Re-measuring Mount Everest

Re-measuring Mount Everest

India should not do it alone and in haste;

it has to be a collaborative effort between Nepal, India and China


Buddhi Narayan Shrestha


Survey of India is re-measuring the height of Mount Everest according to an announcement in Hyderabad during the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the institution. This is the fifth time that the height of Everest will be measured by India since 1852. All the necessary approvals have been obtained from the Ministry of External Affairs of India for the expedition. The matter of re-measurement of Everest was discussed on the sidelines of a meeting of the Geospatial World Forum. However, it was not discussed with the Director General of the Survey Department of Nepal, as he did not attend the conference.

Survey of India is planning to send a 30-member expedition team within two months. The endeavour would take about a month for observation and another 15 days for computation and declaration of data.



History of measurement

When measuring different peaks of the Himalayas in 1852, Sir George Everest, Survey Expert Radhanath Sickdhar, and Nepali Corporal Tejbir Budhathoki found Mount Everest to have the highest peak. It was marked as ‘Peak-XV’. Later it was named by the Royal Geographical Society of London as Mount Everest to honour George Everest, the then Surveyor General of India.

In Nepal, the peak was named Sagarmatha in 1938 after rigorous research by eminent historian Baburam Acharya. ‘Sagar’ denotes the heaven or sky in Sanskrit. ‘Matha’ signifies head or crest. In other words, Sagarmatha means ‘the head reaching up to the sky’. In China, it is called Quomolongma, and in the Tibetan language it is revered as a deity with the name Chopulongma.


Year Country Name Height in meter




1907 India SIR BURRAD, Survey of India 8883.36
1922 India DE GRAFF-HUNTER, Survey of India 8863.85
1954 India B.L GULATEE, Survey of India 8848.00
1975 China WANG WANGCHUK, Chinese Survey Team 8848.13 (±0.35 m)
1987 Italy PROF. A. DESIO, Milan University 8872.00
1993 Italy PROF. A. DESIO, Milan University 8846.00
1999 USA WASHBURN, National Geographic Society 8850.00 (±2 m)
2005 China Y. CHEN , Chen Bangzhu, State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping 8,844.43 (Rock Height ±0.21 m)
2011 Denmark RENE FORSBERG, National Space Institute (DTU) 8,848.90 (Preliminary results ±0.10 m)


Everest has been measured by a number of countries. If we look at the history of measurement, there are variations in different periods. The different measurements made by various institutions are shown in the table above.


Reasons for re-measuring

The earthquake in May 2015 changed the landscape of the region. The main reason for re-measurement is to verify claims expressed by some scientists that Everest shrunk (or grew) after the earthquake. Another reason is to help studies that are looking at the tectonic plate movements in the region. Soon after the earthquake, data from Europe’s Sentinel-1A satellite indicated that the quake may have decreased the height of several mountains, including that of Mount Everest.

John Elliott, a geophysicist at the University of Leeds in England, who has used satellite data to try to measure changes in the mountains, told Tia Ghose at Live Science: “I can’t say one way or the other whether Everest was affected. Because Everest is far away from the epicentre, we cannot conclusively say it went down; it is within the error of our measurement.”

The researchers India is sending this spring will measure the mountain using two methods. One is a survey instrument using the satellite system GPS. The second is the triangulation (ground survey) method, a traditional way to calculate the height from ground for better confirmation.


Nepal is the treasurer of Everest. It is our property and our heritage. We have to determine the height of our property ourselves with modern technology in a way that satisfies the researchers of the world. This is our responsibility.

Some people may ask if Nepal is capable of measuring the height of Everest. The answer is yes. A team of experts should be formed consisting of members from the departments of land survey, mines and geology and hydrology meteorology as well as experts from Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), and the computer association.

We have survey and Geographic Information System (GIS) experts and technicians who can handle a GPS system. They were educated abroad and have worked with GPS technology in other countries as well. They can compute and calculate the scientific height of Everest. The problem is that there is a lack of technical equipment, necessary funding, and a difficult working environment. It is estimated that the scientific expedition would cost approximately US$ 700,000.

