Author: garrett_madison

Our Aconcagua team reached the summit and have now returned safely off of the mountain, congrats to them in achieving a safe and successful climb on the highest peak in the Western and Southern Hemispheres at 6,961m / 22,837ft!  They reported cold and windy conditions up high and on summit day, but still managed to succeed and had a beautiful day on top!  Below are some select photos from the climb.  Merry Christmas! Enjoy!

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Aconcagua team

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Aconcagua team

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Aconcagua team

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Yesterday at 9:15 AM the Madison Mountaineering team reached the top of the Unclimbed Peak, Tharke Khang, located in the Nepal Himalayas near Mount Everest at over 22,000′ (6670m).  We began our summit day just after midnight on November 3rd, and departed our high camp (19,200′ / 5820m) on the Nup La glacier near the China – Nepal border at 2 AM.  This was the culmination of more than a year’s planning, we were anxiously anticipating what the route to the summit would entail, and wondering if we would be able to ascend to the top of a peak that no climbers had yet attempted before us.  Although seemingly doable in our eyes from google earth and helicopter reconnaissance, we expected the route would likely have some unexpected challenges in store for us, perhaps preventing us from reaching the summit.

From our high camp we traversed the Nup La glacier 45 minutes to the North Face of the peak, ascending a firm 45 degree snow slope about 500 ft. up to the ridge line, breaking through the corniced ridge, then ascending the ridge through varying degrees of steepness, sometimes vertical for sustained portions.  Over the previous 2 days our team had ascended about two thirds of the route and placed fixed ropes over the steep and exposed sections, however the remaining 1/3 of the route to the summit was still unclimbed and our plan was to find and establish this portion of the route as we climbed on our final summit push, in a ‘make or break’ style.  As our team ascended the route in the very cold and dark night, we were divided into two groups.  The first group was focused on climbing ahead and fixing (problem solving) the remaining portion of the route and the second group was making steady progress towards the goal of reaching the top.  I climbed with my friends Aang Phurba and Lakpa Dandi Sherpa, Aang Phurba led the final steep pitches to the ridge just before the highest point on the peak.  Aang Phurba and I have climbed together many times in recent years on Mount Everest, K2, Lhotse, etc. His brother was part of my team in 2014 on Mount Everest and perished tragically during the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on April 18th that ended the climbing season for us, Aang Phurba and I have a special bond that goes beyond the singular focus of climbing.

Before reaching the summit, Lakpa Dandi and I climbed up to join Aang Phurba just below the highest point on the peak, unfurled some prayer flags and silk Khata scarves, anchoring them near the top where they would float in the breeze, then together walked the final steps to the highest point and true summit of Tharke Khang.  We could not have had a better day for climbing in the Himalayas, there was not a cloud in the sky and only a small breath of wind.  We gazed upon Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse, Mount Cho Oyu, and many other of the surrounding Himalayan peaks.  Shortly thereafter, a few of our other climbers ascended to the summit and reveled in the majesty of this spectacular mountain range on such a glorious day.  After savoring our time at the summit, we began our descent down the ridge, a series of rappels over exposed terrain, where often both sides of the ridge dropped away into nothingness. After descending around 2800′ (910m) we traversed the Nup La glacier back to our high camp and settled in for the night. Today, we awoke at 6 AM and helicoptered down to our base camp located at the Gokyo 5th lake, then continued by helicopter to Kathmandu for a celebratory dinner this evening.  It’s been somewhat of a culture shock for us today, going from isolation in a high altitude alpine zone in a remote corner of the highest mountain range on Earth, to a bustling city. We all feel very blessed to have concluded a safe climbing expedition in a beautiful mountain environment, and to now be heading home to our friends and loved ones.  For me personally, yesterday was an extra special summit day, as it was my 39th birthday and I was able to share it with friends in a spectacular place never before visited by anyone.

