November 2015

Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd battled sustained heavy winds with gusts of over 50 mph rolling across the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains today. This weather related rest day allowed the team to finalize gear bags and enjoy warm meals together while avoiding the harshest of arctic conditions. With any luck the wind will subside in the morning and allow the team to push onward. Garrett and team are situated at just over 7,000 feet based on our most recent data and will be pushing to 9,100 depending on tomorrow’s weather conditions. Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd are doing great and are excited for the next push. Today’s breakfast and lunch menu sounded delicious 🙂  The team is staying well fed under Garrett’s watch!

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

Monday, November 30th.

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Base Camp on Mount Vinson at 7,000ft.

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Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains.

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Blue bird day!

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Today our climbing team in Antarctica spent the day settling into Base Camp on Vinson Massif and prepared for the ascent to Camp 1 in the coming days. Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd woke up to a breakfast feast this morning, including pancakes, eggs, and bacon! Garrett’s mountain culinary skills are some of the best on the mountains 🙂  After a delicious breakfast the team did a quick ascent and strategically moved food, gear, and other personal items further up the mountain in preparation for the team’s push to Camp 1. The team is now waiting on the weather conditions for tomorrow before determining the days agenda. Depending on the wind and temperature, our climbing team may spend another night in Base Camp. Our team has a exciting opportunity to interact with other Antarctic explorers as well as scientists doing meaningful research in their fields while they make their journey across the frozen continent. To the top!

This article written on Mashable shares additional photos of Thrusday’s historic Boeing 757 landing on the blue-ice runway.

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

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Unloading gear and setting up base camp on Vinson Massif.

 

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Camp 1 on Vinson Massif

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Beautiful shot of the Ellsworth Mountains from Base Camp.

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Summit in sight at 4,892 m (16,050 ft)!

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DHC-6 Twin Otter near Mount Vinson Base Camp.

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Greetings from Mount Vinson Base Camp, Antarctica! Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have flown safely from Union Glacier Camp to base camp today. The team enjoyed a crystal clear day while preparing their gear for departure. From a Douglas DC3 in Union Glacier Camp, the team made the quick flight to a closer staging area near Vinson Massif. After which they boarded a DHC-6 Twin Otter that transported the team closer to the mountain. The day was sunny and provided spectacular views of the Ellsworth Mountains for our team. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd worked together to build a large snow wall to protect their camp from the expected 50mph winds tomorrow. After setting up camp our team enjoyed a delicious dinner of pork chops and settled in for the night. Tomorrow the team will review rope travel, ice axe arrest, and crevasse rescue techniques in preparation for the next push to Camp 1. Onward!

Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader

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Our team’s arrival into Union Glacier Camp on the first ever 757. Business class seats all the way to Antarctica! Photo captured by: Adventure Network International.

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Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica.

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Beautiful photo on this sunny day!!

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Douglas DC3 at Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica.

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Union Glacier Camp Tent

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Union Glacier Camp with the Ellsworth Mountains behind.

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Gorgeous shot of Union Glacier Camp!!

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Our climbing team preparing for the ascent!

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Visual of Antarctica. North is straight up. Images by Google Earth.

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Visual representation of our climbing team’s flight travels today. Starting below at Union Glacier Camp our team flew up to Vinson Massif base camp. Images by Google Earth.

 

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Congratulations to our Ecuador Volcanoes team for their successful Whymper Peak Summit today at 6,268 m (20,564 ft)!! Luke, Zack and Estalin have reached the summit of Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest peak! Chimborazo’s location along the earth’s equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center (aka closest to the sun). This challenging climb with many technical challenges provided spectacular views across the many glaciated peaks in the Andes mountain range. Today on this crystal clear day, we could see Colombia in the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Our team is now back in Quito where they enjoyed their celebration dinner. Estalin, Luke and Zack are enjoying their last couple days in the capital city of Quito, experiencing the rich culture and beautiful Spanish colonial architecture.

Thank you Estalin Valladolid for the beautiful photos across Ecuador and great leadership throughout! Cheers team!

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Luke and Zack starting to walk to Base Camp Stubel near Chimborazo.

