How Difficult is Makalu Climb?

7 Aug 2022 Prakash Devkota

How Difficult is Makalu Climb?

Makalu, the world’s fifth highest peak, is a majestic mountain. It lies northeast of Mount Everest. It is often compared with other eight-thousanders and lies near Mount Everest. Despite that, Makalu doesn’t have many climbers. One of the main reasons is the land structure of the Makalu climb. It is very technical.

The facts also show that the number of people scaling the mountain is quite less compared to other Himalayan climbs in Nepal. Around 500 people have scaled the mountain. There have been around 20 fatalities while climbing the mountain. So, how difficult is Makalu climb?

The difficulty of trekking a mountain trail usually depends on the altitude it lies. It also depends on the time it takes to climb the mountain. This article will explain the factors responsible for making the Makalu climb difficult.

14 mountain peaks around the world exceed the altitude of 8000meters, and Makalu is one of them. However, Makalu is considered one of the most difficult to climb eight-thousanders. The foremost reason is the gruesome road to Makalu.

The answer to Makalu’s difficulty can be found only by understanding the mountain trail’s land structure. The road to Makalu has three sections in chronology. They are :

  1. the easier glacier climb on the low slopes
  2. the notorious pitches and sharp-edged ridges
  3. at the summit of the mountain lies a dangerous ice climbing.

Easier slopped glaciers

The lower altitude of the Makalu climb is not very steep. They house glaciers that you ought to climb. Although easier compared to the land structure further up, they are still dangerous.

On Summitting Makalu

Pitches and sharp-edged ridges

The higher altitude climbing requires traveling through roads with very steep pitches and knife-sharp ridges that are quite dangerous.

The massively dangerous ice climbing

The peak of Makalu is shaped like a four sided-pyramid. The navigation of the route to the top was quite difficult and still is. The summit of the peak requires technical rock climbing proficiency. You ought to climb through the ice to reach the summit.

Weather and climate-based difficulty.

The Himalayan treks often have a particular climbing season. If you plan your climb/trek in such a suitable season, your journey will be more comfortable. The comfortable seasons are usually spring and autumn.

The winter and monsoon, however, bring very harsh climate and weather issues. Not only do they cause the trails to become more difficult, but they also bring in other difficulties to the trek/climb. Harsher weather and climate increase the risk of health issues, compel travelers to carry heavy luggage, and increase the risks of falls and injury.

Therefore the answer to how difficult Makalu also depends on weather and climate.

How difficult is Makalu expedition compared to Everest?

We have already established the fact that the route of Makalu climbing is so bad. It does not receive as many expeditors as the other mountains. Despite not being as high as Everest, Makalu may even be considered more difficult than Everest.

The Makalu trails are not nearly as crowded as Everest. Moreover, the number of people who have scaled Mount Everest is higher than those who have climbed Mount Makalu. Saying that climbing Makalu is more difficult than Everest would not be a stretch.

The Makalu expedition was considered dangerous even before the first summit. There were various attempts of mountaineers to Makalu, but they failed because the navigation and the path were very harsh. Since the structure of Makalu is so technical, the scaling of Mount Makalu was not even attempted before the successful scale to the Everest summit.

Mountaineers used the Everest expeditions to understand Makalu. The possible journey, its navigation, and challenges were made by studying Everest climbs.

Makalu Summit (8463m/27758ft)

Other challenges of Makalu

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is a common but very deadly occurrence while climbing high-altitude places like Makalu. Altitude sickness might result in deadly neurological issues like High Altitude Pulmonary Edema(HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE).

Oxygen Deprivation

It is a well-known scientific fact that the higher altitude you reach, the less oxygen saturation in the air. The dropping of oxygen levels might cause serious danger. Hence, carrying oxygen supplements is vital during such travels.


As this article has mentioned several times, the expedition to Makalu is quite difficult; you out to be at a top-notch fitness level to scale the mountain. The travel wil be very exhausting. Although you might get a porter to help you with luggage, without being athletic level fit, if you plan to scale the mountain, you will fail.


Falls are the most unexpected individual challenges during a mountain climb. One simple mistake, and you could easily die. The technical challenges of Makalu cause fall risk to be higher.

Psychological and Neurological issues

Mountain climbing can trigger a lot of psychological issues. Summit fever, anxiety, and panic attack disorders are very likely. Furthermore, such climbs also trigger neurological issues mostly caused by the high altitude. Conditions like hypoxia, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema(HAPE), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), and sudden lapse to coma could occur.

Tools to mitigate difficulties

Below are some methods you can apply to mitigate or prevent difficulties of your Makalu expedition.

  • When traveling for such a long time at such a high altitude, acclimatization is crucial. Altitude sickness will be avoided. You should stop traveling if you start to experience any symptoms of altitude sickness.
  • Supplemental oxygen is necessary while visiting high-altitude locations. You should stay away from such hikes if you have health difficulties like asthma.
  • Travel when the weather is right to avoid a difficult road and to make it more convenient. You might also have a more gorgeous journey by doing this.
  • To prevent issues brought on by the chilly weather, such as frostbite, wear warm clothing and carry extra thermal protection.
  • To protect yourself against illnesses like hypothermia, hydrate by drinking warm soup or water.
  • Before you start planning your trip, work on improving your physical condition. By doing this, you may prevent a lot of difficulties from occurring while you are trekking. So, start exercising a long time before you make the expedition.
  • Be cautious when traveling; make sure that your primary concern on the hike is walking cautiously, with taking pictures coming in second.
  • Travel with guides and porters to increase your safety and lessen the fatigue brought on by your heavy load. The experienced guides will not only keep you safe from the trek’s hazards but will also educate you about the circuit’s geography, history, culture, and a wealth of other topics.
  • Take the necessary trekking/climbing equipment with you.


The article has already delved deep into different factors you need to note about the Makalu mountain expeditions. Various factors aiding the difficulty of Makalu mountain treks are simplified. The conclusion of the Makalu climbing difficulty being very high seems to be a no-brainer.

However, various trekking/climbing tools can easily overcome these difficulties. Such tools will be provided by us at peak climbing Nepal. We have a package with an itinerary that takes care of acclimatization and covers necessary items for the climb like oxygen supplements and travel gear, and so on. It also sees suitable weather and covers up guides or porters as well. So, book your Makalu expedition at peak climbing Nepal and have a very well-guided and supported climb to Makalu.


Prakash Devkota

Managing Director and Team Leader

Mr. Prakash Chandra Devkota is an established name in the Tourism Sector in Nepal. He is a focused individual gifted with a brilliant mind. He is also hugely dedicated to social work. Born in the Gorkha district, a beautiful hilly region of Nepal, he first entered the tourism industry as a guide in 1997. He has gained extensive experience in almost all the trekking and climbing routes like Mera, Island, Lobuche and, Ama Dablam, etc.

He registered Nepal Guides Treks & Expedition in 2009 AD. Due to his passion for adventure and efforts to provide quality personalized service to his clients, he has established himself as a successful tourism entrepreneur. He has dedicated most of his time working diligently to elevate the tourism industry and collected more than 15 years of experience in organizing trekking and expeditions in Nepal, Bhutan, and India. He believes in the power of the tourism industry and the employment opportunities that can be created through it. He constantly looks for innovative ways to run the company.

Mr. Devkota has always been an avid practitioner of eco-friendly tourism and has always promoted environmental conservation throughout his career. He motivates his staff to embrace eco-friendly tourism through responsible tourism practices. He believes promoting eco-tourism will preserve natural resources and positively impact the environment.