Burke Khang 2015 Dispatches

The climbing team is safely back in Kathmandu, Nepal! We had a wonderful dinner last night and today we are sorting equipment and preparing to head home to the USA. It’s been a wonderful trip with amazing people. On November 10th we climbed to within about 100 feet of the summit of Burke Khang (22,935 feet), and did not feel that the snow cornice at the top was stable enough to climb upon, so we ‘almost’ summitted the peak. We are calling this expedition a success, because even though we did not make it to the very top of the peak, we climbed 99% of the mountain and decided to turn back because of a potential safety risk involving unstable snow at the top. All of the climbers had a great time and did not suffer any injuries, and we are much better friends after an enjoyable month together. To climb on a virgin peak was an incredible experience that will never be forgotten. The trek into base camp was spectacular, and from there to our Advanced Base Camp and up to our high camps was very challenging, with incredible views of Mount Everest. The snow and ice slopes involved sustained climbing at around 60-70 degrees. We were the only team in the area, so it was a true exploration of the mountain and surrounding peaks. We plan to return again next year for another ‘first ascent’ of an unclimbed peak in Nepal, please contact us if you would like to know more!

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Team photo at the Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal:
Team in Kathmandu after the climb

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Final team dinner back in Kathmandu! Till next time!:Team at lunch

The Madison Mountaineering climbing team had a safe descent to Lukla airport by helicopter yesterday afternoon. Our climbing team decided to take a helicopter back to Lukla instead of the long trek down on foot. Everyone is in good condition and ready to relax and reflect on this exploratory expedition once back home. The climbing team will be picked up by plane and flown back to Kathmandu where the journey began. We will have a final dispatch written by Garrett Madison that reflects on this expedition of a lifetime in the near future.

If you have a few minutes, check out this article by CNN that discusses the physical attributes that make Sherpas superhuman mountaineers. An integral part of our high altitude expeditions is the assistance from our Sherpa family. Many thanks and continued companionship!

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Photos below were taken by Sid Pattison and Garrett Madison, enjoy!

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Sunset on Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse from our Camp 2. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Throwing duffels on the helicopter pad before heading back to Lukla. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Sorting gear at advanced base camp. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Sid Pattison on the descent! Photo by Garrett Madison.

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Sid Pattison enjoying the view of a lifetime! Photo by Garrett Madison

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Looking across from Camp 2. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Keeping it safe with fixed lines. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Helicopter arriving at Camp 1. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Hanging out with our sherpas at our high point, the corniced snow ridge just below the summit. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Base Camp with prayer flags. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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After yesterday’s exciting summit attempt, the Madison Mountaineering climbing team is safely trekking their way back down the mountain. Once the team is back at advanced base camp, expedition leader Garrett Madison will schedule a helicopter pickup which will transport the team to Lukla airport. From here the team will be ready to take a flight back to Kathmandu where the journey began! This expedition has been nothing short of an epic adventure that pioneered a unclimbed peak in the Himalayan mountain range of Nepal. With over 100 peaks being recently opened up for climbing, I can safely say that the Madison Mountaineering team will be back in 2016 to continue to explore these unchartered lands.

Beautiful photos shared by expedition leader Garrett Madison of the Burke Khang descent and yesterday’s summit attempt are shown below!

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Afternoon view of Everest & Lhotse from Burke Khang:

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Climbing access pitch to summit ridge on Burke Khang:

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The snow corniced ridge just below summit of Burke Khang:

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Packing up at camp 2, just below the summit ridge of Burke Khang:

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Climbing in the early AM from Camp 1 toward the summit of Burke Khang:

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Climbing up from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on Burke Khang:

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Dawn, before sunrise with Everest, moon above on Burke Khang:

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The Madison Mountaineering climbing team nearly summited and reached a distance within a few hundred feet of the summit. There was a rock face that was impassable and would have presented a significant risk of collapsing. The team made the smart and safe decision. They have traversed unchartered territory and went where no man has gone before. We are extremely proud of our team. It is in the morning hours and the team has a beautiful sunrise to enjoy after this incredible accomplishment. Photos to be posted shortly!!

 

Yesterday Garrett & Sid, along with four of our climbing Sherpas went up from Camp 1 to work on fixing lines to the summit ridge. This was a slow and important step as we prepare the route for our climbing teams ascent. The route from Camp 1 follows the ridge line to the right, hard climbing but without the objective hazard (icefall, avalanches) that the less steep ‘climbers left’ potential route offers. We accomplished a lot, the lines are now just a few hours from the summit. Today Bill, Sid, and Phurba Rita Sherpa are heading up from Camp 1 to put in a small Camp 2, just below the summit ridge. Our plan is for the climbers here in Camp 1 to wake up and leave around 2 AM, an ‘alpine start’ and to climb up and join the three climbers who are in Camp 2 around 6 AM, then continue together towards the summit. We still have a bit of route setting work ahead, hopefully just a few hours along the summit ridge to the top! The climbing team is ready for this ascent and our group is in good health.

 

Here we go everyone, this is what we have been waiting for! News from the mountain will be released as soon as it is received here on the dispatch page.

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View of climbing route & Burke Khang summit from Camp 1:

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The Burke Khang summit is in sight! Our climbing team has reached an altitude of 20,371 feet. Unfortunately our team mate Kathy flew out with one of our Sherpas. She was dealing with a respiratory cold and is back in Kathmandu now. She is feeling better and we are thankful that all is well. Camp One has a beautiful view and the team is preparing for the final push for the summit. Weather has been great these past few days with blue skies. Check out the photos below and stay tuned for the summit push. Updates from expedition leader Garrett Madison will be uploaded here first. Will post dispatches as quickly as possible for this final push.