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Rise and shine! Alpine start on Chimborazo summit day.

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Luke and Zack on their final push to the summit of Chimborazo!

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Last steps to the summit of Chimborazo, in the background you can see Veintimilla Summit at 6,230 m (20,440 ft).

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Whymper summit at 6,268 m (20,564 ft) In the back on the right you can see Cotopaxi!

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Cloud layers rolling in over Luke and Zack.

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Descending from Veintimilla Summit at 6,230 m (20,440 ft).

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Descending from the summit of Whymper peak, the background Ilinizas,  Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Antizana.

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After the summit of Chimborazo, Luke Zack, and Estalin eating rabbit and guinea pig in Quito.

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Our Vinson Massif climbing team took the first Boeing 757 ride to Union Glacier, Antarctica! This was a huge upgrade in comfort compared to years past in the Ilyushin IL76-TD, we enjoyed business class seating on the way to blue-ice runway in Antarctica. This Boeing 757 flight was taken on to prove the feasibility of landing commercial passenger airliners at Union Glacier, Antarctica. This is a part of a larger project into the use of such aircraft for continued Antarctic operations. We are now preparing our gear and getting ready to fly again tomorrow. We will fly via twin otter aircraft 45 minutes to Vinson Base Camp where be begin our climb.

Check out additional photos of the 757 touching down in Union Glacier here. Our friends at Adventure Network International were able to get some awesome pictures!

For family members and friends ~ Andrew Tierney can be reached during this expedition at andrew@madisonmountaineering.com

Let the journey begin!

Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader

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Mike,Garrett, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd with boarding passes & penguins at our flight briefing in Punta Arenas. Yes, we are bringing penguins to Antarctica 🙂

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Boeing 757-200 ER preparing for takeoff from Punta Arenas!  The landing was a joint partnership between Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), Loftleidir Icelandic, and NAS Corporation Limited.

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Loading up this Boeing 757-200 ER and heading to Union Glacier! What a ride!!

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Today our Ecuador climbing team had a relaxing day on Quilotoa Lake, a water-filled caldera that is also the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The day was filled with gorgeous panoramic views and blue skies as Estalin, Luke and Zack prepare for the ascent of Chimborazo tomorrow! Tonight the team will be organizing gear and preparing for the next day’s climb to our high camp on Chimborazo. On summit day, the team will begin to climb before dawn, and reach the summit of Chimborazo (20,560ft) shortly after sunrise with good weather conditions. The summit of Chimborazo is the closest point to the sun and provides climbers a spectacular mountain top view!

Estalin Suárez Valladolid continues to share his beautiful photographs shown below of this amazing journey through Ecuador! Enjoy 🙂

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Our team waiting for lunch, Luke looks hungry!

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Luke and Zack enjoying the descent!

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Luke and Zack spending time exploring near Quilotoa Lake!

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Luke and Zack taking in the beautiful country side near Chimborazo!

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Team bonding at the lodge!

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Stunning view from Quilotoa Lake, only a day of relaxation before Chimborazo!

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A short walk up to Cerro Chalata near Chimborazo lodge.

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Summit of Cerro Chalata at (4,230 m/13,874 ft)!

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Congratulations to Luke, Zack and Estalin for successfully making it to the Summit of Cayambe Volcano at 5,790 m (19,000 ft)! Cayambe Volcano is located in the Cordillera Central, a gorgeous range of the Ecuadorian Andes in northern Ecuador. Our climbing team came together as a team and safely pushed through the clouds all the way to the top of this Holocene compound volcano! Prior to this exciting summit push our team was able to relax and enjoy the scenic city of Otavalo surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura 4,630 m (15,190 ft) and Cotacachi 4,995 m (16,388 ft).

Now back in the city of Hacienda Guachala, the team is resting before departing for Estrella del Chimborazo Lodge at 4,000 m (13,125 ft). Estalin, Luke and Zack will organize gear and prepare for the next day’s climb to our high camp. Stay tuned!

Estalin’s photos are shared below, enjoy!

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We stopped at the monument called the Mitad del mundo (middle of the world) that is said to be the “only real” statue located right on the equator!

