuccessful attempts, Makalu was finally climbed in 1955 by a French team, led by Jean Franco. The first two summiteers,Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy, both known for their contribution to Maurice Herzog's legendary and famous first ascent of Anapurna in 1950, the first climbed 8000meter peak ever. What made the 1955 Makalu expedition an even bigger achievement, is the fact that in a span of few days the vast majority of the expedition reached the summit. They climbed Makalu via the Northwest side and herby opening the standard route.

To date, there have been less than 300 recorded ascents. In contrast, the summit of everest has been reached over 4000 times since the first ascent in 1953.

First ascent in 1955
First ascent in 1955

"Makalu is without doubt one of the hardest propositions of all"                                                                                                    Sir Edmund Hillary

Makalu as seen by myself from the summit of Baruntse on 2 Nov 2011


Trek Map
Trek Map
Trek profile
Trek profile
View from Shipton La        (Photo by Steve Razetti)
View from Shipton La (Photo by Steve Razetti)


Route profile
Route profile
Route from Basecamp to C3 on Makalu La
Route from Basecamp to C3 on Makalu La
Route from C3 on Makalu La to the Summit
Route from C3 on Makalu La to the Summit

It is hard to predict what the exact climbing scenario will be. This will depend on a lot of parameters: weather, acclimatization, route fixing, fatigue, 

As Makalu sits next to mighty Everest it will have one thing in common. Like on it's neighbour the jetstream is predictable. We know that it move southwards thus away from the summits somewhere in the first three weeks of may.  Moving southwards it announces the start of the monsoon in the south. When I looked at the summit statistics over the last 10 years than the most likely date to summit  will be around 15 may. The same window as Everest: the  third week of may.

In may 2014 Philippe Gatta summited Makalu via the NW route and I will take his ascent as a blueprint for our scenario. I extrapolated his ascent scenario on our time frame. This doesn't mean that we will follow it to the letter but it will give a good guideline on how we will proceed. 

Makalu basecamp is also called advanced basecamp as the Hillary basecamp is to far from the mountain to be useable. This advanced basecamp is sitting at around 5700 meter  and amongst the highest of any 8000 meter peak.  From here 3 to 4 high camps need to be established before a summit bid can be launched. In all this will take several weeks in which we will get acclimatized to the altitude while setting up those high camps.

Camp 1 (C1) :6300 m 47%

Camp 2 (C2) : 6800 m 44%

Camp 3 (C3) : 7470 m 40%

Camp 4 (C4) : 7800 m  38%

Summit Makalu : 8463 m 35%



Saturday 18 April :  Restday at ABC

Sunday 19 April : ABC - Crampon Point (5950m) - ABC

Monday 20 April : ABC

Tuesday 21 April : ABC - C1

Wednesday 22 April : C1 - C2 - C1

Thursday 23 April : C1 - ABC

Friday 24 April :  ABC

Saturday 25 April : ABC

Sunday 26 April : ABC - C1

Monday 27 April : C1 - C2

Tuesday 28 April : C2 - ABC

Wednesday 29 April :  ABC

Thursday 30 April : ABC

Friday 1 May : ABC - C2

Saturday 2 May : C2 - C3

Sunday 3 May : C3

Monday 4 May : C3 - ABC

Tuesday 5 May : ABC

Wednesday 6 May : ABC

Thursday 7 May : ABC

Wednesday 8 May : ABC

Thurday 9 May : ABC

Friday 10 may : ABC

Saturday 11 May : ABC - C2

Sunday 12 May : C2

Saturday 13 May : C2 - C3

Sunday 14 May : C3 - C4

Sunday 14 May : C4 - Summit - C3

Tuesday 16 May : C3 - ABC

Wednesday  17 May :  ABC

Thursday 18 May : reserve day

Friday 19 May : reserve day 

Saturday 20 may : reserve day

Sunday 21 May : reserve day