The Survey Department had estimated the cost of measurement and submitted its findings. But funding has not been allotted because the expenses were considered ‘unproductive’ compared to the present need of rural development of remote areas.


Hasty observation and calculation

Some researchers believe that one and a half months to re-measure the height of Everest is not sufficient, because it is not enough to measure and simply calculate the figure; one has to determine the earth’s geoid using gravity measurements. An aeroplane has to fly back and forth over the mountain in a series of parallel lines to measure how much gravity affects its peak. This measurement should be done together with GPS observations from satellites. Besides this, vertical of deflection, tectonic motion, and atmospheric corrections should be applied. More time is needed to compare the GPS WGS-84 figure to the traditional triangulation data. So the time span that the Survey of India has allotted might have to be re-evaluated and extended.


When the National Geographic of America measured Everest in 1998, it took nearly two years until the final data was published. Researchers suspect that hastily computed measurement data may not be exact and accurate. If the final data computed is wrong and if it shows the height of Everest is now lower than that of the Mount K-2 (Mt Godwin Austin), what will Nepal’s position be? The outcome is of great concern to Nepal.

With a view to re-measure the height of Everest, it would be practical to collaborate with an equal number of experts of various disciplines from India, Nepal, and China. Nepal has to co-ordinate with India and China because Mount Everest is located on the Nepal-China border, and India was the first country to name the Peak-XV (Everest) as the highest peak in the world.

Nepal has to request India not to haste and measure the height alone. If it is measured through collaboration, the scientific community will be more likely to accept the measurement.



Tunnel Road : Nepal-Japan 60th Anniversary Commemoration Project

Tunnel Road : Nepal-Japan 60th Anniversary Commemoration Project


Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Nepal-Japan diplomatic relation was established in 1956. Notes agreeing to establish diplomatic relation between two countries at Ambassadorial level were exchanged on September 1, 1956 in New Delhi between Mr. Bharat Raj Rajbhandari, Charge d’ Affairs a.i. of Nepal to India and H. E. Seijiro Yoshizawa, Ambassador of Japan to India. Since then formal diplomatic relations between Nepal and Japan have always been co-operative and friendly. It is to be noted that people to people contact as friendship was started when Ekai Kawaguchi, a Japanese Buddhist monk visited Nepal in 1899; and a group of eight Nepali students went to Japan in 1902 for higher studies. Now the relation is becoming closer and strengthened year after year not only in the government level, but also in the level of general people. Both countries are keen to further develop the friendly relations for mutual respect as well as peace and prosperity. This year 2016 is the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relation between Nepal and Japan. The tunnel road project is regarded as the 60th anniversary commemoration project of Japan in Nepal.

Nepal-Japan relation based on mutual trust and cooperation is very cordial. Japan government is ahead for its continuous support to Nepal’s social and economic development endevours. Japan, which is Nepal’s reliable and the major donor partner, has achieved tremendous development in science and technology and has an impressive record in economic development sector. Japan’s assistance to infrastructure development, modernization of agro sector, human resource development, air safety, school reform sector and other socio-economic development programs  in Nepal are always commendable.


Exchange of visits

Diplomatic linkages have connected both countries closer. Many official visits were made from each other to strengthen the diplomatic relations between Nepal and Japan. Some of the exchange visits are as followings :


