Author: garrett_madison

Garret Madison, expedition leader, reports the exciting progress of our Mount Vinson expedition teams in Antarctica:

Hi, this is Garrett checking in for the Madison Mountaineering Mount Vinson expedition number three.  Jimmy, Fon and myself were planning to leave Union Glacier today and head to Vinson Base Camp, but Jimmy is still at the South Pole and had decided to head directly back to the U.S. as soon as he can because of the flight delay.  Myself and Fon have gone to Vinson Base Camp and are going to try to catch up with Conan, Linda, Shawn and Paul in the next couple of days.  All’s good here on Mount Vinson!


A very big congratulations to Jimmy for skiing to the South Pole and reaching 90° South!  (We wish him a) safe trip back to North America and his familiy in Texas.


We look forward to some great weather here on Mount Vinson!  We will check in soon.  Thanks!


Guide Conan Bliss’ team two (Shawn, Paul, Linda) transmission from Low Camp was, unfortunately garbled.  This happens from time to time with satellite phones.

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archive)

Reporting from High Camp on Mount Vinson, expedition leader Garrett Madison provides this update:

Hi, this is Garrett calling for the Madison Mountaineering Mount Vinson expedition.  Today on New Year’s Day, our team the Adventure Guides and Madison Mountaineering team made the summit of Mount Vinson (4892 m / 16,050 ft) [garbled].  We had a beautiful day with perfect weather.  We had the summit all to ourselves.  Now we are back in Vinson High Camp.  We are planning to head down towards Vinson Base Camp tomorrow.  All is good here and we look forward to getting down to base camp the next day!

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

Happy New Year!!!  Via sat phone, Garrett Madison reports in on the progress of team one’s climb to the highest peak at Antarctica:

Hey!  This is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Mount Vinson expedition in Antarctica.  Today is December 31st and we climbed up to High Camp (3536 m / 11,600 ft) today and moved in.  We setup our camp and had dinner and now we are all tucked in and ready for bed.


We had a good day; it wasn’t too windy, clear skies for the most part and sunny.  We are happy to be up here at High Camp.  We are thinking about going for the summit tomorrow or the next day, depending on the weather.  We will check in soon.  Thanks!!

(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives (Vinson, Jan 2018))

Expedition leader Garrett Madison phoned in this dispatch via satellite:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Mount Vinson expedition!  Today we climbed up to camp 1, “Low Camp”, from base camp.  We settled in here a few hours ago.  We had a nice dinner, some hot drinks and now we are tucked into our tents getting ready for bed.


It was a nice day!  It started off warm and sunny and then the overcast clouds kept it cool for us as we made our way up towards Low Camp.  Tomorrow our plan is to take a rest day.  Everybody on the team here is doing really well and we are happy to be on Mount Vinson!  We will check in soon.

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

From the base on Mount Vinson, expedition leader Garrett Madison provides this update via satellite phone:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering / Adventure Guides Vinson Expedition.  Today is Friday, December 28th.  We are at base camp.  We had a carry today.  We went up half way to camp 1 and deposited a load of equipment, food, and fuel and other items in a cache.  Now we are back at base camp, just having dinner.


It looks like good weather so we are planning to move up to camp 1 tomorrow.  So we are excited to be moving up the hill!  Everyone is doing well here on Mount Vinson and we’ll check in soon.  Thanks!

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

Lead guide Garrett Madison called in via sat phone with the following update:

Hi!! This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition.  We are at Vinson base camp!  We were able to fly from Union Glacier camp this evening around 6:30 PM.  We got to Vinson base camp around 7:30 PM.  We’ve set up our camp and we’re cooking some dinner.  We are looking forward to a good night’s rest.  Tomorrow we are going to do a carry up to Low Camp on Vinson.  All is well here and we’ll check in soon.  Thanks!

(photo:  © Santiago Urrutia)

Garrett and team are striking their happy poses because our first of three Vinson expeditions was rewarded for their patience with the best Christmas present ever:  a GO! for the flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier, Antarctica.

After eight days waiting for the weather at Union Glacier, the team is now headed to the airport to board the Ilyushin IL-76 TD jet for the 4-1/2 hour flight.  The extra time in Punta Arenas gave the team the opportunity to fully explore the many restaurants and cultural sights.  Somewhere along the way, they even rubbed the toe of Magellan for good luck.

It’s looking like this change in the weather will allow the schedules to start to return to normalcy.  Our second team is arriving in Punta Arenas this week.  They are scheduled to fly on to Union Glacier on January 3rd.  Some of the team may take advantage of the extra time in Chile to explore Patagonia’s Torres del Paine national park – named by National Geographic as one of the World’s most beautiful places.  Kind of a nice bonus!

