Shaped as a four-sided pyramid, Makalu has two notable subsidiary peaks. Kangchungtse, or Makalu II (7,678m), lies about 3km 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, 7,200m saddle is Chomo Lonzo (7,804m).
As with many of the Khumbu’s tallest mountains, the towering mass of Makalu was admired and studied by many Everest parties but it was only once Everest was conquered that attention turned to summitting other peaks. The first successful ascent of Makalu was made by Frenchmen Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray on 15 May 1955, via the north face and northeast ridge, establishing the standard route.
Makalu is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb, notorious for its steep pitches and knife-edged ridges that are completely open to the elements. The final ascent of the summit pyramid involves technical rock/ice climbing. Only five of the first sixteen attempts made on the mountain were successful. To date, the total number of Makalu summiteers stands at fewer than 300.