Mount Makalu: Interesting Facts About 5th Highest Peak In The World

Mount Makalu, a dream destination for many mountaineers, is also known as one of the most challenging and difficult mountains to climb. Its sharp pitches, challenging terrains, and technical difficulties have earned it a fearful reputation. Yet, the desire to explore this distinctive and impressive mountain remains high among mountaineers.

Despite attracting a lower number of climbers compared to other popular mountains, Mount Makalu offers diverse routes, each with its unique challenges. This legendary landmark, located at an altitude of 8485 meters in the Mahalangur mountain range of Nepal, is often described as the mysterious peak. Its four-sided pyramid-shaped peak and the pure air and deep valleys create an enchanting experience for climbers.

Makalu Himal also has subsidiary peaks like Kang Chun Tse or Makalu II (7678 meters) and Chomo Lonzo ( 7804 meters). It is famous for its distinctive four-sided pyramid-shaped peak.

Makalu Mountain is a place of wonder, where the pure air and deep valleys create an enchanting experience for climbers. The mountain peak, with its breathtaking golden hue during sunrise, is a sight that uplifts spirits and creates lifelong memories. The awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Makalu is a testament to the grandeur of nature and a source of admiration for climbers.

A Brief History of Mount Makalu

A Brief History of Mount Makalu

Makalu lies on the border between Nepal and Tibet and is surrounded by the iconic Everest, Lhotse, and Kangchenjunga. Due to the technical difficulty, it remained unexplored and isolated for centuries. While the southedge ridge is the most commonly taken route, there are also other routes like the northeast ridge, the west pillar, and west face. All the routes have their respective challenges and one should be a skilled mountaineer in order to ascend to the summit successfully.

Mount Makalu’s history is as fascinating as its peak. The first expedition, the California Himalayan Expedition, was led by Riley Keegan, who attempted the southwest ridge but had to turn back due to storms. It wasn’t until May 1955, when a French expedition led by Jean Franco took the route of Northface and Northeast Ridge, that the mountain was first summited. In 1997, the west face was summited by the Russian Expedition team led by Sergey Efimov. Kitty Calhoun became the first female climber to make a successful ascent to Mount Makalu in 1990.

In February 2009, Simone Moro and Kazakh Denis first climbed Mount Makalu in winter. February 9, 2009, became a remarkable day, making it the first successful climb of Mount Makalu in the winter, and also the final 8000er mountain of Nepal climbed on the same day. On May 8, 2022, Karl Egloff, a Swiss-Ecuadorian mountaineer, climbed the mountain in 17 hours and 16 seconds.

Some interesting facts about Makalu Mountain

Some interesting facts about Makalu Mountain

1) Mount Makalu offers majestic views, but it is a demanding climb.

Navigating through the challenging climb routes, unpredictable weather conditions, and ice slopes is a physically demanding climb. It is a daunting challenge even to the skilled climbers which demands a lot of courage and determination.

Makalu requires a long period of climbing in the steep inclines to progress up to the summit.The extreme cold, knife- edge ridges require you to have the skills and also the physical fitness before embarking on this journey. Due to the strong wind and avalanche, Makalu has been included in the list of the hardest 8000ers to climb. However, the views are majestic which has captivated the attention of the climbers who attempt this scenic climb.

2) Mount Makalu is famous for its distinct triangular or pyramid-like appearance.

The distinct and pyramid like appearance makes Mount Makalu among the most visually beautiful mountains in the world. The iconic and pyramid shape with four sharp ridges visible from certain angles creates an unforgettable experience for the climbers. The incredible beauty of the mountain is truly captivating and visually pleasing.

3) The region around Mount Makalu is blessed with rich biodiversity.

Makalu region is called as haven for biodiversity. The diverse range of the flora and fauna contributes to the biological richness of the region.

4) Makalu Expedition offers stunning panoramic views of peaks such as Everest, Lhotse and many more.

Mount Makalu offers stunning views of Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga, Cho Oyu, Chamlang, Ama Dablam, and other surrounding peaks. Witnessing the majestic mountain’s stunning beauty and panoramic views will bless your eyes. The scenic and thrilling climb uplifts your spirits, blesses your eyes, and immerses you in the beauty of nature.

5) The weather is unpredictable in Makalu mountain.

The high winds, possibility of sudden storms and the possibility of temperature change anytime stays as a huge challenge for the climbers. Even though the weather is quite unpredictable, it is important to select the most optimal time for the expedition, being well informed about the pros and cons of every season.

6) Ascending to Makalu requires advanced mountaineering skills.