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Our Carstensz Pyramid team reached the summit and has now returned to Bali today, after a helicopter flight early this morning from the base camp.  The weather over the last 48 hours since we got down from the summit has been very stormy, so we were laying low at our base camp until the storm passed and the clouds and rain cleared up for a brief window to let the helicopter fly in.  Most of the kitchen and dining tents in the base camp were destroyed in the wind storm, but our personal tents held up fine throughout the storm, thanks to the great engineering from Mountain Hardwear for our Trango 3 tents!

The climb was an epic day on the tallest peak in Australasia, a rock pyramid jutting out of the surrounding jungle landscape.  We departed before dawn, climbing up the route over varying degrees of steepness on sustained slopes until we reached the summit ridge.  We then traversed the ridge to the famous “abyss” crossing, where we tip toed across a wire cable to the other side.  That wasn’t the crux, as there were a couple more challenging crossings where we literally had to leap across to the other side!  We lucked out with great weather the whole day and reached the top around 9 AM, then began the long series of rappels back down to base camp.  This has truly been an epic adventure!  We are all now on our way home after a wonderful time in Indonesia, climbing one of the world’s “7 summits“!

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Carstensz Pyramid team

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Carstensz Pyramid team

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Once the expedition gets underway, follow our progress on this real-time tracking map.

 
Hello and greetings from Timika, the island of Papua. While on standby for the last couple of days waiting for good weather to fly into the base camp of Carstensz Pyramid, we have made the most of our time here by visiting some nice restaurants and touring the town & surrounding areas.  Our climbing team is very eager to get to the mountain and begin climbing, however, we must wait for good flying conditions.  So we are playing the waiting game, keeping our spirits up, and anticipating with positive hopes for a flight in the next day or two.  As soon as we are able to fly to the base camp we will be poised to make our climb of the famed Carstensz Pyramid rock wall!

Once the expedition gets underway, follow our progress on this real-time tracking map.

Greetings from the town of Timika, on the Island of Papua.  We arrived yesterday here from Bali and went to the immigration office to get our permits.  Then we enjoyed some nice dinner here before checking our equipment and preparing for today’s helicopter flight to Carstensz Pyramid, assuming good weather and flyable conditions.  We will fly about 45 minutes over the jungle to the base camp at about 14,000′, and once there plan to settle into our base camp.  We are very excited to get to the mountain and start climbing!

Our 2017 Carstensz Pyramid expedition team is departing North America tomorrow to head to Bali, and from there to the Island of Papua to begin our climb of this fabled peak.

Carstensz Pyramid, as one of the most exotic climbing objectives in the “7 Summits”, is located in Western Papua and is comprised of limestone which rises abruptly from the surrounding rainforest. The highest point on Australasia, this very remote peak is an engaging challenge both in getting to the base of the climb and also in the ascent itself!  Not many climbers venture to this mysterious and unfrequented mountain, that has glaciers surrounding the rock pyramid that towers above the jungle below.

Our ascent will involve a classic rock climb along with some very intriguing cultural experiences along the way, a journey through unknown landscapes in a remote part of the world, and of course a notable achievement in reaching the top of this exotic peak.  This uncommon adventure will surely challenge us as climbers and explorers, but the rewards for venturing into this obscure region will surely be well worth the arduous journey!  Myself, along with 2 good climbing friends will be arriving in Bali on October 11th, and then we hope to reach the island of Papua on October 13th or 14th, from there the real adventure begins!

Once the expedition gets underway, follow our progress on this real-time tracking map.

 

-Garrett Madison

Carstensz Pyramid expedition team

It’s autumn season now and we are excited to announce our plans to attempt a magnificent unclimbed peak in the northern region of Nepal. This approximately 22,000+’ peak is unclimbed, so we will be making the first attempt to climb to the summit.  People often ask, how did you put together such an expedition?  Without having records of others to utilize, we have done careful and lengthy research to identify this peak, and planned how we can best make a safe and successful attempt to reach the top.  We have sourced the necessary equipment & supplies, planned a trekking route to access the base of the mountain, and scouted possible routes to the summit (with Google Earth).  We also have obtained permission from the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal to climb this peak, and organized the logistics of trekking to the base with all of our team and supplies.  All of the effort required to put together such an expedition is a lot more complicated and time consuming than a more ‘standard’ peak, such as Everest, or the “7 Summits“, where vast amounts of information exist to understand how one would plan such endeavors, as well as detailed information regarding the route.  In the spirit of exploration and discovering new frontiers, we have taken upon ourselves the challenge of venturing into the unknown!  We have prepared ourselves the best we can in our physical fitness, technical climbing, and understanding of what may lay ahead, but ultimately we don’t know what we will find up high on this mountain, we do know that we will be challenged!