2016 Former DPM and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa visits Japan.
2016 State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Nobuo Kishi visits Nepal.
2016 Former Prime Minister Jhal Nath Khanal visits Japan.
2016 Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai visits Japan.
2015 State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Minoru Kiuchi visits Nepal.
2015 DPM and Energy Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi visits Japan.
2015 Minister for Finance Ram Sharan Mahat visits Japan.
2015 Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey visits Japan.
2015 Foreign Secretary Mr. Shankar Bairagi visits Japan.
2014 Member of Parliament and Secretary-General of the Japan-Nepal Parliamentary Friendship League Mr. Yosuke Tsuruho visits Nepal.
2014 Parliamentry Vice President for Foreign Affairs Mr. Seiji Kihara visits Nepal.
2014 Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bimalendra Nidhi, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Dipak Chandra Amatya and Minister for Education Chitra Lekha Yadav visits Japan.
2014 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Prakash Man Singh visits Japan.
2013 President Ram Baran Yadav visit Japan for treatment.
2012 Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Koro Bessho visits Nepal.
2012 Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha visits Japan.
2012 Minister for Foreign Affairs Koichiro Gemba visits Nepal
2010 Vice-President of Nepali Congress Ram Chandra Paudel visits Japan
2009 Minister for Finance Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Visits Japan
2009 Vice-Minister for Defence Mr. Nobuo Kishi Visits Nepal
2008 Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Osamu Uno Visits Nepal
2008 Japanese Parliamentarians Tadahiko Ito and Gaku Hashimoto visit Nepal for observation of Constituent Assembly Elections
2007 Senior Vice Minister for Defense Tadahide Kimura Visits Nepal
2007 Chihiro Atsumi, Director-General of Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan visits Nepal
2006 Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhisa Shiozaki visits Nepal
2005 Minister for Finance Mukunda Prasad Rana visits Japan
2005 Home Minister Purna Bahadur Khadka visits Japan
2005 Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Katsuyuki Kawai visits Nepal
2005 TRH Crown Prince Paras and Crown Princess Himani, accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Ramesh Nath Pandey, visit Japan to open Nepal Pavilion in Aichi Expo ’05
2004 Member of House of Representatives and Secretary General of the Japan-Nepal Parliamentary Friendship League Tadahiro Matsushita visits Nepal
2004 Chief of Commission for investigation of Abuse of Authority Surya Nath Upadhaya visits Japan
2004 Chief of Army Staff Pyarjang Thapa visits Japan
2003 Minister for Information and Communication Ramesh Pandey visits Japan
2003 Vice-speaker of the Lower House of Representative Chitra Lekha Yadav visits Japan
2003 Chief judge Kedar Nath Upadhaya visits Japan
2003 Parliamentary Secretary for Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunication, Rokuzaemon Yoshida visits Nepal
2002 Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visits Nepal
2002 Minister of State for Science and Technology Bhakta Bahadur Balayar visits Japan
2002 Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Madhu Raman Acharya visits Japan
2001 Secretary General of the Japan-Nepal Parliamentary Friendship League Wataru Kubo visits Nepal
2001 HRH Crown Prince Dipendra visits Japan
2000 Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori pays an official visit to Nepal
2000 Nepali Parliamentary delegation led by Rt. Hon. Tara Nath Ranabhat, Speaker of the House of Representatives visits Japan
1999 Former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan visited Nepal during HM King Birendra conferred Suprasiddha Prabala Gorkha Dakshin Bahu
1998 Nepali Parliamentary delegation led by Rt. Hon. Beni Bahadur Karki, Chairman of National Assembly, visits Japan
1998 Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala pays an official visit to Japan
1998 Japanese Parliamentary Delegation led by Vice Speaker of the House of Representatives Kozo Watanabe visits Nepal
1997 TIH Prince and Princess Akishino visit Nepal
1995 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Madhav Kumar Nepal pay an official visit to Japan
1995 Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, Minister for Foreign Affairs, visits Japan
1991 Japanese Parliamentary Election Observation Mission, led by Keiwa Okuda, President, Japan-Nepal Parliamentarians’ Friendship League, visits Nepal
1991 Finance Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visits Nepal
1991 Acting President of Nepali Congress Krishna Prasad Bhattarai visits Japan
1990 HRH Crown Prince Dipendra attends the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty Emperor Akihito
1989 HRH Prince Gyanendra attends the Funeral Ceremony of His late Majesty Emperor Hirohito
1987 Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, Minister for Foreign Affairs, pays an official visit to Japan
1987 HIH Crown Prince Naruhito pays a visit to Nepal
1986 TRH Prince Gyanendra and Princess Komal visit Japan to attend the opening ceremony of King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation Japan Chapter
1985 HM King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya visit Japan to attend Tsukuba Expo’85
1985 HIH Princess Chichibu visits Nepal
1983 TM King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya visit Japan
1980 Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Kazuo Aichi visits Nepal
1978 State visit to Japan by Their Majesties King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya
1977 Krishna Raj Aryal, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal visits Japan
1977 Iichiro Hatoyama, Minister for Foreign Affairs, pays an official visit to Nepal
1975 Their Royal Highnesses Prince Gyanendra and Prince Dhirendra visit Japan
1975 Junko Tabei becomes the first woman to scale Sagarmatha
1975 TIH Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko attend the Coronation of His Majesty King Birendra
1974 Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, visits Japan
1970 TM King Mahendra and Queen Ratna visit Japan to attend Osaka Expo’70
1970 TIH Prince and Princess Hitachi attend the Wedding Ceremony of Crown Prince Birendra
1968 Establishment of Japanese Embassy in Kathmandu
1968 Appointment of Hidemichi Kira as the first resident Ambassador to Nepal
1967 HRH Crown Prince Birendra goes to Japan to study at Tokyo University
1965 Establishment of Royal Nepali Embassy in Tokyo
1962 Dr. Iwamura starts medical service at the United Mission Hospital in Patan
1960 Official visit to Nepal by TIH Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko
1960 State visit to Japan by Their Majesties King Mahendra and Queen Ratna
1956 Establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan & Nepal (Exchange of Notes on September 1)
1956 Seijiro Yoshizawa, Ambassador to India, attends the Coronation of HM King Mahendra
1952 Eizaburo Nishibori receives an audience with HM King Tribhuvan
1936 Prof. Syun-ichi Amanuma visits Nepal to inspect buildings after the great earthquake
1933 Kousetsu Nousu, renowned artist for his Buddhist paintings, and Tetsuzo Ide are invited to Nepal by General Keshar Shumsher J.B. Rana
1913 Junjiro Takakusu, Reverend Ekai Kawaguchi and Ryutei Hasebe visit Lumbini and meet Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher J.B. Rana
1912 Bunkyo Aoki enters Nepal on his way to Tibet
1902 Departure of a group of 8 Nepali students for study in Japan
1899 Arrival in Nepal by the first recorded Japanese visitor Reverend Ekai Kawaguchi, a Buddhist monk who stays in Nepal on his way to Tibet

