December 2016

Our 2017 expedition to the South Pole and Mount Vinson has launched! Stay tuned as we journey to the earth’s southernmost continent with expedition leader Garrett Madison.

 

To celebrate our successful Aconcagua expedition, we concluded with a team dinner, an Argentinean ‘Asado’ barbecue with a selection of meat and vegetables cooked to perfection over the open fire. All team members are now on their way home, after what has been a wonderful experience.  We were very lucky with the weather, as our summit day on December 19th was perfect without any wind or clouds.  Since then, the weather has deteriorated and the other teams have not been able to summit, let alone go much higher above base camp because of the high winds.  This is typical of Aconcagua and the southern Andes, where storms can pass through and prevent climbing high on the peak for up to a week at a time.  As a recap, we did the ‘Aconcagua 360’ route, trekking in the less traveled Vacas valley to Plaza Argentina base camp, then utilizing 3 high camps before reaching the summit, and then descending to the other side of the mountain to the Plaza Mulas base amp, and trekking out the shorter and more popular Horcones valley.  We enjoyed a night before and after the expedition at the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes with our good friend Steve Allen, who does a fantastic job of managing the hotel, a rustic ski lodge in the winter that becomes a haven for Aconcagua climbers during the summer climbing season.  A couple of nights at the Park Hyatt in Mendoza made our stay very comfortable, a great way to begin and end our time together in Argentina.  We have had a fantastic time, enjoying the experience of climbing the highest peak in the Andes (and also in the Americas) as well and immersing ourselves in Argentine culture and cuisine.  Onward, to the next mountain adventure!   – Garrett Madison

.

img_6739-jpg

.

img_6753-jpg

.

img_6755-jpg

.

img_6776-jpg

.

img_6823-jpg

.

img_6856-jpg

.

img_6864-jpg

.

img_6865-jpg

Hello this is Garrett calling in for the Aconcagua team today is Monday, December 19 and we are at the summit of Aconcagua. Beautiful day up here no clouds in the sky and no wind we really lucked out and just had a perfect day to get to the top of the mountain. First team up here have the mountain all to ourselves. Just hanging out taking photos and enjoying a few high fives and getting ready to head back down to high camp. Spend the night at high camp tonight then head down to base camp tomorrow. Everything is going well here and we look forward to getting down to base camp and then out to Mendoza soon for our celebratory dinner. Thanks for following along.

.

Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

.

To review our climbing team’s summit route you can view our LIVE RainOn mapping platform HERE.

.

img_1725

Climbers reach the summit of Aconcagua at 6,961m / 22,837ft

“Hi, this is Garrett calling in for the Aconcagua team today is December 18th, Sunday. We are up at high camp on Aconcagua and tonight is our big night. We are going to leave for the summit early tomorrow morning probably around 5AM. And hope to be on top of Aconcagua the highest peak in the Andes midday or early afternoon. Looks like the forecasts are nice weather tomorrow not to much wind not to much snow so with a little bit of luck we will on top of the mountain and back down to high camp tomorrow evening. We will check in soon, thanks so much.”

.

Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

.

To review our climbing team’s summit route you can view our LIVE RainOn mapping platform here.

.

img_1699

The Stone Sentinel

“Hi this is Garrett calling in for the Aconcagua expedition, today is Saturday December 17th. Today we did a carry from our Camp 2 up to Camp 3 on Aconcagua. We then returned down to Camp 2 to spend the night. Our plan tomorrow is to move up to Camp 3 and hopefully go for the summit on the next day, the 19th. Everyone is doing well here, had some good weather and a little wind, sunny and warm. We are enjoying the views of the Andes and eating a few good meals. All is well and we will check in tomorrow when we get up to high camp. Fingers crossed for good weather.”

.

Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

.

Aconcagua Expedition

Aconcagua Expedition December 17th 2016

Yesterday our Aconcagua climbing team successfully completed a carry to Camp 2. After moving equipment and provisions higher up the mountain they returned to Camp 1 for the night. Target summit date of the Stone Sentinel is December 19. The team is in good condition and excited to climb higher!