Why, you may ask, have we not publicly identified the name of this peak?  Well, the answer is that we are aware of other climbers currently on the hunt for unclimbed peaks in Nepal, who want very much to claim a ‘first ascent’ of a virgin peak, so we have deliberately kept the name a secret.   Last year, I had shared detailed information regarding our 2016 Unclimbed Peak project in the Nepal Gokyo region, and when we had to delay our expedition, one of the individuals I had shared the specifics with decided to go about climbing it on her own, and was successful.  I’m happy for her that she succeeded in accomplishing her goal and did so safely.  Obviously, every individual has the right to pursue their own path in life and in climbing, however, I was a bit disappointed that after all of our research, planning, and anticipation, that I had let this peak slip away simply because I assumed that those I shared the information with in confidence would not use it to their advantage to climb the peak before we did.

Our 2017 ‘first ascent’ expedition team is comprised of 6 very experienced mountaineers led by Sid Pattison and myself, along with a few of our most trusted climbing Sherpas from Nepal.  All of our team has extensive experience climbing in the Himalayas and at high altitude, most have already reached the top of Everest.  We plan to begin trekking from the small village of Lukla in late October and reach our base camp by the end of the month, where we then will begin making forays up onto the steep ridglines of this high altitude alpine objective.  We will be tracking our route from the beginning of the trek to the summit with GPS using a Garmin InReach, so you can follow our daily progress here on our dispatch page.  Below is a Google Earth image of the peak.

For information regarding our first ascent expedition on this unclimbed peak, please contact our office.

To ‘Higher Places’! -Garrett Madison

 

The Madison Mountaineering Climb for Conservation team reached the top of Kilimanjaro yesterday with 100% success, all 12 members stood on the summit with amazing views over Tanzania!  Not only did we climb the highest mountain in Africa, we climbed for conservation to raise awareness and funds for the critically endangered Rhinos of Tanzania.  The team raised close to $10,000 with the non-profit Climb for Conservation to be donated to the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary.  Before the climb, the team spent a day visiting the Sanctuary.  We look forward to more climbs for conservation in the future!

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Conservation Kilimanjaro summits

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Yesterday our Climb for Conservation Kilimanjaro team met in Moshe and is making final preparations for our trek up Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro 19,340′. This climb is a fundraiser for the non profit Climb for Conservation, so we made a trip to the Rhino sanctuary just a couple of hours away to observe a few Rhinos and other animals in their native habitat.  After our day trip to see the Rhinos we returned to our hotel and completed a gear check and then had a team dinner.

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Conservation Kilimanjaro

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Conservation Kilimanjaro

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The Madison Mountaineering Mont Blanc team summitted August 18th with 100% success! All 11 clients & 5 guides made the top with clear conditions and only a little wind. We climbed from the Cosmiques hut near the Aguille du Mide top station, and over Mont Blanc du Tacul and then Mont Maudit before reaching the summit of Mont Blanc, known as the ‘traverse’ or ‘triple summits’ route. We descended the Gouter route, some of us staying in the Gouter hut and some staying in the Tete Rousse hut, then made our way back to Chamonix, for a celebration lunch! We are very happy with our success, great weather and climbing conditions we had here in France on the ‘Mont Blanc‘! Thanks so much to our amazing climbers, as well as our fantastic guide team for making this climb a great one!

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Mont Blanc summit success

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Mont Blanc summit success

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Mont Blanc summit success

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 Mont Blanc summit success