Tag: summit

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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On November 3rd our unclimbed peak expedition team reached the Tharke Khang summit! Garrett Madison checks in via satellite phone and reports beautiful conditions with views of surrounding peaks in the Himalayas. Our climbers will now descend to high camp to eat and rest up. Nice work team!

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Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

On July 12th we were blessed with near perfect weather and climbing conditions when we reached Mount Elbrus North Summit in Russia, the highest peak in all of Europe at 18,506′, and one of the ‘seven summits’ on Earth.  David, Matthew, and myself began our climb from our high camp at 11 PM on July 11th, as the elevation gain from high camp to the summit of Mount Elbrus is 6,200′, a big summit day!  With a slight breeze we made our way up the glaciated slopes of Mount Elbrus in the dark using our headlamps, up to Lenz Rocks at 15,000′, then onward up the glacier to the saddle which is in between the East and West (highest) summits of Mount Elbrus.  We continued on up the West summit to the highest point in all of Europe at 9:30 AM, had unobstructed views as far as the eye can see, it was truly a magnificent day.  We then descended back down and reached our high camp in the early afternoon.  The following day we descended back down to base camp where we had a nice dinner and shower and slept in our comfortable cabin.  Yesterday we drove from the base camp on Mount Elbrus back to the town of Pyatigorsk and had a celebration dinner, now we are heading to St. Petersburg for some sightseeing and then home.  It has been a wonderful trip!

Note: This was a ‘North Side’ climb of Mount Elbrus, whereas our regular and other recent programs on are on the ‘South Side’ of Mount Elbrus.  Madison Mountaineering has led successful expeditions on both sides of Mount Elbrus, and as a boutique mountaineering guide service we strive to develop customer expeditions for intrepid climbers!

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Photos:

Garrett and Matthew gazing at Mount Elbrus from the hotel in Pyatigorsk

Mount Elbrus North Summit

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Summit selfie at the top of Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus North Summit

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Garrett and our driver Yuri enjoying dinner in base camp

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Matthew and David on the approach to high camp

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Matthew and David on the summit of Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus North Summit

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Watching the sun rise from up high on the glaciated slopes of Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus North Summit

 

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David and Matthew descending from high camp after a successful summit of Mount Elbrus!

Mount Elbrus North Summit

Mount Elbrus north route summit!! Congratulations to our team of climbers for making a safe and successfully ascent of the tallest mountain in Europe. Listen to our audio dispatch below, Garrett Madison checking in after reaching the summit with David and Matthew. Photos and complete expedition recap will be posted shortly. Onward and upward!

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Minutes ago the first 2017 Mount Everest summits were made by a group of climbing Sherpa’s. This team included two of our best climbing Sherpa’s that were chosen to fix the ropes to the summit. Lakpa Dandi and Tashi were among seven climbing Sherpa’s that fixed the summit route. Now that the route to the summit is fixed we will start to see climber summits as early as tomorrow morning.

Our team is holding at base camp as high winds will be hitting the mountain over the next 1-2 days. Based on current weather forecasts we are looking to move up to our high camps by Wednesday. Stay tuned!

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2017 Mount Everest summits

Yesterday we left Mount Vinson base camp in the morning and flew by twin otter aircraft to Union Glacier camp, where we waited just a short time until the Ilushin 76 aircraft flew us to Punta Arenas, arriving late in the evening. Currently all members are in Punta Arenas or are enroute home. We have enjoyed 3 spectacular weeks in Antarctica, skiing to the South Pole and then climbing the highest peak on the continent, Mount Vinson, at just over 16,000 feet in elevation. Everyone on our team succeeded in both reaching the South Pole and reaching the summit of Mount Vinson.  This has been an awesome journey, a great way to start off 2017! We look forward to repeating this program next season in Antarctica!

Garrett Madison 

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Union Glacier Camp

Mt. Vinson Summit

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Union Glacier Camp

Antarctica Expedition Team 2017

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Union Glacier Camp

Descent on Mount Vinson

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Union Glacier Camp

Joel Schauer on the summit of Mount Vinson!

