Asia, Nepal, Khumbu Region, Mahalangur East: Makalu Section, Makalu, Southeast Ridge Integral Attempt

Publication Year: 2005.

Makalu, southeast ridge integral attempt. In spring a 14-member British Services expedition hoped to climb the south east ridge integral and arriving at the usual 4,700m base camp on April 8, first investigated the south east glacier approach. However, recession had made reaching the first ice fall too dangerous and they opted for the longer route over the lower continuation of the ridge, which bends south and runs down the east side of the Barun Valley opposite base camp. This was first pioneered by Doug Scott on his three major attempts at an Alpine style traverse of Makalu in the early 1980s and involves crossing Peak 6,260m and then Peak 6,825m before a long and almost horizontal snow arete leads to the South Col.

The team placed Camp 1 at 5,700m, from where they pushed out the route to the crest of the ridge at ca 6,100m, the last 200m fixed with rope. An intermediate camp was established at ca 6,100m on the far side of the first peak, while the team, with a little Sherpa support, fixed more rope above. Snowfall either hampered or completely curtailed progress toward 6,825m during the entire latter part of April and it wasn’t until May 7 that Camp 2 was established close to the South Col and ca 200m below the summit of 6,825m. By the 10th, ropes had been fixed to 7,100m.

Strong winds then made progress difficult but on the 15th Camp 3 was placed at 7,300m. The next few days saw more rope fixed up the 45°-50° ridge leading to the Black Gendarme but around the 20th there was snowfall, burying the ropes. Although acclimatized and poised for a summit attempt, time was running out and as conditions now seemed relatively unstable, the team members made the decision to abandon the route on the 24th, having reached a high point of ca 7,500m.

Colin Scott, United Kingdom