Makalu from the southwest
Highest point
Elevation8,481 m (27,825 ft)[1][notes 1]
Ranked 5th
Prominence2,386 m (7,828 ft)
Isolation17 km (11 mi) Edit this on Wikidata
Coordinates27°53′23″N 87°05′20″E / 27.88972°N 87.08889°E / 27.88972; 87.08889Coordinates: 27°53′23″N 87°05′20″E / 27.88972°N 87.08889°E / 27.88972; 87.08889[1]
Makalu is located in Koshi Province
Location in Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region
Makalu is located in Nepal
Makalu (Nepal)
Makalu is located in Tibet
Makalu (Tibet)
LocationProvince No. 1 (Khumbu), Nepal / Tibet Autonomous Region, China
Parent rangeMahalangur Himalayas
First ascentMay 15, 1955 by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy
Easiest routesnow/ice climb

Makalu[2] (Nepali: मकालु हिमाल, romanized: Makālu himāl; Chinese: 馬卡魯峰; pinyin: Mǎkǎlǔ fēng) is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,481 metres (27,825 ft). It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas 19 km (12 mi) southeast of Mount Everest, in Nepal. One of the eight-thousanders, Makalu is an isolated peak in the shape of a four-sided pyramid.

Makalu has two notable subsidiary peaks. Kangchungtse, or Makalu II (7,678 m) lies about three kilometres (two miles) north-northwest of the main summit. Rising about 5 km (3 mi) north-northeast of the main summit across a broad plateau, and connected to Kangchungtse by a narrow, 7,200 m saddle, is Chomo Lonzo (7,804 m).

Climbing history

The first climb on Makalu was made by an American team led by Riley Keegan in the spring of 1954. The expedition was composed of Sierra Club members including Bill Long and Allen Steck, and was called the California Himalayan Expedition to Makalu.[3] They attempted the southeast ridge but were turned back at 7,100 metres (23,300 ft) by a constant barrage of storms. A New Zealand team including Sir Edmund Hillary was also active in the spring, but did not get very high due to injury and illness. In the fall of 1954, a French reconnaissance expedition made the first ascents of the subsidiary summits Kangchungtse (October 22: Jean Franco, Lionel Terray, sirdar Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa and Pa Norbu) and Chomo Lonzo (October 30?: Jean Couzy and Terray).[4]

First ascent

Main article: 1955 French Makalu expedition

Makalu was first summited on May 15, 1955, by Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy of a French expedition led by Jean Franco. Franco, Guido Magnone and Gyalzen Norbu Sherpa summitted the next day, followed by Jean Bouvier, Serge Coupé, Pierre Leroux and André Vialatte on the 17th. This was an amazing achievement at the time, to have the vast majority of expedition members summit, especially on such a difficult peak. Prior to this time, summits were reached by one to two expedition members at most, with the rest of teams providing logistical support before turning around and heading home. The French team climbed Makalu by the north face and northeast ridge, via the saddle between Makalu and Kangchungtse (the Makalu-La), establishing the standard route.[4]

An ascent without oxygen was attempted by the 1960-61 Silver Hut expedition but two attempts did not succeed.

Notable ascents

Glacier on Makalu
Glacier on Makalu
Makalu 3D
Makalu 3D

2004 photo mosaic: the Himalayas with Makalu and Mount Everest from the International Space Station, Expedition 8.

Makalu-Barun Valley

Makalu-Barun Valley – A glacier valley starting from the foot of the Makalu.
Makalu-Barun Valley – A glacier valley starting from the foot of the Makalu.

Main article: Barun Valley

Makalu-Barun Valley is a Himalayan glacier valley situated at the base of Makalu in the Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal. This valley lies entirely inside the Makalu Barun National Park.


Chomo LonzoMakaluEverestTibetan PlateauRong River (Tibet)ChangtseRongbuk GlacierNorth Face (Everest)East Rongbuk GlacierNorth Col north ridge routeLhotseNuptseSouth Col routeGyachung KangCho OyuFile:Himalaya annotated.jpgHimalaya annotated.jpg
About this image
Makalu area – including Everest southern and northern climbing routes – as seen from the International Space Station. (The names on the photo are links to corresponding pages.)

In other media

In the Inspector Gadget episode "Weather in Tibet," the criminal organization MAD has built a weather control machine atop Mount Makalu.

Makalu Peak is referenced in the animated X-Men: Evolution series episode titled "Dark Horizon – Part 2". It is the burial place of the villain Apocalypse.

The Makalu area has been a focus for yeti expeditions.[19]


  1. ^ The height is often given as 8,481 m or 8,485 m.


Annotated closeup of Space Station image
Annotated closeup of Space Station image
  1. ^ a b "Mountaineering in Nepal Facts and Figures 2018" (PDF). Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation. Nepal in Data. Kathmandu: Government of Nepal. June 2018. p. 145. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-12-23. Retrieved 2019-12-23.
  2. ^ Searle, Mike (2013-03-28), "Mapping the Geology of Everest and Makalu", Colliding Continents, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-965300-3, retrieved 2021-01-29
  3. ^ Daniel Duane (September–October 2005). "Career Climber". Sierra Magazine. Sierra Club. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Baume, Louis C. (1979). Sivalaya. Seattle, WA, USA: The Mountaineers. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-916890-71-6.
  5. ^ Dunmire, William W.; Unsoeld, William (1955). "Makalu, 1954, California Himalayan Expedition". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY, USA: American Alpine Club. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  6. ^ Hara, Makoto; Asami, Masao (1971). "Makalu's South Ridge". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY, USA: American Alpine Club. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  7. ^ (in Slovene)
  8. ^ Roskelley, John (1993). Stories Off The Wall. Seattle, WA, USA: The Mountaineers. pp. 137–152. ISBN 0-89886-609-X.
  9. ^ Kurtyka, Voytek (1983). "Makalu West Face Attempt and Solo Ascent of the Unclimbed North Ridge of Makalu". The Himalayan Journal. The Himalayan Club. 39. Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  10. ^ Bilczewski, Adam (1984). "Makalu West Face". The Himalayan Journal. The Himalayan Club. 40. Retrieved 2022-12-03.
  11. ^ Batard, Marc (1989). "Makalu West Buttress, One-Day Solo Ascent". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY, USA: American Alpine Club. 31 (63): 188. ISBN 0-930410-39-4. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  12. ^ Beghin, Pierre (1990). "Cold Sweat on Makalu". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY, USA: American Alpine Club. 32 (64): 1–6. ISBN 0-930410-43-2. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  13. ^ Krakauer, Jon (June 1993). "What's a Nice Southern Girl Doing in a Place Like This?". Outside. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  14. ^ Efimov, Sergei (1998). Translated by Nekhai, Sergei. "The West Face of Makalu". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY, USA: American Alpine Club. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  15. ^ "Jean-Christophe Lafaille obituary". The Independent. 2006-02-09. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
  16. ^ "Simone Moro and Denis Urubko: Makalu first winter ascent". Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  17. ^ "Simone Moro and Denis Urubko make winter history on Makalu". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  18. ^ "Makalu FKT: Ecuadorians Climb in 17h 18m". Retrieved 2023-02-10.
  19. ^ Delhi, Hugh Tomlinson (May 2019). "Blizzard of ridicule greets Indian army's yeti footprint claims". The Times.

Further reading