Source: Embassy of Japan in Nepal

Note: Japanese visit (in italics).

Nepal’s all-time friend Japan  

Nepal and Japan are friends during happiness and sorrow. Japan’s immediate humanitarian and emergency services during last year’s earthquake in Nepal, the prompt dispatch of relief and rescue teams and emergency relief material, was a testimony of close friendship between the two countries. Nepal also had provided a token and sentimental help to the Sunami affected Japanese people. JAAN members also contributed some token money through the Ambassador of Japan to Nepal Mr. Tatsuo Mizuno in March 2011. In this respect, both countries and people are all-time friends.


Tunnel road project

Japan government, through the ODA, has assisted to Nepal and the Nepali people especially for the infrastructure development projects. Japan has provided all possible support to the holistic development of Nepal. Construction project of Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel road is one of the latest examples of Nepal-Japan cooperation.

The road conditions of Naubise-Thankot section of the Tribhuvan Highway are very poor and the vehicular movement is slow due to many sharp curves and steep gradient. Considering the complex geological condition of this stretch, the need for its upgradation or realignment with a better alternative had been felt for long. To meet this alternative route felt need, Japan government has recently provided a loan project for the construction of ‘Tunnel Road’ to connect Nagdhunga of Kathmandu to Naubise of Dhading district.


The tunnel road project is regarded as a milestone of Nepal-Japan relations. Japan government considers this project to be a symbolic landmark for the socio-economic development of Nepal and for the deepening relationships between two countries. Japan has many years of experience in developing such tunnel road projects and highly developed tunnel construction technology in Japan. This experience and technology will be used in Nepal in connection to the construction of Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel road project.

According to the Department of Roads; a feasibility study, environment impact assessment and road alignment have already been completed. The tunnel road planned to be dug under the western rim of Kathmandu Valley will eliminate the need to longer travel over the tortuous mountain route which is now the main access to the capital. The construction of tunnel road is expected to reduce travel time between Nagdhunga and Naubise significantly, thereby contributing to smooth flow of transport vehicles between Kathmandu and other major cities of the country like Birganj, Narayangadh, Pokhara and along with the East-West Highway, as the Nagdhunga pass connects Kathmandu to Dhading district.