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For those interested in Nepal’s new Constitution and the developing political environment, read this NY Times article.

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Check out this Youtube video for a live chat with King5 news here in Seattle, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST5M4XnBmRI

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Bill Burke Climbing to Camp One from Advanced Base Camp:

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Bill Burke Climbing to Camp One from Advanced Base Camp:

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Burke Khang Camp One at 20,371 feet:

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Beautiful photo taken by Garrett Madison while climbing!

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Climbing toward Camp one from Advanced Base Camp:

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Climbing toward Camp one from Advanced Base Camp:

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Expedition Leader Garrett Madison staying warm!

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Burke Khang Expedition Update – November 5th, 2015:

Our climbing team has made it to Burke Khang Advanced Base Camp! The team is currently sleeping at an elevation of 17,713 feet. Yesterday the team made another acclimatization hike with views of giants Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, & Nuptse, we also spied more unclimbed peaks for next year! Check out our Facebook page for additional photos and beautiful panoramas!! Tomorrow the climbing team will head onward to our Camp 1 and up the very technical route of rock, snow, and ice towards the summit of Burke Khang!

For family and friends who want to watch the summit push check out this link, it will show you a basic map view of the climbing groups location as they push toward the summit. The data is refreshed every 10 minutes. My personal suggestion for watching this historic summit push would be to download Google Earth on your device. Once you have this software downloaded shoot me an email at: andrew@madisonmountaineering.com. I will send you an email with instructions on how to view the climbing team’s progress on Google Earth. We have been working hard to develop this technology and will hopefully have this available in a mobile application in the near future.

Team before rappel practice. Left to right: Paul and Denise Fejtek, Bill Burke,                                                          Kathy Meyers, Garrett Madison , Nick Logic

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Rappel onto glacier practice:

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View of our route to advanced base camp, towards Everest:

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View from our hike yesterday, the Ngonzoma glacier:

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Pics from our hike to advanced base camp:

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Hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend! We said good bye to our trekking team that accompanied us all the way from our start in Kathmandu to our base camp here at Gokyo’s fifth lake. It was hard to say goodbye after the last ten days of trekking together in the Khumbu region of Nepal. They are now heading towards Cho La Pass and then onwards to Mount Everest base camp before returning to Lukla and then Kathmandu.
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Our climbing team organized equipment at base camp today and took a walkabout around camp, scouting the glacier we will cross when we make our move towards our advanced base camp on our summit push. Our base camp is a very beautiful setting, with a nearby lake, and high peaks on all sides. A team of our Sherpa guides along with Madison Mountaineering guide Sid Pattison left today to head to advanced base camp. Tomorrow they will work on establishing the route to camp 1, at the top of the rock buttress, the first major technical section of the climb. This climbing involves around two thousand feet of steep snow and an ice arête (description and imagery here), after which we can establish our first high camp. Everyone is doing well and we look forward to our next acclimatization hike tomorrow.
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View of glacier above camp:
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Acclimatization hike:
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View of Mount Everest from our base camp:
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Burke Khang Base Camp:
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Team exploring near base camp:
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The Madison Mountaineering expedition has safely trekked from Gokyo to our base camp near the 5th lake. Bud Allen of our climbing team elected to take a helicopter down to Lukla, as he was a little under the weather. One of our Trekkers (Jenna) went with his helicopter. It is hard that a team member returned home, but for the best as we did not want Bud’s cold to worsen and further risk his well being. Our prayers are with Bud for a quick recovery.
As the team arrived at the 5th lake and set up base camp it continued to snow.  In the festive spirit, the team gathered together for a high altitude Halloween celebration! Check out the pictures below for a glimpse of these entertaining costumes, Captain America continues to bring high spirits to the team. It has been snowing and we are preparing our gear for the first ascent. It is harder to send digital content out and we will most likely begin to post audio dispatches. As the team begins the first ascent of Burke Khang, the most up to date news will be coming out right here on our dispatch page!
Team yoga in the lodge:
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Helicopter arrival into Gokyo:
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Map of the team’s current location. Burke Khang is in the very middle.
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Team photo at Gokyo before our trek to base camp:
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Team members departing:
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Foggy morning in Gokyo before our trek to base camp:
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Burke Khang 2015 Base Camp:
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Burke Khang 2015 Base Camp:
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Burke Khang 2015 Base Camp:
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Halloween at Burke Khang!
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After receiving a kind hearted blessing from the owner of the Panorama Tea House, we trekked to Khumjung at an elevation of 12,600 ft. The team witnessed devastating destruction from the earthquake that struck Nepal earlier this year. We were thankful to meet Bill’s friend, Dr. Mingma, who gave us a tour of the school and hospital that Sir Edmund Hillary built in 1961. The school started off as a two classroom facility and now educates over 350 students. We have since continued through the beautiful Himalayan valley to Machermo, a small village in the Khumbu region among the snow capped peaks of eastern Nepal. It is nestled in the Dudh Kosi River valley at an elevation of 14,665 ft, just below the Ngozumpa glacier, the longest glacier in the Himalaya region. We are all enjoying the breathtaking views of Cho Oyu, the 6th highest peak in the world! The team is bonding very well, everyone is enjoying the spectacular views, the fresh air, friendly sherpa people, and good food! Tomorrow we will trek to the village of Gokyo, the last stop before we reach base camp. Moral is high and we are all very  excited to make it to Burke Khang Base Camp. Captain Challenge continuously brings a laugh to everyone in the group. This is a truly special group of individuals!

“Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Trekking toward Burke Khang Base Camp

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Trekking toward Burke Khang Base Camp

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Trekking toward Burke Khang Base Camp

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Garrett Madison and Bill Burke:

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Team relaxing and soaking up the sun!

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Our sherpa head guide, Ang Phurba:

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