January 2019

Our third and final Mount Vinson expedition for 2019 got going in style today moving all the way from Union Glacier to Mount Vinson Low Camp as reported by expedition leader, Garrett Madison:

Hello this Garrett calling in for Mount Vinson expedition number three:  Garrett Madison and Jim Lumberg in collaboration with PolarExplorers!  Today we left Union Glacier camp and flew via Twin Otter aircraft to Mount Vinson base camp at 7,800 ft.  We rigged our sleds and backpacks and started climbing up to Low Camp.  It took us about five and half hours to get to Low Camp.  We arrived, pitched our tents, fired up our stoves, started melting snow for water, and cooked a great dinner.  Now we’re getting ready for bed.


Tomorrow our plan is to climb up the fixed ropes to High Camp, gaining just over 3,000 ft.  Then we will settle into High Camp around 12,400 ft. and see what the weather brings.  We are both doing well here!  It’s a beautiful day ln Mount Vinson – sunny / no wind.  We are the only ones here in camp, so we have the mountain to ourselves!  It’s really special to be here.


We will check it soon.  Thanks!

(photo:  Vinson 2019 team two from earlier this week)

Our Vinson expedition team had a big day today as reported by expedition leader, Garrett Madison:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition team number two.


Today is Friday, January 11th and we have reached Union Glacier camp!  We had a great day descending from our high camp on Mount Vinson all the way down to Vinson base camp.  And then we were picked up by a Twin Otter aircraft and flown back to Union Glacier camp where we all are now tucked into our tents and looking forward to a good night’s rest.


The team will be here at Union Glacier camp for a few days until the scheduled flight back to Punta Arenas on the Ilyushin-76 aircraft on January 14th.  So all’s well here, everybody’s doing great.  We had a wonderful summit day, again yesterday.  Everyone made it to the top and down safe and we had wonderful views of Antarctica from the highest point on the continent.


Thank so much for following along.

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

100% summit success reported by expedition leader Garrett Madison:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition team two.  Today, January 10th, our entire team made it up to the summit of Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.  We got to the top around 4:00 PM today – myself, Conan Bliss, Shawn, Fon, Linda, and Paul.  We had a great day, nice views from the top, a little breezy up there, but not too bad.  Everyone made it safe back down to High Camp.  We had a good dinner here at High Camp:  some salmon and some potatoes and noodles.


Our plan is to head down to Vinson Base Camp tomorrow, on the 11th of January.  And then, from there, hopefully soon after to Union Glacier Camp.  Everyone is doing great, we had a wonderful summit day, very thankful for the good weather and that everyone made it to the top and back down safely.  We will check-in soon.

(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives – reusing last’s year’s summit pose — we will post photo’s when the team is back in Chile)

We have received word that our team has reached The Roof of Africa:  the summit of Kilimanjaro‘s Uhuru Peak (5895 m / 19,341 ft)!!  Congratulations team!

The team checked-in after they returned from the summit to Kosovo camp.  They were packing up camp and starting the descent to Mweka camp (3075 m / 10,090 ft).  Big day!  First ascending 1025 meters of elevation to the summit and then descending a massive 2820 meters (9,252 ft) down to camp for the night.  Whew!

Tomorrow they will have the comfortable hike down to the Mweka Gate (1638 m / 5,375 ft).  Where they will arrive in time for a lunch-time celebration.  From there it’s on to a 4-day safari of the three major game parks of Tanzania:  the Tarangire, the mighty Serengeti, and the beautiful Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

As the team readies for their summit attempt, team member Linda gets the honors and provides today’s dispatch from High Camp on Mount Vinson:

Hello, this is Linda calling in from the Madison Mountaineering Vinson team two.  We had a wonderful day here at High Camp, resting, enjoying the scenery, and getting ready for our summit attempt tomorrow.  The weather looks beautiful!  We just had our summit talk and a good dinner and we are getting ready to settle in.  We are going to get up early and hopefully head to the summit tomorrow!!