This tunnel road project assistance was announced during the visit of Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Nobuo Kishi to Nepal in September this year at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and Nepal.

The estimated cost of the tunnel project is 22,14 million Japanese Yen (Rs. 20.41 billion). Of the total project cost, 16,63 million Yen (Rs. 15.33 billion) will be covered by the Japanese government’s official development assistance. Japan government will provide loans to the government of Nepal at an annual interest rate of 0.01 percent with a repayment period of 40 years and an additional 10 years of grace period. Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi and Ambassador of Japan to Nepal Masashi Ogawa signed and exchanged a set of Exchange of Notes on behalf of their respective governments for extending the said loan at an event organised at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) on December 23, 2016.


It will have to construct 5.05 kilometres of tunnel-road that stretches from Baad Bhanjyang Nagdhunga, Kathmandu to Sisnekhola of Naubise, Dhading districts. The 2.45 kilometres of the stretch will be a two-lane tunnel and 2.20 kilometres (Kathmandu side) and 0.40 kilometre (Dhading side) will be approach roads. Similarly, 2.6 kilometers of approach road will also be built to link the tunnel road with the main road section. Two bridges will be built along the approach roads. It is anticipated that this project will significantly improve vehicular movement and, accordingly, reduce travel time and transport expenses for fuel and spare parts will also decrease significantly.


The tunnel road will be started from the terraced area of Nagdhunga Police check-post to lower part of Sisne Khola of Dhading district. This will be the first tunnel road in Nepal for transportation purpose. However, there are some tunnels constructed for the development of hydro-electric power projects and Melamchi tunnel for drinking water purpose.

The tunnel construction work is expected to start from early 2019 after hiring a consultant in 2017. Construction period will take one-and-a-half years to prepare the detailed report of the project and another three-and-a-half years for the construction, which is expected to be completed by August 2022.

Various facilities like fire detector, CCTV Camera, evacuation tunnel door, emergency parking bay, lighting, loud speaker equipment and visibility index meter among other infrastructures, will also be installed in the tunnel for safe operation. Similarly, construction of toll facility, control office and distribution line of 4.1 kilometers are the other components of the project. Plaza area, rest room, restaurant, shops, parking space will also be developed towards Sisnekhola of Dhading, utilizing a flat land made by disposal of tunnel excavation materials.


4- Old and New Route Photo

A preparatory survey report of the project prepared in 2015 has suggested a toll rate of Rs. 25 for light vehicle and Rs. 35 for heavy vehicle for tunnel operation and maintenance. According to the report, about 90 percent of passenger car users have revealed that they are willing to pay a toll fee to use the tunnel road.


In summary, the tunnel will facilitate the followings :

  1. It will have easy and smooth entry and exit to and from Kathmandu Valley to other parts of the country.
  2. The vehicles will consume less petroleum products to reach to Kathmandu capital city.
  3. Transport vehicles will have life longevity; so that the driver, owner of the vehicle and the government will be benefitted.
  4. The districts will enjoy comfortable access and fast contact with the capital city Kathmandu.

There is a large hope to obtain more and and more support from Japan to Nepal in the days to come as well. In this aspect, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will explore future programs in Nepal and conduct feasibility studies of the possible projects which will be implemented for the economic development of Nepal and the Nepali people.


My Republica Daily, December 21, 2016

Himalayan Times Daily, December 22, 2016…/000213840.pd..…/nagdhun..






Four Sided Pyramid Mount Makalu


Four Sided Pyramid Mount Makalu


  Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Border Researcher and

Advisor to Nepal Mountaineering Association

Nepal is naturally a beautiful Himalayan country. Himalaya is the King of Mountains. It is regarded as the most beautiful part of the earth. Nepal has tall mountains, more than any other regions of the planet.

