January 2016

I am very proud to say that the Madison Mountaineering climbing team on Aconcagua had complete success!  All team members stood on the highest point of the Western & Southern Hemispheres together on January 22nd. Congratulations to the following climbers:

-Audrey Cadwallader

-Linda Wohlegemuth

-Walt Harris

-Ginna Kelly

-Peter Horsman

-Bernd Horsman

-Wenny Sanchez

As many climbers are aware, this season on Aconcagua has been a very tough one with severe storms preventing teams from reaching the summit.  As we approached the mountain on our trek into base camp, we encountered many teams that had not ascended past Camp 1 on the mountain, and were very discouraging.  The look of defeat in their faces and of time spent suffering at high altitude without any summit attempt made us wonder….We pressed onward.  After we reached base camp we received a weather forecast that suggested favorable weather, but only for a short time.  In order to take advantage of this, we accelerated our climbing schedule and put our team in a position to summit on the last day of good weather (January 22nd).  All team members pulled together to push the itinerary forward, with hard work and determination we succeeded in reaching our goal.

The day after we reached the summit the next storm cycle began with high winds and snow preventing any other summit attempts, we reached base camp on this day, and were informed by the park rangers that they were closing the mountain to climbers indefinitely because of landslides. We really lucked out with our weather window, and with a group individual climbers who pulled together as a team to make the summit become a reality for everyone.  Great job team!

The team is doing well and we are currently waiting in Penitentes for the road to open so we can drive to Mendoza. Because of the landslides the road is currently closed in both directions. We expect the roads to be opened shorty. Onward!

-Garrett Madison

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A picnic on the approach hike

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Aconcagua from Plaza Mulas base camp

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Aconcagua team on the summit!

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Climbers head up the Canaleta

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Last rest break before the summit

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Peter climbing up the Canaleta

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Summit day!

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The team at Camp 1 on the way up

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View of the Andes from 22,500′!

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Jeff, José, and I have made a safe and successful ascent of Cayambe volcano! After we finished our acclimatization hikes near Quito we departed for Cayambe hut at an elevation of 15,250 feet. After a hour of driving from Hacienda Guachala we took our expedition vehicle across rocky and steep terrain toward Cayambe. The hut was beautifully located and provided spectacular views of the mountain. After three days of glacier training we prepared our gear and left at 11pm for the summit. After 7 hours of climbing we made it over the last crevasse and to the top on a crystal clear day just as the sun came up over the horizon. We were the first climbing team to reach the summit 🙂 We had an amazing adventure and thank our guide José Luis for his expert guidance and support! I will be posting additional photos from our expedition to the Madison Mountaineering Facebook page!

Onward!

-Andrew Tierney

Photos taken below by Andrew Tierney using a GoPro Hero 4 Black and iPhone 6. Enjoy! 🙂

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Dinner at Hacienda Guachala. The Hacienda Guachalá is known as the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, and the most important hacienda until the middle of the 20th century. The oldest buildings date from the year 1580!

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Breakfast with a view at Hacienda Guachala.

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Middle of the World!

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Happy Birthday Jeff! 🙂 Mountain Birthday’s are the best!

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Jeff with Cayambe in the background!

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Glacier training on Cayambe.

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Ladder training in preparation for Jeff’s upcoming Everest ascent!

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Andrew enjoying the fixed ropes and ladders on Cayambe!

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Jeff preparing to cross the ladder.

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Andrew on the summit of Cayambe!

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Jeff on the summit of Cayambe! Rise & Shine!

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Spectacular sunrise across Ecuador!

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Cayambe Hut

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Cayambe Volcano

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Last sunset before we made our ascent!

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In the final expedition audio dispatch, today Garrett reports that the team had a great day descending the 1,600 vertical meters from high camp. They are now safely down to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4367m / 14,327ft) and revelling in their 100% summit success! Doubly great day as the team is also celebrating team member Ginna Kelly’s birthday. Happy birthday Ginna from all of us at Madison Mountaineering! Tomorrow they will trek out to the Los Horcones trail head and continue the celebration with a nice team dinner and night in Los Penitentes before heading back to Mendoza on Monday.

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Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison:

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Beautiful photos taken Wenny Sanchez:

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100 % summit on Aconcagua!! Congratulations to the entire Madison Mountaineering climbing team as they made it to the summit of the highest point of the South American continent just minutes ago. Reaching an elevation of 6962 meters /22,841 Ft with blue skies gave the team a perfect break in the weather for this summit push. Woot!!! “Couldn’t ask for a better summit day!” Listen to expedition leader Garrett Madison‘s phone call from the summit:

Following this successful summit on Aconcagua, our team will descend from our Camp 3 to Plaza de Mulas base camp at(13,800′). After a days rest our team will then make the return trek to Horcones trail head, and transfer to the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes. Here the team will have a much deserved shower and celebration dinner!! Congratulations to all of our climbers and we look forward to seeing the beautiful pictures to come.

