Aconcagua 2016.01 Dispatches

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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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

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 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

Yesterday our team had a successful ascent to Camp 1 at an elevation of 16,100′ on Aconcagua following  Saturday’s carry of food and gear up the mountain. With clear skies and little to no wind our team is enjoying the beautiful weather and spectacular views. All climbers are in great condition and ready to continue the exciting climb all the way to the 22,837′ summit of the Aconcagua, also known as the ‘Stone Sentinel’.  After setting up camp Audrey, Bernd, Ginna, Linda, Walter, Peter, Weny, and Garrett enjoyed an afternoon siesta with gorgeous views to the west looking over Chile as the sun went down. The weather appears to be clear for a great shot at a successful summit in the days to come!

Tomorrow our climbing team will complete a carry to Camp 2 at an elevation of 18,00′ with the estimated summit day in 3-4 days. To the top!

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Audio dispatch from expedition leader Garrett Madison:

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Mountain life on the ascent!

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Wildlife sighting days earlier while enroute to Aconcagua! ‘South American Fox (photo by Bernd)’

South American Fox (photo by Bernd)

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Blue skies and moderate wind as our Aconcagua team makes the ascent of the highest mountain in the western hemisphere!

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Onward and upward!

2016-01-23 Descent to Basecamp

Yesterday our Aconcagua team had beautiful blue skies and no wind on the mountain and successful completed a carry to Camp 1 at an elevation of 16,100′. After moving gear and food up the mountain our team returned to base camp to rest. All is well and our team is gearing up for  a safe ascent up the mountain. To the top!

To see our teams itinerary for getting to the top visit our page here!

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Audio dispatch from expedition leader Garrett Madison:

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Beautiful weather for our climbers!

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Andes Mountain Range is a beauty!

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Climbers making their way up Aconcagua!

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Magnificent sunset on Aconcagua!

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Our climbing team in Argentina has successfully made it to Aconcagua Base Camp! After yesterday’s trek through the Relinchos Valley our climbers have a chance to enjoy the beautiful views and continue to adjust to the altitude. After a warm dinner at base camp the team enjoyed amazing company and another beautiful night on the mountain. Now resting at an elevation of 13,900′, the team will prepare for the climb to Camp 1 (16’000) tomorrow and their departure from our friendly Argentinian outfitter and staff. Winds have faded with favorable climbing conditions for the summit ascent ahead. With magnificent views of the Aconcagua Provincial Park and the surrounding Andes mountain range, Audrey, Bernd, Ginna, Linda, Walter, Peter, Weny, and Garrett have an exciting expedition ahead of them. Stay tuned on our dispatch page as we watch our Madison Mountaineering team make their way to the summit. To the top!

Fun face: Aconcagua is not just the highest mountain in South America but also the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The mountain dominates the skyline and it is visible 50+ off the coast in the Pacific Ocean on a clear day.

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Audio dispatch from expedition leader Garrett Madison:

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Rocky terrain on Aconcagua! This mountain is arguably the highest non-technical mountain in the world.

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