Author: garrett_madison

We’ve wrapped up our Everest expedition for the 2019 autumn season, and everyone is heading home. There were no summits of Everest this season by our team or any of the teams attempting the peak. We had the good fortune to connect with some of the world’s best high-altitude climbers & skiers alongside us this season. However, the conditions were such that we’ve all accepted the Mountain was not in a safe enough condition to make a reasonable attempt. Among others, I had the pleasure of spending time this season with Kilian Jornet, who is likely the world’s best high altitude climber, Andrezj Bargiel, who is likely the world’s best high altitude skier, and Tim Emmett who is one of the world’s best all-around climbers.

This ‘post-monsoon’ autumn season on 8000m peaks was a tough one. The monsoon came late and was very heavy, significant amounts of snowfall continued to accumulate daily throughout the time we were on Everest, rather than the typically drier weather of September.

Despite the unusually inclement weather making the overall conditions more challenging, after establishing the route to Camp 1 we discovered a large Serac (ice cliff) that was precariously hanging above the icefall route, on the way from base camp to camp 1. After studying the Serac by drone footage, we determined that when this Serac fell it would obliterate a large portion of the route, a wide area of the route was in danger with no way to avoid this section. None of the teams present, except for Kilian, were willing to take the risk of climbing through this section. Kilian can move very quickly and independently, so he could justify going through this area.

We continued to wait patiently in base camp for the Serac to fall, thereby making the route safe & reasonable for us. However, that day never came. Although the Serac looked more precarious each day, it never broke off while we waited. Eventually, all of the teams decided that they were running out of time and had to call off their expedition plans. Kilian did make one great attempt and reached 8300m on Everest before deciding the deep and unstable snow was too risky for an avalanche. His recap is here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3RjuN6nHZV/

I stayed with our Nepal team and held out hope that the Serac would fall and allow us to climb until October 6th, when it became apparent that we were out of time. Even if the Serac came down the next day, it would take us more than two weeks to mobilize our team and make an attempt under best-case circumstances, assuming perfect weather, route conditions, climber health and acclimatization, etc., an additional two weeks past our scheduled end date for the expedition.

Everest felt like a totally different mountain this autumn as compared to my prior 12 spring Everest expeditions, due to the continued inclement weather and substantial buildup of new snow. In spring typically the weather is much nicer, and the route conditions are relatively dry, allowing for straightforward climbing.

I’m happy to say that nobody had mixed emotions about climbing under the Serac. It was plain to all of us (except Kilian) that the risk to human life was too high for us, given the precarious position of this ice cliff. Independent, professional climbers can afford, if they choose, to take high risks. However, as a professional mountain guide & expedition leader, I cannot subject my clients and staff to such risks. I appreciate how amenable our clients were in their understanding and agreement in this decision.

We came to the mountain, having prepared ourselves to make an attempt at the summit, should the opportunity present itself. However, many factors are out of our control and must all must align for us to even have a shot at the summit. This season the mountain did not present a reasonable set of conditions for us to make a viable attempt. That’s an inherent part of mountaineering, knowing that the summit is not guaranteed. I’m glad we all enjoyed our time together on this journey in the Himalayas experiencing the mountain, the Sherpa culture, and the richness of Nepal!  A special thank you to Joe Vernachio and everyone at Mountain Hardwear!

I look forward to my next opportunity on Everest in spring 2020!

Team in Pheriche

Team in Pheriche (📸: Francois Lebeau / Louder than 11)

First Ama Dablam summit of the season! Big Congratulations to Kristin Bennett, Aang Phurba Sherpa and the rest of our Sherpa team on Ama Dablam!  They pushed through tough snow conditions and fixed ropes to get to the top on October 10th around 6:00PM local time! 20 hour summit day. Way to go team!!

Kristin on Ama Dablam

Kristin on Ama Dablam

Due to the unsafe route conditions in the Khumbu Icefall, expedition leader, Garrett Madison, has today called off the expedition and has started making the preparations to pack up and head home.  Many thanks to our entire Nepal-based staff and to our climbers and trekkers – and good luck to Kristin who is making her attempt on Ama Dablam:

Hello this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedition 2019.

 

Well, The Serac is still up there and despite the decent weather, we are going to call off the Everest Expedition.  Even if The Serac came down, our climbers were able to return to base camp in a few days, and we had perfect weather and route conditions to climb, it would take us over two weeks beyond our orginial end date to climb the mountain.  So, we are going to conclude the dispatches for the expedition.

 

Everyone is safely off the mountain at this time and we’re looking forward to Everest Spring 2020!  All the other teams have gone home, climbers are off the mountain and I’m the last one here.  Looking forward to great season next spring.  Thanks!

Kristin and Aang Phurba approaching Ama Dablam

Kristin and Aang Phurba approaching Ama Dablam

Autumn Everest Base Camp

Autumn Everest Base Camp


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, reports that the great weather is continuing at Everest base camp:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedition here in Nepal.  Today is October 5th.  Great day here at Everest base camp — sunny day, great views, nice people around.

