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Makalu - history

Makalu (8463m) is the fifth highest mountain in the world.

The combined team of Kazakhstan within the framework of the project of ascending on the all tops higher than 8000m is going to climb the fifth summit of the planet - Makalu via Parago route (Western ridge) this spring.

Some data about the Makalu:

Other names/spellings: Makalufeng. The name of the mountain was probably taken from the Sanskrit word Maha-Kala, which means Big Black and is a by-name of Shiva - one of the most important gods of Hinduism. Shiva is sometimes an evil, cruel destroyer but at other times he tends to be gentle and kind-hearted. The mountain has another name in the local dialect - Kumba karna, which means The Giant.

Elevation (meters) 8,462, (feet) 27,765

Location: Khumbu Region, Himalaya, The summit ridge is the demarcation point indicating the border between Nepal on the Southern side and Tibet to the North.

Latitude 27º 53' N

Longitude 87º 05' E

Best Climbing Months: April, May (pre-monsoon), Late September, October (post-monsoon)

First Ascent: J. Franco's French Expedition, the climbers Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray, 1955

Convenient Center(s): Hille, Nepal via Dharan Bazar

Nearest Major Airport: Kathmandu, Nepal

Makalu is an isolated peak, located just 14 miles east of Mount Everest (8848 m.). Its size alone is impressive, but its perfect pyramid structure with four sharp ridges makes this mountain all the more dramatic.

It has proved to be a challenging climb, as only five of its first sixteen attempts were successful. Previously, it was admired and studied by several Everest expeditions, but like a lot of other giants in the Khumbu region, it was not attempted until the summit of Everest was first ascended in 1954.

Chomo Lonzo (25 650 ft.) is a subsidiary peak of Makalu, rising just north of the higher summit, separated by a narrow saddle.

Nelson Chenkin

Nelson Chenkin



History of Makalu ascents:

1849 Peak with number XIII registered by Indian Topographical expedition.

1921 Topographical expedition leaded by Howard Burey made the description of the Makalu region and made pictures of the summit.

1951 The group of Britain Everest Committee leaded by Eric Shenton located the routes via the Makalu South face.

1954 First attempts of ascents: American mountaineers leaded by W. Seyra climbed up to 7100 m via the Southern ridge. Britain mountaineers reached 6 500 m in the direction to the North col. French mountaineers reached North-East summit of Makalu 7600 m.

1955 May of 15 Jan Cusi and Leonel Terrey summitted Makalu via the North col.

1961 Britain expedition reached 8350 m via the North col.

1970 Japanese mountaineers Ch. Takanaka and I. Otsaki climbed South-East ridge of Makalu.

1971 West ridge was climbed. Members of French expedition J. Senior and B. Millet summited the top (leader of the expedition - R. Parago).

1972 Attempt of ascent via South-West Wall (Yugoslavian team climbed up to 7950 m).

1973 Makalu, South face was climbed. (Czech expedition, leaded by Ivan Galfi).

1976 Makalu, South-West face was climbed via the buttress (Czech expedition, leaded by Ivan Galfi). The climbers reached the top: M. Krissak , K. Shubert and Spaniard J. Kamprubi.

1981 Attempt of ascending via the Southern-East face (Italian - Swiss expedition).

1981 (spring) First attempt to climb the Makalu, West Face. Two men team of Polish climber Woyzek Kurtuka and English climber A. Macintur reached 6 800 m.

1981 (autumn) Second attempt - West Face: D. Kukuchka, W. Kurtuka and A. Macintur got acclimatization climbing the north col (8000 m), went on West face and reached 7600 m.

1981 (autumn) After the unsuccessful attempt to climb West face Kukuchka successfully soloed North-West buttress.

1982 (autumn) The third attempt of climb the West face. Swiss expedition of R. Nattarice tried to climb West ridge (up to 7400 m), then they went to West face and climbed up to 7700 m toward the North buttress.

1983 West ridge. Australia - Kiwi expedition climbed up to 8300 m.

1984 (spring) West ridge. American-Canadian expedition climbed up to 8300 m.

1984 (autumn) R. Nattarice tried again to climb the North-West buttress via Polish route and reached the top on 29th of September via the classical route.

1989 (spring) Spain expedition climbed the West ridge (Parago route) and on 8th of May reached 8350 m. They did not manage to summit the top).

1990 (spring) For the first time a woman climbed the West ridge as a member of American expedition, via one of the most difficult routes up to 8000 m. Kitty Kalon-Griss and Jott Chat reached the summit on 18th of May, from the altitude of 7800 m.

1991 Two men team (E. Loretan and D. Trollet) climbed the West ridge. They left the base camp (5300 m) on 1st of October, had a bivi in the Spain camp at the altitude of 7400 m and on October 2nd reached the summit.

1992 Fourth attempt of climbing the Makalu, West face. A britain expedition leaded by N. Masson. They reached 7000 m.

1993 Fifth attempt - Makalu, West face. A famous rockclimber Katrin Destivall and E. Decamp and American mountaineer D. Low tried to ascend first via the North-West buttress then after the unsuccessful attempt went on the West face. D. Low climbed up to 7000 m. French two men team climbed via the West ridge up to 7600 m.

1996 Sixth attempt - Makalu, West face. Mountain team from Novokuznetsk city after their ascending Makalu via the classical route.

