Mount Makalu is situated in the Mahalangur Himalayas, which is southeast of Mount Everest. It is located on the China-Nepal border. Makalu is one of the most popular among 8000-ers, but it is an isolated peak. It is also shaped like a four-sided pyramid. This peak is also the fifth tallest mountain in the world. Despite being shorter than Mount Everest, there have not been as many mountaineers who have succeeded in climbing Mount Makalu. Hence, it is one of the most difficult peaks in the world to climb.
A lot of mountaineers tend to think of Mount Makalu’s base camp trek and the itinerary when it comes to going on a trek along with climbing the mountain. There are several other facts about Mount Makalu that you might be interested in; make sure to read till the end of this article to know more about going to Mount Makalu’s base camp and some of the most interesting facts about the peak!
Mount Makalu is the fifth tallest mountain in the whole world. This mountain stands tall at the height of 8,481 meters (27,825 ft) above sea level. There are two prominent peaks in Mount Makalu, which are. Kangchungtse, or Makalu II, at the height of 7,678 m, and Chomo Lonzo at the height of 7,804 m. Makalu II is three kilometers (two miles) north-northwest from the summit of Makalu, and Chomo Lonzo is 5 km (3 mi) north-northeast from the main Makalu summit across an expansive plateau. The Chomo Lonzo is connected to Makalu II by an inflexible 7,200 m harness.
Is Mount Makalu difficult to climb?
Yes, Mount Makalu is one of the tallest mountains in the world and one among the eight-thousanders. Mountains that exceed the height of 8000m are often considered as the peaks going beyond the Death Zone, which is where the chances of fatality are very high, and the oxygen is not plentiful despite the artificial oxygen one can intake through cylinders. Among the fourteen peaks in the world, Makalu is the fifth tallest and one of the most difficult to climb.
Mount Makalu is not necessarily technical, though you will need several mountaineering gears and equipment to climb the mountain. The peak is very steep, which makes going up the mountain quite tough. Moreover, just going to the base camp can also be a challenge for a lot of people as it is located at a height of 5700m.
The most important elements to carry along and keep at all times on your way up to the mountain are a Sherpa guide and an oxygen cylinder. You are not going to make it out of the summit safely if you don’t have either of these two factors with you. In case of favorable weather, you are likely to complete the summit in only 51 hours. However, the harsher the weather conditions, the tougher your journey will become.
Likewise, it is not probable that you are even going to successfully climb the mountain if the weather or the conditions of the mountain become too harsh.
Which is the best season to climb Mount Makalu?
Mount Makalu can be best climbed during the spring season. In Nepal, May is one of the best months when you can climb the mountain without having to fear bad weather conditions and excessive heat or cold. While autumn is also just as popular among mountaineers to climb Mount Makalu, climbing the mountain during the spring season will certainly simplify your journey and make it easier for you to make it back and forth to the mountain without many natural obligations on the way.
Is Mount Makalu harder to climb than Mount Everest?
No, Mount Makalu is not as hard to climb as Mount Everest. After Mount K2, Mount Everest is the most dangerous mountain in the world. In fact, Everest is also the tallest mountain in the world and is very technical in that matter. However, Mount Makalu is quite difficult and steep to climb, but it isn’t as tough to summit as Mount Everest.
However, an assumption remains among mountaineers that Mount Makalu just might have the chances of being more difficult given the fact that there have been several attempts and summits of Mount Everest to this day, but not many people have yet been able to climb or summit Mount Makalu. At the same time, Mount Makalu does not see as much traffic from mountaineers as does Everest.
Makalu base camp trek
To go to the Makalu base camp trek, you will require a permit called Makalu Barun National Park Conservation Area permit, which is USD $30 per person, and a Trekkers’ Information Management Systems (TIMS) card that costs USD 20 per person. Similarly, the height of the hike is normally 5,050m. Climbing up a bit higher can take you up to a height of 5,300m. From this height, you will be able to get the perfect view of other eight thousanders, or the first and the third tallest mountains in the world, Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse, respectively. Trekking to the base camp does not really require a guide as the base camp trek isn’t as technical or even difficult as it is to climb the mountain itself. However, one can use the map to get help around the area and to fetch places for tea and rest.
The wife and internet connection in the Makalu base camp is not the best. In order to make it to just the base camp, you have to carry with you thermal inners, a solid pair of hiking boots and socks, gear and equipment like headtorch and trekking poles, snacks, sunscreen, heavy-duty down jacket, durable and thick pants, gloves, sunscreen, water bottle, etc.