 

The Serac is still up there so we’re not heading up the mountian anytime soon.  Everyone’s doing well and we’ll check in soon.  Thanks.


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, and team are still hanging tight at Everest Base Camp, waiting to see who will blink first, the team or the massive ice serac that continues to precariously hang over the Khumbu Icefall:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedtion.  Today is October 4th.  It’s a beautiful day here in Everest base camp – the Sun is out!

 

We have our fingers crossed that the serac comes down and we can give it a climb.  But, for the time being, we are just hanging tight so we don’t feel that it is safe to climb up with the serac looming over the Icefall.

 

Everyone’s doing well and a beautiful day here in Nepal.  We are just thankful to be enjoying this great weather.  We’ll check-in soon.  Thanks!

The sun rises above Everest base camp

The sun rises above Everest base camp

Everest pokes its head out

Everest pokes its head out


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, reports in on another nice weather day at Everest base camp and still waiting on that hanging serac…

Hello, this is Garrett Madison calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedition here.  Today is October 3rd and the weather’s great here in Everest base camp — nice view of the mountains.  Everyone’s doing well and we’re just waiting and watching to see if the serac will come down.

 

Fingers crossed for more good weather.  All’s well here at Everest base camp.  We’ll check in soon!  Thanks.


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Under nice weather at EBC, expedition leader, Garrett Madison, reports in about today’s relaxing day visiting with friends:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedition.  Today is October 2nd.  A sunny day here in base camp and just hanging out, enjoying the nice weather, organizing camp a bit, and we had a few friends and visitors swing by.  So lots of happy, smiling faces!

 

Fingers crossed, hoping the serac is going to come down in the next couple of days.  Everything’s going well here.  We’ll check-in soon.  Thanks!

Prayer flags and Nuptse behind from Everest base camp (📸: Philip Preiter)

Prayer flags and Nuptse behind from Everest base camp (📸: Philip Preiter)

Everest in the distance

Everest in the distance

Guests in our base camp: Philip and Carole

Guests in our base camp: Philip and Carole

Sunny skies over EBC

Sunny skies over EBC


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Finally today there was some sunny weather at Everest Base Camp.  Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, reports on the weather, the route, and the team member status in today’s expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Mount Everest Expedtion – Autumn Season 2019.  Today was a sunny day!  Finally the sun came out – it was beautiful.

 

Kristin is doing well; she’s in Pheriche on her way to Pangboche tomorrow, heading towards Ama Dablam for an attempt on Ama Dablam with our team.  Zac is back in Kathmandu.  Our friend Kilian Jornet is up at Camp 1. He is spending a couple of nights up there.  We’ll see what his plans are, but he’s doing well.

 

We’re still waiting and watching the serac hoping it’s gonna come down and clear the way for a safe route up through the icefall.  Meanwhile, we are looking forward to more sunny weather, hopefully in the future.  All’s well here at Everest Base Camp!

Our Sherpa team in EBC today - we had some sunshine!

Our Sherpa team in EBC today – we had some sunshine! (and a little bit of thumb 😀).  Everybody decked out in their Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody jackets.

Our Nepal team in their Mountain Hardwear down suits

Our Nepal team in their Mountain Hardwear down suits


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, and the climbing team headed down to Gorak Shep for lunch today under the continuing snowy conditions.  Here’s Garrett’s update:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedition.  Today is September 29th.

 

Another snowy, cloudy day in base camp.  Woke up to a few inches of snow and it kept snowing throughout the day.  Myself, Kristin, and Zac hiked down to Gorak Shep this afternoon where we saw some friends – Kilian and company – and then Zac and Kristin along with one of our sherpas and porters headed down to Pheriche for the night.

 

I’m back in Everest base camp and hopefully we’ll have some good weather tomorrow.  All’s well here!

With Kilian and team at Gorak Shep

With Kilian and team at Gorak Shep


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

On a snowy day at Everest Base Camp, expedition leader, Garrett Madison, has this daily report:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Autumn Everest Expedition.  Today is September 28th and we had a rest day in base camp as it snowed outside all day and fairly cloudy.

 

We were very happy to see our friend Kilian Jornet and his friend Carlos come into our camp for a few hours this afternoon and have lunch with us.  Kilian’s just back from Namche and planning on heading up in a few days, weather pending.

 

We heard a big boom today in the icefall, it might have been the serac that we’ve been waiting to break loose and fall down.  We won’t know until we get a good view when the weather clears up in a day or two.

 

But, we’re doing great here in base camp.  Everyone’s doing well and just enjoying being here at Everest Base Camp.

[photo above:  One week ago at our Camp 1 looking up at Lhotse (📸: Kilian Jornet)]

Recent photo of the serac approximately 1 kilometer above the central portion of the Khumbu Icefall (📸: Andrezj Bargiel)

Recent photo of the serac approximately 1 kilometer above the central portion of the Khumbu Icefall (📸: Andrezj Bargiel)


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the team as they trek to Everest Base Camp and then make their attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

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