Nepal has a diverse elevation from 57 meter to 8848 meters above mean sea level, as it is physically constructed with Himal, Mountain and Plain areas. If someone drives 120 Kilometer south to north for ten hours, he could experience from sub-tropical summer climate to cold tundra type. Fourteen mountain peaks, higher than 8,000 meter falls on Nepali territory. And Mount Makalu is one of them, which is located on the border between Nepal and Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China.

Makalu is one of the eight-thousanders. It is an isolated peak whose shape is a four-sided pyramid. It’s geographical co-ordinate is 27°53′23″ North Latitude and 87°05′20″ East Longitude, located at the height of 8,463 meter above mean sea level.

Mountains of Nepal

There are in total 1,310 mountain peaks over 5,000 meters high in Nepal as identified till this date. Among them 246 peaks have been located in western segment, 567 in central and 497 peaks in eastern segment.[1] According to the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Tourism, 414 mountain peaks have been opened for climbing expedition. Mountaineers have stepped on the top of 185 mountain peaks till this date. And there are still 229 mountain peaks to be conquered by human being.



Total number of summiteers to Mount Makalu are 434 till December 2014. Among the successful summiteers, 82 are from Nepal, 20 from Japan and the rest from other countries of the world.[2]


Mountaineering in 2016

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Tourism, 614 expeditioneers and mountaineers from 40 countries of the world, including Nepal, climbed successfully 23 mountain peaks during 2016 Spring season. Among them, 55 persons were the women and the rest 559 have been the male expeditioneers. Those 614 people who reached at the top of 23 mountains, of them 307 were the Nepalese and the rest 307 people have been the foreigners.


Actually, 746 expeditioneers had obtained permission to climb various mountains in this Spring season of 2016. But only 614 expeditioneers obtained the certificate of success. Among them, 40 mountaineers were successful to reach at the top of Makalu.[3]

While climbing Makalu, Da Tenji Sherpa of Jubing-1 of Solukhumbu District and Lakpa Wangel Sherpa from Makalu-5 of Sankhuwasabha District died at Camp II (6,700 m) after they complained of altitude sickness on the morning of 10 May 2016.  They were part of an 11-member Amical Alpine Makalu Expedition-2016, locally managed by Thamserku Treks. The Sherpa duo died on the way to Camp-II, fellow climbers descended them after complaining of altitude sickness, as mentioned by Radha Sharma Bhattarai, Liaison Officer stationed in the region.[4]

Identity of Mount Makalu

Mount Makalu is located in the Mahalangur Himalayan Range, 14 km south-east of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and China. In local Limbu language this mountain is named as ‘Makalungma.’  In China, it is officially called as ‘Makaru.’

Makalu is the world’s fifth highest peak in the world rising to 8463 meters above mean sea level. This beautiful and impressive massive is situated east of Everest in the Khumbu region. Its size alone is impressive, but its perfect pyramidical structure with four sharp ridges makes this mountain all the more spectacular. However, Makalu is actually a double peak. The subsidiary peak rising just north of the main summit connected by a saddle is called Chomo Lonzo (7818m). It is interesting to note that the summit ridge is the demarcation point indicating the border between Nepal on the Southern side and Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China to the North.



The name of the mountain ‘Makalu’ was probably derived from the Sanskrit word Maha-Kala, which means ‘Big Black’ or Great Bleak’ or ‘The Giant’ and is a by name of Shiva– one of the most important gods of Hinduism that translates ‘Big Black.’ 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- ‘Kumbha Karna’ which means ‘The Giant.’ Originally, Mount Makalu was registered as ‘Peak-XIII’ by Survey of India in 1849 AD.

Makalu has two notable subsidiary peaks. Kangchungtse, or Makalu-II (7678 m) lies about 3 km north-northwest of the main summit. Rising about 5 km north-northeast of the main summit across a broad plateau, and connected to Kangchungtse by a narrow, 7200 meter saddle, is Chomo Lonzo (7818 m). The summit ridge is the border between Nepal and Tibet.

Makalu is one of the harder eight-thousanders and is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb. The mountain is notorious for its steep pitches and knife-edged ridges. The final ascent of the summit pyramid needs technical rock climbing or ice climbing. Mount Makalu is a little bit dangerous as well. First five attempts were made before climbing this Makalu then only it was succeeded at the final.