Get ready to follow the action-packed Antarctica climbing season.  Stay up to date by subscribing to the dispatch updates.

Happy holidays and joyous wishes to you and yours from Madison Mountaineering!

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering archives)

Our first Mount Vinson expedition team is standing by in Punta Arenas, Chile, waiting for good weather to fly to Antarctica.

Currently, the winds on the Blue Ice Runway at Union Glacier camp are too strong for a safe landing.  So we have to wait until conditions improve before we can take off.  The climbers are all packed up and ready to go.

In the meantime, we are passing the time by enjoying the many nice Punta Arenas restaurants, museums and local experiences.  We hope to have a good weather window in the next 2 – 3 days for our flight to Antarctica.

Did you knowMount Vinson is named for Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson, the former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

This week we are kicking-off the first of our three expeditions to Antarctica, the ‘Frozen Continent’, this season!

We are excited to be leading climbers on their quest for Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, at just over 4850m / 16,000 ft. and one of the ‘Seven Summits‘!

Follow us as we begin our journey in Punta Arenas, the Southern most city in Chile located on the Strait of Magellan, to Union Glacier camp in Antarctica then on to Mount Vinson Base Camp.  Mount Vinson is the most remote of the Seven Summits and one of the least climbed.  It is however, arguably the most beautiful.  The peak is surrounded by Antarctica’s pristine ice for as far as the eye can see.  We are excited to ‘hit-the-ice’ again this year.  We hope that you will follow along with our expedition dispatches and perhaps be inspired to join us next year!

(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives) 

Our expedition has concluded, with all of our climbers making a first ascent to the summit of the previously unclimbed Nupla Khang, a 6,861 meter / 22,641 ft. virgin peak deep in the Himalayas on the border of Nepal and Tibet, near Mount Everest.

Alpine Start

We awoke in Advanced Base Camp (5,848 meters / 19,300 ft) on summit day at 1 AM on November 2nd.  Our climb began around 2 AM on the Nupla glacier to access the base of the route. Once on route we made our way up steep snow and ice, climbing terrain very similar but steeper to the Lhotse face on Mount Everest. The climbing was very arduous and because of the steep slope angle on hard snow/ice.  There was no room for error, nor any good opportunity to rest.  We witnessed a beautiful sunrise.  Mount Everest first became visible over the skyline and then the surrounding peaks lit up with morning alpenglow.

The team reached the summit ridge around 10 AM and then began fixing rope.  The precarious ridge was very firm, steep and had exposed snow with a large snow cornice overhanging. We had to be very careful to stay off the snow cornice as we made our way along the winding ridge to the highest point, where the borders of Nepal & Tibet (China) meet.

First Ascent

The first of us arrived at the top around 11:30 AM.  Luckily there was actually a small place to stand at the intersection of the 3 ridgelines.  We were happy to stand on flat ground for the first time since beginning the climb before dawn. Once at the top, we briefly celebrated the moment and the view, then began our descent; first along the ridge and then via many rappels down to the base of the route.  We were very lucky to have good weather on our summit day, with calm winds and clear skies.

What’s next?

Our team is now finished with the ‘unclimbed peak’ expedition. Some of our climbers have just arrived by helicopter in Kathmandu and are preparing to head home, while some other climbers from our team are staying in Nepal to attempt Ama Dablam, an iconic 6,812 meter / 22,349 ft. peak near Mount Everest. Ama Dablam is situated along the trekking route to Mount Everest & Everest base camp.

Currently, Sid, Josh, & Ingvild are making their way from our ‘unclimbed peak’ base camp to Ama Dablam base camp, while the rest of us have elected to helicopter from base camp back to Kathmandu, a quick and exhilarating way to exit the high Himalaya. It’s been a great expedition.  I’m very thankful for our team of climbing Sherpas who helped make this ‘first ascent’ possible. It’s been a pleasure to climb with these guys this year on Mount Everest, K2, and now on Nupla Khang, and I look forward to climbing with them again on Mount Everest next spring!

Morning view of Tharke Khang, which we were the first climbers to ascend in 2017

Morning view of Tharke Khang, which we were the first climbers to ascend in 2017

Front pointing on the Nup la Khang summit ridge

Front pointing on the Nup la Khang summit ridge

Norwegian climber Ingvild Settemsdel at the Nup la Khang summit

Norwegian climber Ingvild Settemsdel at the Nup la Khang summit

A few of our climbers at the summit of Nup la Khang yesterday (11/3/18)

A few of our climbers at the summit of Nup la Khang yesterday (11/3/18)

Flying out of the high Himalayas at over 19,000 ft. and back to Kathmandu with expert Norwegian pilot Ingmar!

Flying out of the high Himalayas at over 19,000 ft. and back to Kathmandu with expert Norwegian pilot Ingmar!

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