Vinson 2015 Dispatches

Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have taken-off from the blue ice runway and successfully bring to an end their Vinson Massif expedition. In three weeks our climbers have traversed the earth’s southernmost continent, scaled polar glaciers across the Sentinel Range, and summited one of the world’s 7 Summits. Our team was a part of aviation history the moment they touched down on the first Boeing 757 in Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica. In total, our tour team traveled the skies on a Boeing 757, Russian Ilyushin Il-76, DHC-6 Twin Otter, and a Douglas DC3. Pretty impressive!

Congratulations to Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd for reaching new high’s, I hope the journey is onward and upward for all. Enjoy the photos taken by Garrett Madison below 🙂

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”
― David McCullough Jr.

Thanks for following!

-Andrew

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About to leave Antarctica on the Ilushin 76.

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Building snow walls to fortify our tents, Todd carrying a big snow block.

Building snow walls to fortify our tents, Todd carrying a big snow block

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Climbing the fixed ropes, Michael in front, Sam behind.

Climbing the fixed ropes, Michael in front, Sam behind

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Climbing the fixed ropes.

Climbing the fixed ropes

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Good times in the cook tent, Inaki & Mike.

Good times in the cook tent, Inaki & Mike

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Onboard the twin otter leaving Vinson Base Camp, MIchael, Sam, Todd, Inaki, Garrett.

Onboard the twin otter leaving Vinson Base Camp, MIchael, Sam, Todd, Inaki, Garrett

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Our MH Trango Tents holding up well in Antarctica!

Our MH Trango Tents holding up well in Antarctica

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Our MH Trango tents holding up well on the mountain.

Our MH Trango tents holding up well on the mountain

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Sam cooking french fries!

Sam cooking french fries

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Team at base camp, Garrett, Mike, Todd, Sam, Inaki

Team at base camp, Garrett, Mike, Todd, Sam, Inaki

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Team at Vinson Base Camp.

Team at Vinson Base Camp

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Team on the summit, Garrett, Todd, Michael, Sam!

Team on the summit, Garrett, Todd, Michael, Sam

 

Yesterday Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd had the opportunity to interact with other Antarctic explorers as well as scientists doing meaningful research in their fields at Union Glacier Camp. Enjoying a few days of R&R as this journey of a lifetime comes to an end. Warm meals and cold drinks with lots of really nice people from around the world. Tomorrow we plan to fly out on the Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft back to Punta Arenas, Chile. The team is doing well and will check in tomorrow before take-off!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Friday, December 11th

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Union Glacier Camp

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Google Maps image showing key locations.

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Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd are safely off Mt. Vinson and arrived in Union Glacier Camp after a quick ride on a Twin Otter today. It is located in the Heritage Range in the Ellsworth Mountains, on Union Glacier. Today they descended from Camp 2 to Vinson Base Camp after the weather conditions improved. After the flight to Union Glacier Camp the team enjoyed a nice warm dinner. The camp is positioned near Union Glacier Blue-Ice Runway that allows our flight out on a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft back to Chile. The team is doing really well and enjoyed an extra 4 nights on Mt. Vinson with 5o knot winds and -50 to -70 degree temperatures, but had a fun time staying warm with a complete success on the expedition.

Great job team!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Thursday December 10

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Center of Union Glacier Camp

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Over the past four days our Mount Vinson climbing team has been pinned by high winds on the mountain. With gail force winds reaching over 50 knots, Garrett and team have decided to wait out the weather and enjoy an extended stay on the tallest mountain in Antarctica. Currently Garrett and team have the whole mountain to themselves, as they are the only team on the mountain the last four days. Shoutout to Mountain Hardwear for the field tested Trango 3 expedition tent for withstanding these conditions over the past four days. Our team has also put to use the extremely warm Ghost -40 degree F sleeping bags which have kept our team nice and cozy throughout the day. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have plenty of food and fuel and are making the most of their adventure of a lifetime. Tomorrow the forecast is calling for reduced winds down to 25 knots, which will allow our team to make the descent down to Vinson Base Camp. Onward!

For family and friends of the climbers, I can be reached at any point in regard to this expedition at andrew@madisonmountaineering.com

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Wednesday, December 9

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Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 expedition tents at High Camp on Mount Vinson, keeping our team warm and safe!