Caravan route

The journey begins with a flight into Katmandu. From Kathmandu, it should catch a small plane to the small town of Tumlingtar in the north-east Nepal. From there it begins a trek along the Arun River to Khandbari. From Khandbari(1036meter), the real trekking starts  to Manybhanjyang (1100 m)- Chichila (1700m)-Num (1600m)- Seduwa (1560m)- Tashi Gaun. Then it needs one day rest for acclimatization overnight. After rest, climbing starts from Tashi Gaun to Khongba-La (3760m)- Dobato (3700m)-Nebe Kharka (4320m)- Sherson (4630m)-Makalu base camp (4870m) to higher camp-2 (5160m). And then it needs near about 33 days period for climbing and descending. After descending, it may need one day for camp cleaning. Then the return starts from higher camp to Yak Kharka-Mumbuk-Tashi Gaon-Num-Chichira and Tumlingtar. It may need overnight rest at Tumlingtar. Finally, air flight should be taken to Kathmandu from Tumlingtrar air-field. Generally, it should have one day rest in Kathmandu and farewell Diner. And then one could transfer to International Airport and fly home. In such a way, it takes approximately 75 days round trip expedition period to climb on the top of Mount Makalu. The length of caravan route is 93.7 kilometer through Tumlingtar.


Climbing route

From the base camp, the climbing route can be divided into four parts. The bottom part begins at the base of the West Face at 5800 meters and limbs to the hanging ice-fall at 6100 meters to the right of ice-fall. The second part extends from the plateau above the ice-fall along 35 to 45 degree rock up to the bergshrund at 6500 meters. The next section is an ice-rock wall, 50 to 55 degrees steep, that extends to 7400 meters. The final part begins with a 70 to 75 degree rock pillar that leads to the West ridge at 8000 meters, and on to the summit (8463 m). The climbing route is 5.8 kilometer long.
Successful ascent

The French association with Makalu dates back to 1934 when they had been first permitted and later cancelled to climb the mountain. Their 1955 Makalu Expedition was the follow-up of their previous year’s successful reconnaissance. After leaving Base Camp on April 23, oxygen was used both on the march and and in camp above 6969 meters. Six days later, Camp-V was located beyond the col and weather remained fine. The first summit party of Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray established a subsidiary camp at about 7752 m and on 15 May 1955, trode upon the fragile cone of snow that forms the summit of Makalu. The ascent was repeated the following two days during which all the nine members of the assault party reached the summit ![5]

In this aspect, Makalu was first successfully climbed by Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray of a French expedition led by Jean Franco via the west face on 15 May 1955. Franco and G. Magnone summitted the next day, followed by Bouvier, S. Coupe, Leroux and A. Vialatte on the 17th May. This was an amazing achievement at the time to have the vast majority of expedition members summitted, especially on such a difficult peak.

However, the first attempt to climb on Makalu was made by an American team led by William Siri in the spring of 1954. The expedition was composed of Sierra Club members including Allen Steck, and was called the California Himalayan Expedition to Makalu. This was the first American mountaineering expedition to the Himalaya. They attempted the southeast ridge, but were turned back at 7100m 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. Prior to Makalu’s first ascent in 1955, it was admired and studied by several Everest expeditions, but liked a lot to other giants in the Khumbu region. So Makalu was not attempted until the summit of Everest was first ascended in 1953.

Ang Chepal Sherpa is the first Nepali to climb Mount Makalu on 1 May 1978.[6] Among the women, Catherine Calhoun (USA) is the first lady to summit Makalu when she climbed the mountain on 18 May 1990. Labert Schaver (Austrian) is the first to solo ascent on 25 April 1981. Marjan Manfreda (former Yugoslavian) is the first person to reach the summit without using oxygen, on 6 October 1975.

Neighbourhood of Makalu

Makalu is a close neighbor of Mount Everest, lying in the northeast region of Nepal. Besides, the Makalu Barun National Park in the region offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the Himalayas. This region is blessed with an incredible diversity of natural beauty and culture.