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Union Glacier Camp

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Union Glacier Camp

Hi, this is Garrett Madison calling in for the Mount Vinson climbing expedition. Today is January 19 and today we came from high camp down to Vinson base camp. We had a nice day, it was cloudy some light snow but not windy. Everyone did great coming down from high camp to low camp and all the way to base camp. Had a big meal hamburgers, pasta and a little champagne to toast our successful climb. Now we are just hanging out at base camp getting ready to go to sleep and waiting for a flight back to Union Glacier hopefully tomorrow. Then onward back to Chile and home. We have had a wonderful expedition we are down safe to base camp just waiting for a airplane to fly back to union glacier camp then a jet back to Chile. We will check in soon. Thanks.

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Mount Vinson climbing expedition

Mount Vinson climbing expedition

Hello, this is Garrett Madison with the Mount Vinson expedition. Today is January 17th and we are at the summit of Mount Vinson! Beautiful day up here, got the summit all to ourselves. We are the only team up here on the mountain on high camp. And we are going to savor the top here for 45 minutes, take a few photos and then head on down to high camp and spend the night. Everyone did great today worked hard, and just a glorious day up here blue skies. Views of the Sentinel range, Ellsworth mountains, Tyree, Shinn and just a spectacular day up here, we will check in soon. Thanks.

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Mount Vinson expedition

To celebrate our successful Aconcagua expedition, we concluded with a team dinner, an Argentinean ‘Asado’ barbecue with a selection of meat and vegetables cooked to perfection over the open fire. All team members are now on their way home, after what has been a wonderful experience.  We were very lucky with the weather, as our summit day on December 19th was perfect without any wind or clouds.  Since then, the weather has deteriorated and the other teams have not been able to summit, let alone go much higher above base camp because of the high winds.  This is typical of Aconcagua and the southern Andes, where storms can pass through and prevent climbing high on the peak for up to a week at a time.  As a recap, we did the ‘Aconcagua 360’ route, trekking in the less traveled Vacas valley to Plaza Argentina base camp, then utilizing 3 high camps before reaching the summit, and then descending to the other side of the mountain to the Plaza Mulas base amp, and trekking out the shorter and more popular Horcones valley.  We enjoyed a night before and after the expedition at the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes with our good friend Steve Allen, who does a fantastic job of managing the hotel, a rustic ski lodge in the winter that becomes a haven for Aconcagua climbers during the summer climbing season.  A couple of nights at the Park Hyatt in Mendoza made our stay very comfortable, a great way to begin and end our time together in Argentina.  We have had a fantastic time, enjoying the experience of climbing the highest peak in the Andes (and also in the Americas) as well and immersing ourselves in Argentine culture and cuisine.  Onward, to the next mountain adventure!   – Garrett Madison

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Kilimanjaro weather can be great, weather on mountains can also not be great. As we tried to sleep in our tents in preparation of our 11pm wake up for our summit bid, our tents folded like tacos in the wind and sounded like chip bags with snow and hail. Needless to say, I don’t think anybody slept. We got up, ate a light breakfast and started our ascent. About 5 inches of new snow had fallen overnight and the wind had increased, we climbed higher and higher in the dark bucking a serious wind, steady and unrelenting. By around 5:15AM we stood at Stella Point, the bulk of the climbing below us the sun rose and illuminated Africa and the clouds below. We made the final stroll to the summit and at 6:40AM we all celebrated. The descent was straightforward if not muddy due to the melting snow and the wind had abated. We were in high spirits as we strolled back into camp until we saw what remained of much of our camp. The winds throughout the night had taken their toll on our cook tent, our dining tent and our porters sleeping tent leaving them destroyed. What would generally be a celebratory lunch turned into a rush to pack and head down the mountain. As the icy winds began again we hurriedly packed our gear and hightailed it down the mountain. After a 4 hour hike we finally got to relax at McKay high camp where we are, drank water and tea and slept like baby rhinos.
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The last day of any trip is bitter sweet. On one handed we long for cold beer, new food and hot showers while on the other we have to leave a place we have given so much for. We came out here and climbed the mountain and the trip is over. Now we all go back to our lives and have the memories and pictures. This was on all of our minds as we hiked the 10 kilometer hike out to the gate, through the rain forest we saw more birds and monkeys than we could count. We arrived at the gate to our team singing and dancing and congratulating us on a great climb. We feasted on a fantastic buffet lunch, thanked our staff, said goodbye then loaded up in the van back to the hotel. We are all sad to be going home, but psyched for the pool.
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