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Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd took a rest day at high camp after their summit ascent yesterday. The team had a beautiful summit day with gorgeous views and no wind, allowing the whole team to make it to the top. Once Garrett and team arrived back at Camp 2 the winds picked up considerably and the team decided to enjoy a rest day instead of making the descent with high winds. Depending on tomorrow’s conditions the team will climb down to Mt. Vinson base camp, but could end up staying 2-3 additional days in order to make a safe descent. Our team has plenty of food and fuel and will be checking in tomorrow!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Monday, December 7

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Beautiful view of Antarctica yesterday!

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Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd reached the summit of Antarctica at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft). With clear skies our team enjoyed spectacular 360 degree views! A truly “magical” experience. Mount Vinson is more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the South Pole, making it the most remote of the Seven Summits. It was also the last discovered, last climbed, and last named of the Seven Summits. Mount Vinson is named for U.S. Representative Carl Vinson of Georgia, who served in Congress from 1935 to 1961 and was the former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was a influential lobbyist for government funding of American exploration in Antarctica. After an early morning summit push, Garrett and team were able to make it to the summit and enjoy the stabilized weather conditions which the team took advantage of. Now resting at Camp 2 with moderate winds, the team is preparing for tomorrows continued descent toward Union Glacier Camp.

Great job team!!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Sunday, December 6

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Garrett and team approaching the highest peak in Antarctica, at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft)!

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Summit of Mount Vinson!

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Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd are currently climbing to the summit of Antarctica! Mount Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica, at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft). It lies in the north part of Vinson Massif’s summit plateau in the south portion of the main ridge of the Sentinel Range. Yesterday our climbing team set up Camp 2 as their staging point for the summit push. Waking up at 7am Garrett and team prepared to depart for the summit. Weather reports show terrific weather conditions and clear skies for our team. To the top!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Sunday, December 6

 

The team enjoyed bright, clear, and sunny conditions on the Branscomb Glacier today! This beautiful  antarctic glacier flows west from the north-west side of Vinson Massif into Nimitz Glacier, in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd made use of the change in weather conditions and continued the ascent up Mount Vinson. Temperatures have increased considerably which allowed our team to enjoy the scenery in the near 24 hours of sunshine! Garrett and team safely traversed the fixed lines and transported gear up to the top of the Branscomb Glacier in preparation for moving to Camp 2 tomorrow. After a successful day, our climbing team enjoyed salmon, pork chops, french fries and vegetables. Eating well and storing up high quality energy for the upcoming summit push! Garrett and team plan to climb to Camp 2 tomorrow and make a summit push in 2-3 days depending on the upcoming weather conditions. Forecasts show for low winds and warmer temperatures. To the top!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Friday, December 4

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Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd successfully executed a carry up the Branscomb Glacier. Tomorrow the team will climb back up the fixed lines and set up Camp 2!

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Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd spent the day exploring vast glaciated slopes on Mount Vinson. With crampons and fixed lines our team reviewed the crucial skills that will be used in the upcoming summit push. Camp 1 has been established and fortified to endure the elements, keeping our team warm and safe tonight. Garrett and team continue to enjoy the adventure of exploring Antarctica as they make their way up Mount Vinson. Weather has been stable today and forecasts predict the same tomorrow. The climate on Mount Vinson is generally controlled by the polar ice cap’s high-pressure system, creating predominantly stable conditions but, as in any polar climate, high winds and snowfall do occur quickly. Tomorrow our team plans to do a carry of gear up to Camp 2. To the top!

Interesting fact:  In 1961, the Vinson Massif was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, for Carl G. Vinson, a Georgia congressman for his support for Antarctic exploration.

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Thursday, December 3

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Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd ventured out from Camp 1 and enjoyed the spectacular glacier views around them!

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Breathtaking NASA image of Vinson Massif from space! The limited amount of snow that falls on Vinson Massif compacts and is transformed into ice, forming the glaciers our team is climbing on.

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With a change in weather, Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have successfully made the ascent to Camp 1 at 9,154 feet! After two days at Vinson Base Camp, the team was very excited to push onward. Garrett and team made the eight hour push through cold and breezy conditions before arriving at Camp 1. Other than the wind, todays weather report on Mount Vinson was clear and sunny. Quickly after arriving the team set up camp and started warming up with a hot dinner prepared by Garrett.

Tomorrow our team will enjoy a rest day and let their bodies recover and continue to acclimatize to todays elevation gain. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd will work together tomorrow to develop a strategy for reaching Camp 2, with factors including weather and overall route conditions. Everyone is doing well and in high spirit!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Wednesday, December 2

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Climbing across glaciated slopes on Mount Vinson.

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Looks pretty similar to “The Wall” from Game of Thrones! This gorgeous shot was take during the ascent to Camp 1. Onward!

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