1997 (spring) The West face was successfully summited! The Russian expedition to the West Face of Makalu, leaded by Sergey Efimov climbed the top on 21st of May via the most difficult route. The last part of the route went on Parago ridge. Climbed to the top: Alexei Bolotov, Yuri Ermachek, Dmitri Pavlenko, Igor Bugachevski and Nikolai Jiline. For this ascent they were awarded the "Gold ice-axe". Salavat Khabiboulline - the head of the team, went up to 8200m and not having reach the top died after spending night at the final camp. Andrei Klepikov reached 7300m. Serguei Efimov - the leader of expedition reached 6800m. Serguei Bychkovski - doctor of expedition reached 5800m. Andrei Bel'kov reached 6800m. The coach Alexander Mikhailov reached 6500m. Igor Bugachevski perished by a stroke of a stone in the temple on back route not descending up to 6500m. All participants come from Ekaterinburg city.

2000-2001 Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the Polish Winter Expedition to Makalu with the members: Roman Mazik (physician), Maciej Pawlikowski, Krzysztof Liszewski, Andrzej Samolewicz, Piotr Snopczynski, Jaroslaw Zurawski, Dariusz Zaluski, Jerzy Natkanski and Gia Tortladze from Georgia, officially announced the retreat and the end of the expedition. Very bad conditions did not give the climbers the slightest hance.

2001 The Adventure Consultants Makalu Expedition 2001 achieved success on the world's fifth highest Peak, Mount Makalu (8463m). Expedition leader Guy Cotter (New Zealand) and team members Takashi Ozaki (Japan) and Lhakpa Dorje (Nepal), along with two members of a Chilean Expedition reached the summit via the first ascent route, the 'Classic' Route, which was first climbed on the 15th of May 1955 by a French team led by Jean Franco. Lhakpa Dorje was the first climber in history to summit Makalu twice.

2001 A team of professional 10 Italian UIAGM Alpine Mountain Guides Dolomites (S. Martino di Castrozza), named The Eagel of San Martino, led by expert Renzo Corona summited Makalu via the classical route on 14th of May to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first expedition.

2001 Chilean Makalu Expedition, leader Mr. Carlos Bascou from Chile successfully climbed the Summit via North W. Ridge on 12th May 2001.

2001 "O O" Naturfreunde (Austria group) Makalu Expedition: Normal Route, Mr. Hermann Trippocher the leader with 10 members

2001 Asturias (Spanish group) Makalu Expedition, North W. Ridge, Mr. Eloy Sanchez Gonzalez, leader with 8 members.

2001 Iranian Makalu Expedition of 16 members and with the leadership of Mr. Sadegh Aghajani. Eight Iranian Climbers and two Sherpa could successfully reach the summit on 13th of May. This is the first Iranian Expedition who tried to climb the fifth highest peak of the world.

2001 Lesachtaler Makalu-expedition, another Austrian expedition from Carinthia (8 members) led by Helmut Orntner. 4 more Austrians reached the Summit of Makalu, one climber Erich Resch was lost right before the final attempt.

2002 International Expedition led by Piotr Pustelnik. Three climbers of the team Piotr Pustelnik, Martin Gablik and Gonzalo Velez reached Makalu summit on 16 of May. Mr. Raymond David Caughron (1943), Energy Management Consultant from Berkeley, CA, USA was found dead by two member of Swiss Expedition on 26th April 2002 at the altitude of 7200 meters (Makalu La). Due to bad weather Mr. Caughron was forced to bivouac on 25th April 2002 at Makalu La (7200m). The leader of the team Piotr Pustelnik and other two members of the team managed to reach the site only on 28th of April 2002. They buried Mr. Caughron at the same spot where his body was found.

2002 Spanish-Italian team with Swiss climbers Norbert Joss and Kobi Reichen reached the summit of Makalu on 16th of May.

2002 A team included Carlos Pauner, Edurne Pasaban, Silvio Mondinelli and Mario Merelli reached the summit of Makalu on 16th May.

2002 The second Spanish expedition leaded by famous climber Juan Oiarzabal attempted the very hard West Pillar route on Makalu in the spring via a very difficult route opened in 1971 by the French climbers Robert Paragot and Yannick Seigneur and have a very limited number of repetitions. The members were: Juanito Oiarzabal, Juan Vallejo, Ferran Latorre, Jose Carlos Tamayo, Josu Bereciartua. But they reached the Camp III (7350m) and had to go back home without the summit because of the very bad weather during the whole expedition.

2003 - The Chinese team leaded by Mr. Mr. Sam Drup was attempting to summit Makalu in Spring 2003 with the help of Sherpas from Nepal. The expedition failed to summit Makalu in Autumn 1996. Last summer they attempted K2 and failed along with the rest of the climbers. In 2001, they summited the fore summit or rocky summit of Broad Peak, but apparently did not go to the main summit. The Following 4 members of the "China-Tibet-14 Peaks Over 8000m. Expedition" team successfully climbed the summit on 14th of May. Name of the Summiteers: Tsering Dorje, Rinar, Banba Drashi, Akebu.

2003 Swiss Murmeli expedition 2003

The planned expeditions in 2004:

British Services Makalu Expedition 2004 via South East Ridge in March 2004

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