Climbing Mount Makalu is a feat that requires advanced mountaineering skills and thorough preparation. The complicated terrains and challenging routes demand a seasoned mountaineer. The use of specialized mountaineering gear such as ice axes and ropes is not just a necessity, but a mark of respect for the mountain and its challenges. The experience of prior climbs is a prerequisite, with experts advising a few easier climbs before attempting Makalu.

7) Mount Makalu is full of steep, Snowy slopes and rocky walls.

Mount Makalu is full of steep snowy slopes and rocky walls making it a challenging climb. It requires a huge focus, strength, and determination to go through the route full of rocky paths along the edge of the glacier. Clambering up to the cliff face, one must be skilled enough using rope to avoid any possible accidents. The terrain becomes more challenging as the journey progresses. Passing through the rocky terrain may be exhausting, so you must be skilled enough and have a great physical endurance to face such challenges as you ascend towards the summit.

8) Spring and Autumn are the ideal time for climbers

Spring season, particularly the month of April – May is the most suitable time for the climbers to ascend to Mt. Makalu as the temperature is usually moderate. The day time temperature of spring season in the base camp is around 0°C to 10°C while night time temperature drops up to -10°C to -20°C.

As you ascend towards the high camp even during the day the temperature is around -20°C to -30°C and drop up to -30°C at night time.The views in spring are enchanting and beautiful.

The autumn months of (September- November) are also quite popular. The trails are ideal and convenient. The weather conditions are favorable which is rewarding to the climbers as they get to witness the mesmerizing view of stunning mountains. The rainfall is less likely to occur, which makes it the perfect time for Expedition. The spectacular view of the enchanting mountain peaks is clearly visible, which adds charm to your special journey.

The day time temperature ranges from 0°C to 10°C at the base camp while the temperature may drop up to -10°C to -20°C in the night time.

As you climb up to higher camps the temperature during the day time ranges from -10°C to -20°C while in the night it may be around -25°C to -30°C.

The weather conditions in the winter season ( December to February) are extreme. The temperature drops up to -40°C. There are heavy snowfalls and strong winds so climbing in the winter is extremely challenging which makes Spring and Autumn the ideal time to embark on this journey.

The Fatality Rate in Makalu Mountain

The Fatality Rate in Makalu Mountain

The estimated climber death rate of makalu mountain from 1950 to 2012 is reported as 1.63 %. The number of ascents was 361 and there were 31 deaths.

Climbing Makalu mountain is technically challenging and dangerous, the risk of avalanches and high winds is huge, which is a big obstacle. In May 2022, there were 647 successful ascents and 48 deaths.

The common cause of death is due to altitude sickness, high altitude cerebral edema exhaustion, dying from a fall, frostbite, and storms. The cause of deaths of some climbers is unspecified, many also reportedly passed away due to unknown illness. In the spring of 2002, 6 climbers died due to unspecified reasons. There have also been cases of the disappearance of climbers.

Things to be noted before ascending Mount Makalu

Things to be noted before ascending Mount Makalu

You should be well informed on the acclimatization process.

In high-altitude regions, there is a risk of getting altitude sickness so being well informed on the acclimatization process is extremely important for the climbers. Firstly, you must be physically fit before attempting to climb the mountain. So, planning your journey, making gradual ascents and taking rest days for your body to adapt is extremely essential for the expedition. You should be well hydrated.

You may also use preventive medicines that help to reduce the side effects of altitude sickness after taking advice from the experts. Eating lots of garlic or having soup that includes garlic as one of the ingredients may also help against altitude sickness.

Climbing to Mt. Makalu requires well-crafted planning.

Climbing the Makalu mountain is very challenging. You must be well informed about the challenges you can face along the trail. It is a quiet and remote trail compared to the other most visited trekking destination.You should make sure to listen to the advice given by a well experienced guide.

Climbing Makalu mountain requires well crafted planning on how to face the logistics challenges so it is important to make proper preparation.

The guides are well experienced and have knowledge of how to handle the potential challenges.

They are familiar with the route’s acclimatization process and will provide their insights helping you to make informed decisions. Following the protocols suggested by the guides will ensure a safe, enjoyable, and successful journey.

Securing a permit is essential.

It is essential for the climbers to obtain a permit issued by the Nepal government. It is a requirement to ensure that the climbers follow the guidelines and regulations. The essential permits are as follows-

  • Makalu restricted area Permit.
  • Makalu Rural Municipality Permit
  • Makalu Barun National Park Permit.
  • Trekking Information Management System (TIMS) Card.
  • Permit from Nepal Mountaineering Association ( NMA).
  • The Liaison Officer will accompany the team during climbing to ensure that the regulations are followed properly and provide any assistance needed.