Sending our love to friends and family!

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

Our Kilimanjaro team is ready for summit day!  Today they completed their eastern traverse of Kilimanjaro and climbed up to the high camp, known as Kosovo camp.  Kosovo camp is our special high camp that rarely sees use by other climbers.  It sits 210 meters above the traditional, and frequently very crowded, Barafu high camp.  Using this higher camp puts us in a position above most other climbing parties, so that our summit day is shorter and we can get out ahead of any potential crowds at the start.

By now our team should be just about ready to begin their “alpine start” in the very early morning hours.  With the right steady and slow ascent to manage the altitude, they should reach Stella Point (5750 m) just in time for a once-in-a-lifetime African sunrise.

Stay tuned for the next update!

(photo:  view of Mawenzi peak (5149 m) from Kosovo camp from the Madison Mountaineering archives)

Our Vinson team two is now at High Camp!  Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, has this exciting update:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition team number two:  Conan, Garrett, Shawn, Fon, Linda, and Paul!  Today is the eighth of January and we are up at High Camp.  We had a great day climbing from Low Camp up the steep fixed ropes to High Camp at just over 12,400 feet on Mount Vinson.  Beatiful weather today, clear skies, sunny, very calm, just a slight breeze to keep us cool on the way up so that we didn’t overheat.


Tomorrow we’re probably going to take a rest day.  We are going to sleep in and get up and see what the weather is doing.  But most likely we’ll be resting here before looking at our summit attempt in the next few days.


Everyone is doing great here on Mount Vinson and we will check in again soon.  Thanks!

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archive)

Karanga Camp!  This morning the Kilimanjaro team climbed “the Breakfast Wall” (aka the Great Barranco Wall), a nice challenge to start the day and get the body warmed up for a nice day of trekking.  The top of the Barranco Wall (4240 m / 13,911 ft) provides spectacular views of the plains far below.

From there, the team descended into the Karanga valley.  Then up a final hill to the Karanga Camp (4043 m / 13,264 ft).  Total hiking for the day was about four hours.  Everyone is doing very well and having a great time!

All of the team are excited about reaching the high camp of Kosovo (4870 m / 15,978 ft) tomorrow just above the Barafu Camp to get ready for the summit attempt on the following day!!

Today, team member Shawn provides the update from Mount Vinson!

Hi this is Shawn calling in from the Vinson two team.  We are at Low Camp and just finished our haul up to High Camp.  Linda, Paul, Shawn, Fon, Garrett and Conan are all feeling healthy, happy, stable, strong and very enthused for our move tomorrow to High Camp.  The weather has been fantastic!  We hope it stays!  The food has been out-of-this-world!!  Thank you to Fon and cordon bleu.  So we want to send our love to our family and friends at home.

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

Approaching the Lava Tower

Approaching the Lava Tower (Madison Mountaineering archives)

Our January Kilimanjaro climb kicked off a few days ago and the team is doing great and feeling strong!  They entered the National Park at the Machame Gate (1814 m / 5,950 ft) on the first day and they hiked through the tropical rain forest climate zone up to Machame camp at 3022 m (9,915 ft).  Their 4,000 ft. elevation gain crossed into the heath climate zone.  The heath zone is typically covered by heavy mists and marked with rolling meadows, heath plants, and many small wild flowers.  A fantastic start to the trek to the roof of Africa!

On the second day they continued to climb through the heath zone and into the moorlands to Shira camp (3833 m / 12,575 ft).  Yesterday was the third day of hiking and the start of the three-day west to east traverse of the mountain.  In the morning, they climbed up to the Lava Tower at 4655 m (15,272 ft) for lunch and stunning views of the Western Breach route.  In the afternoon, the team descended to Barranco camp (3981 m / 13,060 ft), where they got their first views of the Great Barranco wall – today’s crux!

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