Makalu (8463m.) was first climbed by a French party in 1955. The peak was first mapped and photographed from the Tibetan side by the 1921 British Everest reconnaissance. Hillary and Shipton photographed Makalu during a side trip on the 1951 Everest reconnaissance. Hillary and others approached the peak a year later after the failure of their Cho Oyu expedition. The first attempt on Makalu was in 1954 by a US team, mostly from California, who trekked all the way from the Indian border near Biratnagar. At the same time a British team approached the mountain, but this expedition was abandoned when Hillary became seriously ill and had to be evacuated. In the autumn of 1954 a French team attempted the peak. In the following spring, successfully ascents were made by three teams of French climbers on successive days. In 1960 a large scientific and mountaineering expedition wintered at the foot of Ama Dablam, occupying the Green and Silver buts. In May 1961, the expedition trekked across the Mingbo La and other high passes to the foot off Makalu, where they planned to climb the French route, Sickness stopped the expedition, which became a heroic struggle for survival.
The Japanese climbed Makalu in 1970, another French team climbed it in 1971 and a Yugoslav expedition reached the summit in 1975. In 1976 Spanish and Czechoslovakian teams joined up near the summit.