Aug 19, 2012

Sounds like vindaloo... and nearly as spicy. Makalu, Nepal. 8,463m/27,765ft. September - October 2012.

"While standing on top of Everest, I looked across the valley, towards the other great peak, Makalu, and mentally worked out a route about how it could be climbed… it showed me that, even though I was standing on top of the world, it wasn’t the end of everything for me, by any means. I was still looking beyond to other interesting challenges." - Sir Edmund Hillary

Having had a similar vantage point from other Himalayan summits, I can certainly relate to Hillary's famous quote and can certainly relate to his character. No sooner had he achieved one goal, he was already looking to the next one..!

Whilst I must admit, my original goal was not Makalu it has turned out this way due to an unexpected change of events which has closed the border between Nepal and Tibet for the autumn season.  
Having said that, the prospect of attempting this absolutely stunning 8000m peak (just under 400m lower than Everest) is an exciting yet tremendous challenge. Here are some slightly 'dry' climbing stats but I hope to put them into perspective for you over the coming weeks..!

Elevation: 27,765 feet (8,462 meters)
Location: Nepal, Asia
First Ascent: Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray (France), May 15, 1955

Just 22kms / 14 miles east of Everest, Makalu (derived from the Sanskrit Maha Kala, a name for the Hindu god Shiva that translates to "great black") has a distinctive pyramid shape, with its South East and North Western ridges being most prominent. The latter provides the 'normal' route of ascent for the majority of climbers attempting the summit and will be the route that I will follow. The steep summit ridge is on the border between Nepal and Tibet and is one of the most challenging 8000m peaks with steep climbing, exposed ridges, and rock climbing on the summit pyramid.  Only five of the first 16 attempts successfully reached Makalu’s summit.

The French team led by Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray that made the first ascent in 1955 climbed the north face and northeast ridge  and placed nine climbers, including one Sherpa, on the summit.

Though the pyramid shape of the final ascent makes topping Makalu extremely difficult, just over 300 people have since accomplished this feat in the decades since... compared to over 5000 summits of Everest.