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6962 meters /22,841 Ft on the Suunto! Go Team!!

6962 meters/22,841 Ft

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Team members celebrating at the summit of Aconcagua!

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The Aconcagua team is preparing for their summit bid and have moved to the high camp, Camp 3 at 19,600 ft. (5974m)! Everyone is doing great and hoping for nice weather for the summit climb. The team is ready for the long day tomorrow required to reach the top of the highest point in the Western and Southern Hemispheres and then return back to high camp.

On summit day our team will climb to Independencia refuge, then traverse the western slope, ascend the Canaleta, and reach the summit ridge leading to the highest point in the Americas. Descending into the Horcones valley and exit out of the western side of Aconcagua, nearly circumnavigating the entire peak!

Onward and upward!

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Beautiful photos taken by Aconcagua climber Linda Wohlegemuth!

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Team photo while climbing Aconcagua!

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Team members and tentmates Audrey and Linda call into to report the team is in good health for summit, setting several personal altitude records, and have completed the carry to the high camp, Camp 3 (5989m / 19,650ft). They were also able to sneak in several product placements in their dispatch! 🙂 After a nice dinner and night at Camp 2, the plan is to complete the move to Camp 3 tomorrow and plan to make the summit attempt on Friday, January 22. The team members miss their family members and send their love. To higher places!!

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Bernd on the way to Camp 3:

Bernd on the way to Camp 3

Yesterday Jeff, José, and I summited Pichincha in record time and enjoyed panoramic views of Cayambe, Cotopaxi (active), and many other notorious mountains across Ecuador. Once we reached the summit at 15,700 feet we had lunch and continued to acclimate as we prepare for the journey to Cayambe hut today. After our climb we checked out of our hotel in Quito and drove a short distance to Hacienda Guachala, a famous establishment that dates back to 1580! As we fell asleep we enjoyed a warm fire in our room and woke up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee on our patio. Today we will journey to the Cayambe hut and begin to review the technical skills that we will need for the climb. Service will become harder to find but I will try and update the blog as soon as I am able. Onward!

-Andrew

 

Photos taken below by Andrew Tierney

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Bouldering across a rock field as we make our way up Pichincha.

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Jeff and José Luis climbing up the last few steps of Pichincha!

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Jeff and Andrew at the summit of Pichincha (15,700 feet).

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Beautiful views looking over the city of Quito from Pichincha!

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Today Peter, from the Aconcagua climbing team, provides a audio dispatch from Camp 2 as the team rests at an elevation of (5492m/18,020ft) and outlines their summit day plan. We also get a nice introduction to all of the other team members. Weather is continuing to be great, the team is feeling good and looking forward to the summit attempt in a few days.

Check out team member Ginna Kelly’s awesome cause – http://climbforconservation.org/

The audio dispatch is in two parts:

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2)

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Walt and Ginna relaxing at camp (Photo by: Bernd):

Walt and Ginna (photo by Bernd)

Walt and Ginna relaxing in base camp

Today Jeff Glasbrenner and I explored the rolling country side and completed acclimatization hikes near Quito. We cruised to the top of Pasochoa at 13,860 ft and bagged another nearby summit as well. After a day of hiking we explored the beautiful city of Quito where we saw the historic sites and had an authentic Ecuadorian dinner in town. Tomorrow we will continue to acclimate to the altitude with our amazing guide, José Luis, and climb Pinchincha at 15,700 ft. The weather is beautiful and our team is very excited to begin our journey to Cayambe in the days to come.

To the top!

-Andrew Tierney

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Photos taken using DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone and GoPro Hero4. Enjoy!

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Virgin of El Panecillo overlooking the city of Quito

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Church of San Francisco

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One of my favorite shots looking over the city of Quito!

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Basílica del Voto Nacional – Quito

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Rolling layers of fog made for a beautiful picture here from the summit of Pasochoa (13,860′).

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Jeff and I taking our first summit photo! More to come!!

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Our adventure rig for the week!

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Climbing down from Pasochoa over the rolling hills outside of Quito

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Palace in the Plaza Grande

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Church of La Compañía de Jesús

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Today Garrett Madison checked in via satellite phone to report that under great weather conditions the team made a successful carry of gear and supplies up to Camp 2 (5492m / 18,020ft) on the north flank of Aconcagua as they prepare to move to Camp 2 tomorrow. This “double carry” strategy (that is, carrying a load of gear up to the next camp and dropping it off, then descending back back down to sleep at the lower camp, then moving up the following day) lightens the load when advancing up the mountain and adds to the acclimatization process following the ‘climb high / sleep low’ approach.

Garrett reports that the team is healthy, strong, and in excellent spirits and are all hoping for continued great weather!
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Audio dispatch from expedition leader Garrett Madison:

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Team dinner:

Team Pre-Summit Huddle