Kilimanjaro weather can be great, weather on mountains can also not be great. As we tried to sleep in our tents in preparation of our 11pm wake up for our summit bid, our tents folded like tacos in the wind and sounded like chip bags with snow and hail. Needless to say, I don’t think anybody slept. We got up, ate a light breakfast and started our ascent. About 5 inches of new snow had fallen overnight and the wind had increased, we climbed higher and higher in the dark bucking a serious wind, steady and unrelenting. By around 5:15AM we stood at Stella Point, the bulk of the climbing below us the sun rose and illuminated Africa and the clouds below. We made the final stroll to the summit and at 6:40AM we all celebrated. The descent was straightforward if not muddy due to the melting snow and the wind had abated. We were in high spirits as we strolled back into camp until we saw what remained of much of our camp. The winds throughout the night had taken their toll on our cook tent, our dining tent and our porters sleeping tent leaving them destroyed. What would generally be a celebratory lunch turned into a rush to pack and head down the mountain. As the icy winds began again we hurriedly packed our gear and hightailed it down the mountain. After a 4 hour hike we finally got to relax at McKay high camp where we are, drank water and tea and slept like baby rhinos.
.
The last day of any trip is bitter sweet. On one handed we long for cold beer, new food and hot showers while on the other we have to leave a place we have given so much for. We came out here and climbed the mountain and the trip is over. Now we all go back to our lives and have the memories and pictures. This was on all of our minds as we hiked the 10 kilometer hike out to the gate, through the rain forest we saw more birds and monkeys than we could count. We arrived at the gate to our team singing and dancing and congratulating us on a great climb. We feasted on a fantastic buffet lunch, thanked our staff, said goodbye then loaded up in the van back to the hotel. We are all sad to be going home, but psyched for the pool.
.
 k1
.
k2
.
k3

Yesterday was a favorite so far for our Kilimanjaro team! The Baranco Wall can be an intimidating feature and as we woke up we could only see it for brief moments through the breaking fog. We stashed our trekking poles and steadily climbed. Mike, Todd and Cassey showed no signs of slowing as we crested the wall! As we bobbed and weaved our way around the mountain we were all in awe on the mountain to our left, and the beautiful countryside of Tanzania to our right. Karanga camp was a welcome sight!

Today we sit primed and ready for our climb tonight! The climb from Karanga to Kosovo camp at 15,500ft is a rewarding but demanding day. As usual Mike, Todd and Cassey floated it! As the scrub brush disappeared leaving only gravel and rocks, one starts to feel the change from hiking to climbing. Now we rest, drink water, eat and prepare for our late night start and our climb to the top of Africa!

Sid Pattison

.

.kili-1kili-2 kili-3 kili-4 kili1-1 kili1-2

After a few relaxing days in Aconcagua base camp and a carry to camp 1 yesterday we are now heading up today to begin our summit ascent. We plan to climb to camp 1 and sleep there tonight and then carry a load tomorrow to camp 2. The following day we plan to move to camp 2 and then evaluate the weather forecast. If all looks good we will carry a load to camp 3, then climb to camp 3 and sleep, going for the summit the following day on December 19th.

Garrett Madison

.

15317951_10154303570332499_3461094061459631416_n

.

15420832_10154303570057499_8077279758734313782_n

.

15492391_10154303569727499_17348732128030383_n

.

15541284_10154303569422499_7932402839485097492_n

.

15578719_10154303569602499_382023005262842078_n

Yesterday we arrived at Plaza Argentina base camp after a nice 3-day trek up the Vacas and Horcones valleys. We received perfect weather on our trek and enjoyed barbecues over the open campfire under starry skies. On our last day of the trek we had a couple of river crossings and noticed that the rivers were a little higher than previous seasons because of the large amount of snow on the mountain, this should make for good route conditions higher up on the mountain. Our plan now is to rest and relax for one day to organize our equipment for the higher camps and the day after begin our first load carry to Camp 1. Everyone is doing great and we are hoping this nice weather will hold for us!

Garrett Madison

.

15338814_10154295192647499_3632491014475052801_n

.

 

15350595_10154295191727499_1235102150878909099_n

.

 

15420792_10154295192042499_5326312689555198394_n

.

15350535_10154295193112499_5952740285776430812_n

.

15400560_10154295191002499_1388613193577168482_n