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Makalu became the 13th summit in Andrew’s quest to climb all fourteen big ones, when he reached its summit alone on 21st May, 2008. After a long period of acclimatisation, Andrew joined two former climbing partners, Hector Ponce de Leon from Mexico, with whom he climbed Everest in 2004 and Neil Ward from his unsuccessful 2007 Shishapangma expedition, for this attempt on the world’s fifth highest peak. Their ascent almost ended prematurely when the helicopter they’d chartered to fly to basecamp crashed on landing on the flight before theirs. The team needed to wait another week before the last operating helicopter in Nepal was available to get them in.

Once at basecamp, they pushed quickly onto the mountain but ill health plagued the team and left them seriously weakened. Neil went for the summit first but was defeated by bad weather. Andrew and Hector delayed their attempt by a couple of days and had better weather but the constant strain of ill health had left Hector to weak to continue and Andrew went on alone. The climb to the summit was a mixture of steep rock and ice and it was a race against time as bad weather threatened again. He reached the top at 11.15am, the penultimate summit of his project.

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