September 2014

Makalu Puja

Yesterday we went for an acclimatization hike up to 19,000′ and found a good location for our advanced base camp on the South-East Ridge route. The hiking was mostly on rock and scree and we reached the snowy ridge line where we took a break before heading down.

Today we had our Puja ceremony in base camp. We built a small stone altar and burned juniper at it’s base; asking the mountain for safe passage. This ceremony is an essential part of any Himalayan climbing expedition in Nepal or Tibet and sometimes Pakistan as well, depending on who is on the climbing team. Now that we have completed this important ceremony we can begin climbing the mountain.

Tomorrow, our plan is to rest and organize equipment, then the following day move up to our advanced base camp (ABC) to spend a night or two to begin acclimatizing.

Garrett Madison

Makalu Base Camp

After six days of trekking over approximately 80 miles have finally reached Makalu base camp! We are very excited to be here, as we can now settle into our new home here for a few weeks. At just under 16,000 ft, we are now above the clouds and rain that were present for much of our journey to base camp. Awaking for the first time to sun shine, and a view of the mountain, as well as the glistening peaks surrounding, deserves a moment of pause as we consider the challenge before us. Today we are enjoying hot showers, drying our gear, and organizing camp.

Camped nearby are a well provisioned team of British climbers, and further up the glacier moraine a small team of Slovenian climbers. It’s a very peaceful and scenic place to call home. After dinner last night we watched the film Top Gun, selected by our Nepali staff who really enjoyed the action scenes with fighter jets.

We will spend a few days in base camp, taking short hikes to acclimate, before heading up to the higher camps. We plan to have our Puja ceremony in the next few days as well. All is good for our team, and we look forward to checking in again soon!

– Garrett Madison

Garrett called in the following dispatch via satellite phone:

Hi! This is Garrett Madison calling in for Madison Mountaineering Makalu expedition. Today is Friday, September 26th and we are trekking from Yangle Kharka to Makalu base camp. We are excited to finally get to base camp later today. It has been a beautiful trek, up through the river valley. A little bit of rain and clouds at times, but we hear that base camp is in the sun. So we are looking forward to reaching base camp and to have some nice views of the mountain. We are doing great and right on schedule. So everything is going well and we will check in again soon!

Makalu RainOn track

Starting out in foggy conditions, the team was hoping for clearing skies as today’s segment of the trek to base camp was posed to offer the first views of Makalu. Continuing to climb the ridge to the Shipton La high pass at 4145m / 13,600 ft. they passed Thulo Pokhari lake [third party photo] before making camp at Mumbuk (3900m / 12,800 ft.).

Tomorrow’s segment will drop down into the Barun river valley and turn west towards base camp for the final two days of trekking. Once the team reaches base camp they will setup our satellite data modem and hopefully be able to upload some pictures of the beautiful scenery in this remote area of Nepal.

Stay tuned!

Seduwa to Tashigaon map

Hi, this is Garrett Madison calling in for Madison Mountaineering Makalu expedition. Today is Tuesday, September 23rd and we are currently in the village of Tashigaon and trekking up toward Khongma today. We’ve been trekking for two days now, this is our third day. We’ve gone through the jungle, along the river valley and looking forward to getting up on the ridge soon where we can have a view of Makalu. It’s been a very exciting trek being the only foreigners here at this time in the valley, but we’ve had wonderful company from the locals, enjoyed the tea house experience, great food along the way and just enjoying a peaceful serenity here of the Fall. All is well and we’ll check in again soon.

Num to Seduwa map

After flying from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar and then travelling 32 miles overland by jeep to the village of Num, the team finally hit the trail. Today’s first segment of the trek to base camp started with a 2,400 ft. downhill hike to bottom of a river valley, cross the river and then a swift 2 mile climb back up 2,900 ft. to the village of Seduwa (1646m / 5,400 ft.).

Over the course of the next three days, the team will trek to a high pass of 4237m / 13,900 ft. before descending into Barun River valley to spend a few more days trekking up to base camp at 4630m / 15,190 ft.

We just arrived in Tumlingtar, after a short 35 minute flight from Kathmandu! Today we will stay in Khadbari, in the hotel MISS U! Then early tomorrow we will buy some fresh food at the local market for our trek, and drive about 5 hours to Num. From here we will be on foot for 5 days on the way to base camp.

Photo: the runway at Tumlingtar after unloading the plane.


Last day in Kathmandu, enjoying the Yak & Yeti courtyard. Tomorrow we hope to fly to Tumlingtar!

– Garrett

Elevation = 4,346.59 ft.   Location = (27.711531, 85.320340)


The Madison Mountaineering team is assembled in Kathmandu, Nepal, for our third 8000 meter climbing expedition in the last six months.  After a turbulent spring on Everest, then a highly successful climb of K2, we have set our sights on the South East ridge of Makalu 27,770’ (8463m), a technical route climbed by only a handful of elite climbers.

Makalu joins our 8000 guided climbs programs and we are now accepting applications for our 2015 dates: August 31 – October 12.

Rather than attempting the standard 8000 meter peaks in the autumn season such as Cho Oyu or Manaslu, we decided to challenge ourselves with a bigger and more difficult objective.  Our chance of reaching the summit is low compared to the ‘standard’ 8000 meter climbs, however the opportunity for exploration and immersion in untrodden high altitude alpine conditions is vast.  Along the way we are excited to discover the people and landscape of the Makalu region in Nepal, and learn the route as we go.  We will fly from Kathmandu to the small mountain village of Tumlingtar, then drive by jeep for one day to the village of Num where we begin the trek to base camp.

We will be posting regular dispatches to this Makalu 2014 expedition dispatch page with text, audio, real-time RainOn expedition tracking, and photos during our journey.  Stay Tuned!

-Garrett Madison

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