Makalu base camp trek itinerary
Makalu base camp trek itinerary has been listed below;
- Day 1: Tumlingtar to Num
- Day 2: Trek to Seduwa
- Day 3: Trek to Tashigaon
- Day 4: Trek to Khongma Danda
- Day 5: Acclimatization Day in Khongma Danda
- Day 6: Trek to Dobate from Shipton La (4,229 m)
- Day 7: Trek to Yangle Kharka
- Day 8: Trek to Langmale Kharka
- Day 9: Trek to Makalu Base Camp
- Day 10 : Hike up to Everest Viewpoint
- Day 11: Trek to Yangle Kharka
- Day 12 : Trek to Dobate
- Day 13: Trek to Khongma Danda
- Day 14 : Trek to Tashigaon
- Day 15 : Trek to Seduwa
- Day 16 : Trek to Num
- Day 17 : Tumlingtar to Kathmandu
What is the origin of the name Makalu for Mount Makalu?
Mount Makalu gets its name from the Sanskrit word Maha Kala, which denotes the other name of the Hindu god Lord Shiva. The meaning of Maha Kala translates to Big Black in English. Standing by its name, starting from the Makalu base camp, the mountain is very steep and dangerous. Not many have made it out of the mountain without facing some sort of risky incident. There are many areas in the mountain that are dark, which gets even riskier and darker to climb during dawn. Mount Makalu is one such mountain that has always had greater risks of killing mountaineers in comparison to any other mountains in the world. Hence, the name that it has truly justifies the nature of the peak.
How many people have climbed Mount Makalu?
To this day, there have been several attempts and summits of Mount Makalu. Mount Makalu really isn’t the easiest mountain to climb, but for almost a century, records of summits and attempts have been there. In the spring of 1954, Riley Keegan led a team with Bill Long and Allen Steck along with several other Sierra Club members. These mountaineers were all American. They named their team the California Himalayan Expedition to Makalu. Though they made an attempt, they could not succeed in climbing the mountain successfully.
In the same year, a team from New Zealand, including Sir Edmund Hilary, also made an attempt but could not reach the summit of Mount Makalu very high or far. Unfortunately, their conditions made them return from the mountain soon. Likewise, the French reconnaissance expedition also made an expedition to Mount Makalu’s subsidiary peaks, Kangchungtse and Chomo Lonzo, in 1954.
Likewise, several other climbers climbed the mountain in different years, namely 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2006, 2009, and 2022 by many teams throughout the world.
Who summited Mount Makalu for the first time?
Though attempts to summit the peak started in 1954, the first successful summit was only finally made the very next year in 1954 by a French expedition led by Jean Franco. Two members of this team, Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy, were the first expeditors of the peak. Franco, Guido Magnone, and Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa reached the summit a day after the first two mountaineers. Jean Bouvier, Serge Coupé, Pierre Leroux, and André Vialatte, again, made their summit one day after Franco, Magnone, and Sherpa. The summit of the entire team took place between the 15th to 17th of May, 1955. This team ascended Makalu from the north face and northeast ridge through the harness between Makalu and Kangchungtse, also known as the Makalu-La.
The French team really marked history by climbing the otherwise mountain with such a big team. And it was not just a few members but a whole lot of team members that made it to the summit of Mount Makalu, which really meant a lot in the mountaineering history. After this expedition, there were not many who could make it up to the top of the mountain. A few would simply return home due to excessive difficulty, bad health, and so on. However, there have been several successful summits of Mount Makalu, though not as many as other eight-thousanders like Mount Everest.
Disappearance of Lafaille during winter ascent
January 27, 2006, marks the disappearance of French mountaineer Lafaille. This mountain climber wanted to become the first person to ever make a winter ascent to Mount Makalu. On top of that, he wanted to be the very person who did so. This encouraged him to go to the peak alone, guided by only a few sherpas and porters who would help him on his way to make history. Till that date, there weren’t a lot of people throughout the world who had been acclimatized to that height and altitude. Moreover, the bad weather during winter made mountaineers keep a distance from the mountain.
Lafaille made a call to his wife Katia and informed her that he would call her when he reached the French Couloir, which happened to be a 3-hour distance from where he had been. Unfortunately, the call never returned. There was no trace of one of the best French alpinists in the world. After a few hours, he had contacted his wife. Rescue teams were not as proficient to go up to the height of such a deadly mountain to conduct a rescue. Katia started panicking, but there really was no way out to get her husband out of the mountain. Lafaille’s disappearance remains a mystery to this day.
Lafaille’s journey started with a helicopter from Kathmandu to the base camp of Makalu. From there, he took off with porters and sherpas. After the phone call, though, he completely vanished without a trace. There have been assumptions of him being swept away by the wind or being pushed to death by an avalanche. But, several years later, there is almost no way one has been able to come to a conclusion as to how one of the best French alpinists disappeared with nothing to conclude in Mount Makalu.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mount Makalu
In which state Mount Makalu is located?
Mount Makalu is located in Makalu-Barun Valley in the Sankhuwasabha district, Nepal.
Is Makalu harder than Everest?
No, Makalu is not as hard to climb as Everest, though there is a fairly lower number of mountaineers who have climbed the peak.
In which country is Makalu peak?
Mount Makalu is in Nepal.
How many people died on Makalu?
40 people have died in Makalu.
Who climbed Makalu first?
Lionel Terray and Jena Couzy climbed Makalu first.