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The indigenous Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles, usually made of wool (that is sometimes as black as a raven), which are sold at this famous market in Otavalo city. Luke and Zack were able to find beautiful souvenirs here!

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Luke and Zack enjoying the local cuisine in downtown Otavalo. They needed all the energy they could get before making the summit push to top of Cayambe!

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Our team stayed safe and worked together as a team to make the successful push to the summit!

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Luke, Zack and Estalin posing for a summit shot at 5,790 m (19,000 ft) on top of Cayambe!

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The Mount Vinson team is in route to rondevu in Patagonia! I’ve been here two days and have enjoyed the vibrant architecture and bustling downtown city. Punta Arenas is a departure point for many wishing to experience the Patagonia region. Today my morning walk on the Brunswick Peninsula unveiled fishermen, kayakers, longboarders and adventure photographers enjoying the beautiful sunrise across the horizon. Among the many attractions in Punta Arena, my favorites have been the monument erected on the main square to Ferdinand Magellan, the Seaside Walkway at sunrise and the renowned Dreams Casino and Hotel (pictures below). Tomorrow our team of global explorers will begin to arrive. This is my tenth expedition to the frozen continent and I’m excited as I’ve ever been. We have journeyed to el fin del mundo (“the end of the world”), and we are about to go further.

Garrett Madison  ~  Expedition Leader

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Dreams Casino and Hotel ~ they are well known for a beautiful view from the Skybar!

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Colorful houses along the waterfront in Punta Arenas. Along the water you can see the Seaside Walkway. In the horizon is the Strait of Magellan. This navigable sea route separates mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south.

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Selk’nam Patagonian Indian ~ a popular tradition says that those who kiss or touch the Indian’s toe will come back to Patagonia one day. Had to do it!

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A statue in the Plaza of Punta Arenas memorializes the nearly-vanished Yamanas tribespeople.

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Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region and is among the largest cities in the entire Patagonian Region. Patagonia is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains as well as the deserts, steppes and grasslands east of this southern portion of the Andes.

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After a good nights rest in the city of Hacienda Guachala, Luke, Zack and Estalin departed toward the mystical cloud forests of the Imbabura Volcano region. The team had a wonderful day exploring this inactive stratovolcano in northern Ecuador and successfully navigated their way to the summit at 4,630 m (15,190 ft). Imbabura Volcano has not erupted for at least 14,000 years and provides explorers a beautiful landscape to acclimatize and view the fields of ash from thousands of years ago. Luke and Zack practiced their glacier skills yesterday on the base of Cayambe and prepared for the summit push today. Stay tuned!

Estalin continues to share beautiful photos of the team’s journey through Ecuador. Enjoy! 🙂

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Luke is very happy upon reaching the summit of Imbabura Volcano!

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Quick photo as the team begins the trek toward the summit! 

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Luke putting his rock climbing skills to use, don’t look down! 

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Zack traversing his way through the rock formations on Imbabura Volcano:

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Luke smiles for the camera as he makes the last few steps to the summit!

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Summit of Imbabura at 4,630 m (15,190 ft):

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Madison Mountaineering’s 2015 Mount Vinson climbers are currently enroute to Punta Arenas, Chile! Our journey begins in the Tierra del Fuego or ‘Land of Fire’ in Chile’s southernmost city of Punta Arenas, located on the straight of Magellan. The team will gather together, have a few welcome drinks, and check equipment for before departing on this adventure of a lifetime.

Expedition leader Garrett Madison is preparing final expedition logistics as the team prepares to fly to Antarctica onboard the massive Russian Ilyushin 76 jet that is shown below. Garrett has led 9 successful expeditions to Mt. Vinson over the last 6 years. Each of these 9 climbs was successful in reaching the top of Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica. Madison Mountaineering’s approach to leading small, self sufficient teams allows us the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in Antarctica and accommodate the needs of our climbers.

Our flight from Punta Arenas to the frozen continent is currently scheduled for November 26th. Photos of Punta Arenas will be up shortly!

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The Russian Ilyushin 76 jet that we will fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier, Antarctica!

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