The diverse climbing routes offered by Mount Makalu.

The diverse climbing routes offered by Mount Makalu.

Makalu Mountain offers various routes; some of the most popular trekking routes are :

Southeast Ridge

It is the most commonly taken route. You have to pass through rock slabs, several steep ice areas and even cross crevasses and ice cliffs to finally reach the summit. A high level of experience is needed to navigate the technical challenges and face the obstacles. The journey to this route starts from the Makalu Base Camp.

Northwest Ridge

Northeast Ridge is comparatively more complex than the Southeast Ridge, but it offers striking and enchanting views of the mountains. It was first climbed in 1971. The path is harsh and steep, making it a difficult climb.

West Pillar

It is considered as a complicated and dangerous route because of the strong winds. The first ascent on the west pillar was made on May, 1971 by two French Climbers. Kitty Calhoun who is the first woman to climb makalu made her ascent via West Pillar.

West Face

One of the most challenging routes which passes through icy slopes and exposed terrain was first summited in 1997. It demands well crafted preparation, and requires advanced navigation to ensure the safety of the climbers. West Face is mostly attempted by those who are advanced seasoned climbers with advanced mountaineering skills.

List of the essential mountaineering gear, equipment, and items for the Makalu Expedition

List of the essential mountaineering gear, equipment, and items for the Makalu Expedition

  • Ice axes ( essential for maintaining balance and helping in the movement process).
  • Mountaineering Boots ( for maintaining stability, protection, and warmth).
  • Crampons ( to help mobility during the climbing).
  • Harness (to ensure maximum safety).
  • Fixed Rope ( for assisting the climbers).
  • Climbing Rope (to assist the climbers while climbing up and down).
  • Sleeping Bag ( for being warm and comfortable).
  • Jumar/ Ascender
  • Tent ( for taking shelter ).
  • Trekking Poles (to provide stability and support).
  • Gas stove ( for preparing meals and boiling water).
  • Gas fuel ( as a source used in gas stoves).
  • Helmet ( for protection).
  • Tape slings ( used as anchors).
  • Mountaineering Jackets ( for protection against the freezing temperature).
  • Water Bottles ( for hydration).
  • Trousers and Salopettes (to ensure protection from rocks and ice).
  • Altimeter watch ( to measure the altitude).
  • Headlamps ( for visibility).
  • Thermos ( to store the water).
  • Cooking pot, bowl, and spoon/fork (required for cooking and eating).
  • Head Lamp ( for the source of light).
  • Mattress ( for adding comfort while sleeping on tents).
  • Ski goggles ( for protection of your eyes).
  • Snow shovel ( for removing snow and ice).
  • Backpack
  • Map, Compass, GPS device, and Personal Locator Beacon.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Toiletries ( wet tissue, toothpaste, Toothbrush, soap)

Also Read: Mountaineering Gear Essentials

FAQs ( Frequently Asked Questions) about Mount Makalu

FAQs ( Frequently asked questions) about Mount Makalu

Where is Mount Makalu?

Makalu Mountain lies in the Mahalangur Himalayas on the China ( Tibet ) border.

Is having previous experience in climbing the mountains necessary to climb Mount Makalu?

Yes, previous experience is required to climb the mountain as it is one of the most challenging expeditions and one of the hardest Mountains to climb. So, you must have previous experience in mountaineering.

Is climbing Mount Makalu difficult?

Ascending to Makalu is challenging as the mountain is full of steep slopes making it one of the hardest mountains to climb.So, the difficulty level is high.

What are the possible obstacles faced by the climbers during the Makalu expedition?

The possible risks are altitude sickness, exhaustion, avalanches, snowstorms, technical climbing errors, and unpredictable weather conditions. So, following all the safety protocols directed by the staff is very important.

Is it possible to climb Makalu Mountain without a guide?

No, you must be accompanied by a guide for the support and technical assistance required during the expedition. Experienced guides will be very helpful, especially on challenging routes like Mount Makalu.

Which season is best for climbing Makalu Mountain?

The favorable times for Makalu Expeditions are in Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-November) due to the clear sky and stable weather. Experts also highly recommend the spring and autumn seasons.

Is physical fitness a necessity for the Makalu Expedition?

Yes, the Makalu Expedition is physically challenging, it requires a lot of physical endurance so it is important to be physically fit before climbing the mountain.

Also Read: Makalu Base Camp

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