Makalu, Nepal

Altitude Junkies offer one of the most cost-effective full-service expeditions on Makalu.

We don't advertise an expedition price and then ask for additional payments at the conclusion of the expedition such as Sherpa summit bonus and kitchen staff gratuities as some of the other operators do. The price you pay the Junkies is the final price.

Our expedition is limited to eight climbers and one expedition leader with a 1:1 Sherpa to climber ratio. Some of the other operators have as many as twenty climbers on one expedition and we feel a smaller team makes for a more intimate and satisfying experience for a climber on Makalu.

The single leader/expedition manager offers similar expertise as a fully guided climb with a 4:1 climber to guide ratio. Having a 1:1 climbing Sherpa to climber ratio allows each climber a flexible schedule to travel with their own personal Sherpa during acclimatization rotations.



Himalayan veteran expedition organizer Phil Crampton who has multiple summits on 8,000-meter peaks will lead the 2019 expedition and this will be his forty-fifth plus 8,000-meter expedition.

In addition to an experienced leader, the teams head climbing Sherpa Sirdar will be Pasang Ongcho Sherpa who holds the coveted UIAGM guide certification. Pasang has vast experience being a Sirdar on Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Manaslu and will be directing our climbing Sherpas who have all summitted 8,000-meter peaks before, some multiple times, and their knowledge of the mountains of Nepal is unrivaled.



We utilize helicopters from Kathmandu flying directly to Yangla Kharka. At the conclusion of the expedition we will fly directly from Advanced Base Camp to Lukla and then onto Kathmandu. The Lukla fixed-wing flights are very weather dependent and we believe helicopters are a safer option.


Trek to Base Camp

Our expedition will meet in the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu where we will stay in the beautiful Hotel Tibet located in a quiet diplomat area of Lazimpat, close to the tourist district of Thamel. After a few days in Kathmandu, we fly by private helicopters to Yangla Kharka where we spend two evenings for cautious acclimatization. From Yangla Kharka, we trek to Lamgmale, before completing the tresk to base camp the next day. After spending several evenings at base camp for cautious acclimatization we will make the short walk to Advanced Base Camp that lies at an elevation of 5,600 meters.


Base Camp

Our base camp is as luxurious, if not more so than some of the other more expensive operators operating in Nepal and the food prepared by our highly experienced cooks is considered some of the best available in the Himalayas.

Each climber is provided with a personal Mountain Hardwear 3-person tent at base camp, which is insulated with a foam floor covering and complimented with an extra thick foam mattress.

We make it a policy at Altitude Junkies to remove all human waste from base camp and have porters carry our toilet drums to a lower village where it can be disposed of properly.


The Kitchen

The head and assistant cooks have all been trained by western chefs in food preparation and strict hygiene standards and produce a varied and nutritious western menu throughout the expedition. They prepare three delicious hot meals a day as well as preparing an amazing array of appetizers for our customary early evening cocktail hour during rest days at base camp. We use local fresh produce and meats and these are complimented by a huge selection of imported foods and snacks.


Climb Strategy

We follow a cautious acclimatization schedule at Base Camp spending three to four nights there before walking to Advanced Base Camp. We will utilize four camps on the mountain and use Camp One and Camp Two for acclimatization purposes with us making a climb to 7,000 meters before descending to Advanced Base Camp in anticipation of a summit attempt. Our summit push will see us climb directly to Camp Two and use Camp Three on the Makalu La. We will place a high Camp Four to enable us a shorter summit day.


The Route

From Base Camp we make the short walk to Advanced Base Camp. This is our main camp for the duration of the expedition and is located on a rocky dome at 5,600 meters. From Advanced Base Camp we climb a rocky moraine and then enter onto a gentle angled glacier. We climb a steep ice and snow wall with fixed ropes in place just before reaching Camp One located at an elevation of 6,300 meters. The route from Camp One sees us climb over an easy broad glacier to the site of Camp Two located at an elevation of 6,600 meters. The climb to Camp Three is long and steep and takes us to the Makalu La at an elevation of 7,500 meters. This is the hardest part of the climb. We make an easy traverse to Camp Four at 7,800 meters which allows us to make a shorter summit day. From Camp Four we climb moderate glacial slopes to the French Couloir. The couloir is steep and involves crossing rock bands mixed with snow climbing. From the top of the couloir we follow the ridge on rock past the false summit and on to the true summit.


High Altitude Camps

Black Diamond 3-person tents will be used at high camps and these will be occupied by two persons up to the highest camp where we usually place three persons per tent for warmth. All high altitude food, stoves and cooking gas will be in place and members are only required to carry their own personal gear during the expedition.



We provide medical oxygen, portable altitude chambers and comprehensive medical chests at base camp. The higher camps also have medical kits and we also ask that all climbers carry individual micro high altitude medical kits at all times above base camp as the Sherpas and leader does. All climbing members and climbing Sherpas wear a personal avalanche beacon above base camp.



For constant communication we have all climbing members, climbing Sherpas and guides have their own personal two-way radio at all times on the mountain. We also have base station radios at base camp and have these active at all times when members and Sherpas are on the mountain.

Our satellite phones and satellite internet modems are available for our team members to use at base camp at actual cost price as we feel charging an outrageous amount to phone or email family is unfair during such a long expedition.


Weather Forecasts

To ensure the safety of all our climbers we subscribe to a professional weather forecast service for the duration of the season and have access to this information at all the respective base and high camps and receive constant updates during our summit push.


Guided versus Non-Guided Expeditions

8,000-meter peaks are a serious undertaking and climbers need to be aware there are certain risks that are out of the control of Altitude Junkies. We prefer to describe our Makalu expedition as professionally managed rather than guided. A true guided expedition is only where the guides have UIAGM certification, which is the only internationally recognized qualification for mountain guides and there is a 3:1 or smaller guide to climber ratio

Climbers on our Makalu expedition need to have previously climbed on a 7,000-meter or 8,000-meter Himalayan peak to qualify for our expedition. We do not consider a climb of Aconcagua by its normal route or false traverse as suitable experience to climb Makalu with the Junkies.

If you need to be guided, look for guides with full UIAGM certification.

Altitude Junkies does not allow any solo climbing above base camp on any of our expeditions.

Photo credits: Makalu by Mark Horrell

The expedition cost includes:
· Single accommodation with breakfast in Kathmandu as itinerary
· All transportation and meals in Nepal as itinerary
· Porters for 45kg personal gear to base camp and return
· All meals at base camp
· Group Nepal climbing Sherpas
· Group Nepal cooks at base camp
· Expedition permit, peak fee and conservation fees
· Liaison Officer expenses
· Garbage Deposit
· Base camp and high camp tents
· Group climbing equipment, stoves and fuel
· Two-way radios
· Medical kits, portable altitude chamber and medical oxygen
· Supplementary climbing oxygen, mask and regulator
· High altitude freeze-dried meals
· Climbing Sherpa summit bonus and carry bonus
· Kitchen Sherpa staff gratuities
· Helicopter flight from Lukla to Yangla Kharka
· Helicopter flight from base camp to Kathmandu
· Satellite phone use at cost price
The expedition cost does not include:
· Airfare to and from Nepal
· Meals and drinks in Kathmandu
· Alcoholic beverages in Kathmandu
· Bottled beverages, showers and snack food on trek
· Nepal visa costs
· Evacuation costs, medical and rescue insurance
· Personal climbing clothing and equipment
· Personal Puja contribution

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