The first successful asent of Makalu was made by a French team in 1955 via the North-East Ridge, now considered the standard route to the summit. Particular about this climb was that the complete team made it to the summit. Now 60 years later, the Makalu 2015 expedition led by Jean-Luc Fohal and Sofie Lenaerts including six other Belgian mountaineers: Stef Maginelle, Guido Riemenschneider, Christiane Blaise, Koen Verschraegen, Rudi Bollaert and myself, supported by 4 high altitude Sherpa's, will make the same attempt in commemoration.
The team will fly to Kathmandu from Brussels on 5 april 2015, with their air partner Turkish Airlines. On arrival in Kathmandu expeditions members will fly to the remote airstrip of Tumlingtar (510m) to begin the ten-day trek to Makalu Base Camp at 5600m. From there the lengthy process of acclimatization and establishing a series of camps will start. The Highest will be camp 3 at 7400m, an extra bivouac will be set up at around 7800m. Summit bids are foreseen from mid may 2015.
Today a long day of travel. We leave KTM early and head for the airport to catch our 45 minutes flight to hot and humid Tumlingtar. The flight in itself is already a top experience as the flightpath to Tumlingtar goes parallel with the Himalaya and offers for those on the left side of the plane magnificent views on all major Peaks. Absolutely breathtaking. But the day was far from over. After lunch all our gear was finally arrived in Tumlingtar and we set out for a six hour jeep ride over muddy trails to Num that we reached by nightfall. A nice dinner and welcome cake made up for all the bruises from the bumpy ride. As it had rained all afternoon our North Fake tents were soaking wet. But we didn't complain. Our adventure was staring at last.
Num 1500-Sheduwa 1500 (5,5 km) O2 84%
After a good nights sleep I woke up with the sound of playing children. The sun hits the misty valleys below us. We can already see our destination Sheduwa across the Arun valley. Climbers, trekkers and staff are eager to go. While the porters and the sirdar discussed what to carry and how much, I lean back and enjoy with a hot cup of coco my first morning of this expedition.
At last we're really off, our caravan of porters, sherpa's, trekkers and climbers snakes down to the Arun river 700 meter below. We walk through terraced wheat fields, while in every house we pass we are greeted by waiving children. The further down we go the denser the rainforest becomes until we finally reach the Arun river.From the hanging bridge over the Arun river it's a 700 meter climb through terraced wheat and rice fields to our today's campsite at Sheduwa
From the hanging bridge over the Arun river it's a 700 meter climb through terraced wheat and rice fields to the campsite in Sheduwa. Great place for watching the sun set and rise.
Sheduwa 1500 -Tashi Gaon 2100 (8,5 km) O2 79%
Rice fields villages and children was today's theme. Over gently slopes and paths we winded our way up.
On the wet slopes towards Tashi Gaon be aware of leaches. They are everywhere. What amazed me the most was the special light and the contrast of the colourfull prayer flags against the green of the rice and wheatfields. The weather seemed to have a pattern. Mornings announced sunshine but by midday clouds moved in. So far we haven't seen any snow capped mountain.
Saturday 11 April : Trek to Khongma 3600m (6 km) 66%
Sunday 12 April : Trek via Shipton La 4320m, Keke La 4152m to Mumbuk 3520m (8 km) 66%
Monday 13 April : Trek to Yangle Kharka 4320m (9,5 km) 60 %
Tuesday 14 April: Trek to Yak 4100m (5,5 km) 62%
Wednesday 15 April : Trek to Hillary Base Camp 4870m (11 km) 56%
Thursday 16 April : Restday at Hillary Base Camp (0 km) 56%
Friday 17 April : Climb to Makalu Base Camp (ABC) 5720m (9 km) 50%