Tag: expedition

Our Antarctica expedition team has safely made the ascent to Camp 1 on Mt. Vinson in the Ellsworth mountain range. Mt. Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica, approx. 600 miles from the South Pole and over 1,200 miles from the beginning of the Antarctic Peninsula. Garrett Madison reports beautiful conditions and a strong team as they move up the mountain. Today our climbers will either have a rest day or complete a carry of supplies and food up higher on the mountain. All is well in Antarctica and our climbers will check in soon!

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Ellsworth mountain range

Our Mount Vinson climbers left Punta Arenas, Chile and have now arrived to Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica. The Union Glacier Camp is a seasonally occupied research and expedition staging site located in Ellsworth Land in Antarctica. The camp is located in the Heritage Range, south of the Ellsworth Mountains.

Garrett Madison checks in below after a night flight into Union Glacier Camp. The team will now organize their equipment before flying over to Mount Vinson in a couple hours. Our climbers plan to move up to low camp after a couple days of training with favorable weather conditions in the forecasts.

Happy New Years!  : )

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Mount Vinson climbers

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

 
The Carstensz Pyramid expedition team made it to Bali yesterday and we’ve been preparing for our flight to Timika on the Island of Papua very early tomorrow.  Bali is a fine tourist destination indeed, and a great “base” for us to operate our Carstensz Pyramid program from.

Bali is an Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. The island is home to religious sites such as cliffside Uluwatu Temple. To the south, the beachside city of Kuta has lively bars, while Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are popular resort towns. The island is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats.

Once we arrive in Timika we will transfer to the hotel and then check in with the immigration department for clearance, then the next morning our plan is to fly by helicopter to Carstensz Pyramid base camp.  Upon arrival at base camp we will settle in and go for an acclimatization hike to the base of the route.  Assuming the weather is decent, we may go for the summit on October 15th, but we have a few extra days just in case!  We are very much looking forward to this rock climbing objective at 16,000 feet!

About 145,000 people on the Indonesian island of Bali have left their homes around Mount Agung, a volcano that is showing signs it could erupt, officials said on Friday.The 9,944-foot volcano, the highest mountain on Bali, last erupted in the early 1960s

Garden features in our hotel

Carstensz Pyramid expedition

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Flora and Fauna in Bali. Bali has an interesting collection of animal and plant life. The rice terraces are the most common sight everyday in Bali, particularly in the heavily populated and extravagantly fertile south. Balinese gardens are a delight.

Carstensz Pyramid expedition

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A jukung or canoe also known as cadik is a small wooden Indonesian outrigger canoe. It is a traditional fishing boat in this region.

Carstensz Pyramid expedition

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

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Today private guides Brent and Geoff moved up to Camp 3 with climbers John and Anders in three hours. The route conditions and weather made for a quick ascent. Tomorrow they will depart at 8am and continue the ascent to Camp 4 and prepare for their summit push on Everest and Lhotse. We are excited to have our team in summit position and will be up all night here at base camp to monitor their progress.

Our main team spent today resting at Camp 2 and will move up to Camp 3 early tomorrow morning. Mountain winds are expected to decrease and allow our climbers to be well positioned for clear summit days on Everest and Lhotse. The weather has been clear and sunny the past few days with little to no precipitation. All of our high camps have been stocked with oxygen and supplies by our strong Sherpa team.

To the top!

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Beautiful weather at Camp 2 today

Camp 3

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Moving between Camp 1 and 2

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Our Mount Everest and Lhotse summit rotation has launched! At 2am this morning our climbing team departed Everest base camp and began the ascent though the Khumbu Icefall. Now resting at Camp 2, our entire team will rest and prepare for the next move to Camp 3. Weather forecasts are predicting for increased wind over the next couple says so we will hold till the conditions settle down. We are all in good spirits and health and excited to continue our journey to the top of the world.

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Celebratory photo with our Ghurka neighbors! 

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Relaxing in our dining tent the evening before taking off on our summit rotation

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Happy Birthday Ellen!!

