How Many People Climbed Makalu?

31 Jul 2022 Prakash Devkota

How Many People Climbed Makalu?

Mount Makalu, located in the southeast of Mount Everest (by 12 km) in the Nepal-Tibet borders, is the fifth highest mountain in the world. The mountain is an isolated peak like a pyramid with four sides. The mountain is named after the Hindu god “Maha Kala,” after lord Shiva. The word “maha Kala” literally translates to big black.

Due to its notable height and reputation, Mount Makalu is quite popular among the mountaineering community but considered very difficult to climb. Since it remains at such a high altitude and is seemingly very difficult to submit, how many people climb Makalu?

As per the data of the Nepal tourism board, around 499 people have summited Makalu as of June 2018. There have been about 22 fatalities while ascending this mountain.

When asked what is the easiest 8000 meters peak to climb, the answer list to the question will certainly not involve Mount Makalu. With a staggering height of 8485 meters, it falls under the 14 eight-thousanders(the 14 mountains above the height of 8000 meters) and is also considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb.

The Himalayas of Nepal is quite a famous destination for mountaineers around the world as it houses many eight-thousanders. Makalu is among those mountains that most mountaineers were very fascinated by before first ascending it. Makalu is considered one of the most difficult to climb eight-thousanders. The road to Makalu has three sections: the easier glacier climb on the low slopes, the notorious pitches and sharp-edged ridges, and at the summit, the mountain the massively dangerous ice climbing.

Since the route of Makalu climbing is so bad, it does not receive as many expeditors as the other mountains. It is 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. Since the structure of Makalu is so hard, the scaling of Mount Makalu was not done before Everest, and the possible journey was studied through the expeditions to Mount Everest.

In this article, we will take you down the road to the various expeditions to Makalu and their trials, failures, and success. We will also see some notable adventures made by mountaineers around the world while scaling the mountain.

The Earlier Expeditions

The first attempt to ascend Makalu was made a year after the successful summit of Mount Everest in 1954. A Group of 3 expeditions was made: an American team, a British team, and a Frech team. The American mountaineers, led by W. Seyra, climbed up to 7100 meters through Makalu’s southern ridge. Another group of British mountaineers reached up to the height of 6500 meters through the North col. The French mountainers reached the highest altitude of 7600 meters at the North- East summit of Makalu

None of the teams from the first attempt could scale to the summit of the mountain. However, in 1955, Lionel Terray and Jean Couzry, members of the French expedition led by Jean Franco, finished the first successful peak summit to Makalu. They successfully summited Makalu’s top on 15th May 1955.

The next day another group of mountaineers, Franco, Guido Magnone, and Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa, summited the mountain. Following that, a group of French climbers, Bouvier, Serge Coupe, Pierre Leroux, and Andre Vialatte, finished their summit on the 17th of May 1955.

The expeditions completed by these three groups were a remarkable achievement. This allowed the Makalu mountain expedition to come into play. The route taken by the French team, by the north face and northeast ridge, through the saddle between Makalu and Makalu-La (Kangchungste), established a standard route to climb the mountain.

On Summitting Makalu

Some other notable expeditions

Here are some notable summits made through various routes throughout the years to Makalu.

  • In 1971, two frenchmen, Mellet and Y. Seigneur summited the moutain via West Pillar route.
  • In 1975, a team of Slovenes climbers reached the summit through the South pillar route and gained the status of the first Slovenes to summit an 8th thousand.
  • A renowned Polish climber, Jerzy Kukuczka, ascended the mountain in 1981 through a new route; up the north-western side and north crest. He also happened to climb solo without any oxygen supplement.
  • In 1988, Frenchman Marc Batard summited the mountain in a day via the West Buttress.
  • In 1990, Makalu had its first female climber, Kitty Calhoun, summit its peak.
  • In 1997, after several failed attempts made to climb the mountain through the West face was successful. A Russian expedition led by Sergey Efimov with 5 other team members made this happen.
  • While trying to make the first winter ascent to the mountain on around 27th January 2006, French mountaineer, Jean- Christophe Lafaille disappeared.
  • After the tragic loss and failure of the 2006 winter ascent attempt by Jean- Cristophe, in February of 2009, Makalu was first summited during winter by Italian climbers Simone Moro and Kazah Denis Urbko.

More info and conclusion

The given data, facts, and figures show us that the Mount Makalu climbing expedition is unique to say the least.

A general idea of mountain climbing to Makalu can be taken from the facts above. We know the Makalu is scaled during spring like any other Nepali Himalayas. Many trials of scaling the mountain in winter seem to have been made too.

We can observe that several routes were navigated even during the early 90s. The several attempts made by the first few expeditors to the peak is a proof that this is no easy mountain to scale. So, when you get a very small number when you ask an expert how many people have climbed Makalu, it shouldn’t be very surprising.

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    Prakash Devkota

    Managing Director and Team Leader

    Mr. Prakash Chandra Devkota is a well-known entrepreneur with a deep-rooted passion for elevating the tourism industry in Nepal. Due to his dedication, hard work, and hospitable nature, he has established himself as a successful businessman. He also has a great enthusiasm for adventure and social work.

    Mr. Devkota hails from the beautiful hilly region of Gorkha District. He started his career as a guide in 1997 and quickly became a reputed figure in the Tourism Industry because of his extensive experience. He has gathered impressive experience in all Trekking and Climbing Routes, such as Mera, Island, Lobuche, Ama Dablam etc.

    His success also lies in his brilliant mind and hospitable nature. He is fully dedicated to providing excellent services and introducing innovative concepts. With more than 15 years of experience in trekking and expedition operations in Nepal, Tibet, India, and Bhutan, he has earned a reputation as a renowned leader in the field. He understands the importance of personalized service for creating memorable experiences for his clients and constantly seeks innovative company operation methods. He strongly believes in the power of the tourism industry and is confident that its development can empower the youth and help the economy flourish in the long run.