- 1970: The first ascent of the southeast ridge route attempted by the Americans was made by Y. Ozaki and A. Tanaka from a Japanese expedition on May 23.
- 1971: The very technical West Pillar route was climbed in May by Frenchmen B. Mellet and Y. Seigneur.
- 1975: An expedition led by Aleš Kunaver reached the top of Makalu up its steep southern side, becoming the first Slovenes to summit an eight-thousander. The first amongst them was Stane Belak. This was the third ascent of an eight-thousand meter peak by a great mountain face.
- 1980: The second ascent of the West Pillar was completed in May by John Roskelley (summit), Chris Kopczynski, James States and Kim Momb, without Sherpa support and without bottled oxygen.
- 1981: On 15 October renowned Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka ascended Makalu via a new route up the north-western side and north crest. Kukuczka climbed solo, in Alpine style, without supplemental oxygen.
- 1988: Frenchman Marc Batard climbed in one day (after camps were set up) to the summit via the West Buttress on April 27.
- 1988: On October 12, Carlos Carsolio summit Makalu for his third eight-thousander in his personal account.
- 2006: On or about January 27 the French mountaineer Jean-Christophe Lafaille disappeared on Makalu while trying to make the first winter ascent.
- 2009: Makalu was first climbed in winter on February 9, 2009 by Italian Simone Moro and Kazakh Denis Urubko. It was the final Nepali eight-thousander to be climbed in winter conditions. Moro had previously made the first winter ascent of Shishapangma in winter 2005 with Pole Piotr Morawski.
Makalu is one of the harder eight-thousanders, and is considered one of the most difficult mountains in the world to climb. The mountain is 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.