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Expedition Rewind: The Struggle for Makalu
Posted on October 31, 2014


To carry on the Five Years of First Ascent celebration, we’re looking back at the top 10 (of 53) expeditions our guide team tackled in the last five years. While the list of summits and triumphs has been long, we couldn’t leave this one off the list: First Ascent guides David Morton and Melisa Arnot’s struggle to climb 8,463-meter Makalu, the fifth-tallest peak in the world. Fighting bronchial pneumonia and brutal winds on a self-supported expedition they were turned back 150 meters from the summit, but that didn’t stop this story from rating as one of the ten best epics of the past five years.

Melissa Arnot on Makalu

Dave Morton is no stranger to high-altitude climbs, “The experience up high is irreplaceable. The intensity, struggle, beauty, challenge—there’s nothing else like it. Back down where we belong, a little sliver of that experience stays with me and reminds me of that other magical place I get to visit on occasion.” Melissa Arnot agrees, stating that even though they didn’t bag the peak, “Sometimes it takes the summit staying just outside of your grasp for you to remember the hard days, the work, and pain—simply, the things that make us grow.”

Makalu Stats

After months of training separately and then together in Mexico, Morton and Arnot took on the challenge of an attempt on Makalu without using high altitude porters or supplemental oxygen. Read their incredible expedition report at and watch the recap in David Morton’s video below. —LYA Editor

Author: - Friday, October 31st, 2014

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