Gurung, Rai and Sherpa are the main habitants in this region. Settlements of Rai, Sherpa, and Shingsawa (Bhotia) are farmers. Though economically poor and isolated, they retain a rich cultural heritage. They hold the key to the preservation of the unique biological and cultural treasures of the Makalu Barun area.

Makalu-Barun Valley is a Himalayan glacier valley situated at the base of Mt. Makalu in the Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal. This valley lies entirely inside the Makalu Barun National Park. The park of 2330 sq km is bordered by the Arun River in the east and the Sagarmatha National Park in the west. Barun Valley is a sanctuary for wild animals such as wolves, lynx, fox, falcon, red panda, musk deer, wild boar and the elusive snow leopard. Recognized for its tremendous diversity of plants, animals and people, the area contains 25 species of rhododendrons, 47 types of orchids, and 56 rare or endangered plants.[7] Barun Valley provides stunning contrasts, where high waterfalls cascade into deep gorges, craggy rocks rise from lush green forests, and colorful flowers bloom beneath white snow peaks. This unique landscape shelters some of the last pristine mountain ecosystems on earth. Rare species of animals and plants flourish in diverse climates and habitats, relatively undisturbed by human kind.

Makalu region, rich for natural paradise, includes beautiful mountains. The grand vistas include views of Mt. Makalu, Mt. Chamlang (7319m), Mt. Baruntse (7129m), Mera Peak (6654m) and other Nepal known peaks.



Administratively, Mount Makalu is located in Eastern Development Region, Sankhuwasabha District at Makalu Village Development Committee (VDC). Nearest settlement is Sadema, 41 kilometer far from the base camp. In the same way, the distance of nearest health post from the base camp is 48 km at Murmi Danda. Mountaineering  royalty fee for the Nepali expeditioneers is Rs. 10000 in Spring, 5000 in Autumn and 2500 in Winter season. For the foreigners, the royalty rate is US$ 1,800 in Spring, 900 in Autumn and 450 in Winter season.

Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) with the collaboration of Government of Nepal, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation was almost ready to observe the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the first accent of Mount Makalu targeted to 15 May 2015. But it was not materialized, as there occurred a Great Earthquake having 7.9 Richter Scale in Nepal on 25 April 2015. Almost nine thousand people were killed. Near about five hundred thousand houses and buildings had been collapsed, and more than two hundred fifty thousand constructions have been partially damaged.

Eighteen mountaineers (4 foreigners and 14 Nepalis) were killed when a massive avalanche triggered by the devastating earthquake that struck Mt. Everest as well. The avalanche from the Pumori side buried the base camp where more than 500 climbers and over 600 support staff and guides were staying for acclimatisation in their camps. 61 expeditioneers had been injured due to sliding of glacier by the earthquake tremour on and around the base camp of Mount Everest.  30 injured climbers were being treated by doctors near the base camp.[8] Due to this earthquake disaster, the diamond jubilee celebration function of Mount Makalu was postponed. Now the function is going to be organised in mid-November 2016. Let us celebrate Mount Makalu Diamond Jubilee function in a great manner with grand success; so that it could attract the mountaineers and expeditioneers of all over the world for the development and expansion of mountain tourism of Nepal.

End Note:   

[1] Harka Gurung (August 2004), Peaks and Pinnacles Mountaineering in Nepal, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Nagpokhari, Naxal,  Kathmandu, Nepal: page 2 with a map.

[2] Mountaineering in Nepal Facts & Figures (June 2013), Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation, Tourism Industry Division, Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu: page 142-52.

[3] Kantipur Daily, 14 July 2016

[4] The Himalayan Times Daily, 11 May 2016

[5] Harka Gurung (August 2004), Peaks and Pinnacles Mountaineering in Nepal, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Nagpokhari, Naxal, Kathmandu, Nepal: page 26-27.

[6] Mountaineering in Nepal Facts & Figures (June 2013), Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation, Tourism Industry Division, Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu: page 141.

[7] Weekly Mirror (Magnificence of Makalu), 19 February 2016

[8] Himalayan Times Daily, 26 April 2015

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