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Anders, Brent, Geoff and John taking off for Camp 2

Lhotse summit rotation

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Yesterday, 2 of our top fixing Sherpas in partnership with the British-Gurkha team (Sherpas and Nepali climbers) were able to reach the summit around 2:15 PM.  We are very happy that our plan succeeded, and now climbers will begin making attempts on the peak.  Our 2 Sherpas who aided in the rope fixing effort today are Lakpa Dandi and Tashi Sherpa, 2 of the 7 rope fixing Sherpas to reach the summit.

As we are now in the final phase of our Mount Everest expedition, our sights are set on climbing to the summit of the world’s highest peak, and for some of us after that also climbing to the top of the world’s 4th highest peak, Lhotse.  We have completed our acclimatization rotations on Everest, reaching Camp 3 and spending several nights at Camp 2 (21,300’) on each of our rotations. Our Sherpa team has stocked all of our high camps with essential equipment for our climb including tents, oxygen cylinders, food, etc.  We are now well rested after spending the last week in base camp or down in Namche at the comfortable Panorama lodge.  We are now waiting in base camp for a favorable weather forecast.

The current weather models show that high winds will arrive over Everest in the next day or two, so we will wait until these winds pass before making our summit attempt. Some teams may try to summit in the next day or shortly after, we prefer to wait for a better forecast before making out attempt. Our main team hopes to be ready to climb on the tail end of this wind event, perhaps as early as May 22nd if the winds do indeed drop down by then.

Currently we are all resting in base camp and passing the time watching films, reading books, going for short hikes, occasional camp maintenance projects, reviewing our climbing kit and oxygen systems, and of course coming together as a team for meal times in our dining tent.  We will continue to monitor the weather forecasts, and hopefully begin our summit attempt in a few days time, stay tuned!

Garrett Madison

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Rope fixing Sherpas

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Our Everest 2017 summit rotation is preparing to launch! Weather and route fixing conditions are clearing up as we load the high camps with oxygen and supplies. Over the past couple days we have enjoyed a few rest days at base camp. Some of our climbers have ventured off on day hikes around EBC or up toward Pumori. Today the weather was overcast with snowfall for most of the day. Conan (guide) will be helicoptering back up with John as the weather clears after spending a few days in Namche. We are all excited to start this next rotation and make our summit push. Stay tuned!

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Camp 1 looking back toward Pumori

Everest 2017 summit rotation

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Camp 2 looking up toward the Lhotse face

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Evening shot at EBC

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Happy team at Camp 2 on their second rotation 

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Audrey and Garrett enjoying the beautiful views at Camp 2!

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Making the ascent between Camp 1 and 2

Everest 2017 summit rotation

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Alina and Sid testing out their Mountain Hardwear down suits 

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Today we received news that the summit Sherpa fixing team will be descending down to base camp due to weather delays. With this information, guides Brent and Geoff made the descent to base camp this afternoon with Anders and John. Arriving back into base camp early evening. It is now being discussed among the main expedition teams at base camp that summit fixing will commence on the 16th and 17th based on current weather forecasts. Our guides and expedition leaders are pushing for as early a fixing as possible.

Now that the majority of the team is back at base camp we will enjoy some rest and relaxation together. Tomorrow morning our team in Namche will be helicoptering back to base camp after spending 4 nights at the Paradise Lodge. Arriving back to base camp this afternoon, Conan John and Allan will be boarding the same helicopter from base camp and travel down to Namche for a few days.  All team members are going to take advantage of a few personal days before summit rotation. Right now it sounds like the team will move up on the night of the 13th toward the summit. Variables such as changing weather forecasts and the fixing of both Mount Everest and Lhotse will determine when the team takes off.

Over the next few days the weather forecasts are calling for snow and light winds. We have been watching movies and enjoying the company of the many fascinating people here on Everest this season. Life is good!

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Dinner was on fire!

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summit Sherpa fixing

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summit Sherpa fixing

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summit Sherpa fixing