Ama Dablam Expedition Summary: At 7:40 am on November 4th, the Madison Mountaineering team stood alone on the summit of Ama Dablam. The sky was cloudless, offering amazing 360-degree views including Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu. This was the culmination of weeks of effort, patience, and perseverance and we were fortunate with an excellent weather window. The team is back at base camp today resting and will trek out tomorrow and the following day. We would like to say special thanks to our amazing Nepali crew, both climbing Sherpas as well as our outstanding base camp crew. Thanks for following us on this epic adventure; we hope to see you in the mountains soon!
(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives)
The Ama Dablam team arrived back at BC after a successful acclimatization rotation. We stayed 2 nights at C1 and made a climb up to C2, ascending the famous Yellow Tower yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll have a rest day then plan our summit push on the 2nd, weather permitting.
Expedition leader, Conan Bliss, checks in with today’s update:
The Ama Dablam team is enjoying another training session this morning at BC. We’ll relax this afternoon and get packed for our two-night acclimatization rotation starting tomorrow (29th/30th). We’ll stay both nights at C1 and plan to climb to touch C2 on the 30th. We’ll check back in on the 31st when we are back in BC.
Expedition leader, Conan Bliss, checks in with today’s update on the Ama Dablam expedition:
The Ama Dablam team arrived at BC yesterday (October 25 – local). It was a snowy evening but clouds are breaking today. We had a fun and productive morning doing rope training. Tomorrow we’re planning an acclimatization hike to Yak Camp and will spend the next 2 nights in BC. Weather permitting we aim to climb to C1 on the 28th or 29th for two nights. Thanks for checking in.
Our autumn Ama Dablam expedition kicked off earlier this week and the team has been trekking their way up to base camp from the mountain airport village of Lukla (2860m / 9,380ft.). The first stop was the village of Monjo where they entered the Sagarmatha National Park. and from there up to Namche Bazaar where a couple of days were spent resting. On their acclimatization hikes above Namche, the team caught the first glimpses of their objective: Ama Dablam. Great hiking weather with dramatic clouds unveiling the summit. From Namche, the team pressed on to Deboche and were able to spend some time enjoying the Tengboche Monastery on their way.
Today they are now at the last village before Ama Dablam base camp, Pangboche and should be crossing the river and finishing up the trek to BC tomorrow.
Also follow the team on Instagram: @MadisonMtng
We made the most of challenging conditions last week on Mount Olympus’ Blue Glacier Route.
The trail to the route follows the milky Hoh River through the massive trees of the Hoh Rainforest for about 17 miles to Glacier Meadows campground, just below the foot of the Blue Glacier. It’s a uniquely beautiful approach, but since the Hoh Rainforest gets 12 to 14 feet of rain each year, it can also be a bit wet. We had rainy weather both days of our hike in, and for that, we all carried golf umbrellas. Maxfli isn’t a brand you often see on a mountaineering rack, but those umbrellas kept us dry each day until we climbed into our tents. For backcountry comfort, they were some of the most important gear we brought.
After all that rain, I was relieved to see stars in the sky when I stuck my head out of the tent at 1:30 a.m. We ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and hot coffee, and then hiked out of camp, over the lateral moraine on the east side of the Blue Glacier and down to the glacier at about 5,000 feet of elevation. By the time the sun was up, we had crossed the lower arm of the glacier and were climbing toward the top of the Snow Dome, a plateau at about 7,000 feet. But late-season conditions were slowing our pace. Lack of snow on the lower glacier forced us to pick our way carefully across the glacier’s deep, icy furrows. Higher up, I built a series of anchors to protect the final, steep slopes near the top of the Snow Dome. Earlier in the season, those slopes would have been covered in snow and we could have simply walked up them as a rope team. But with glacier ice exposed, it was too dangerous to ascend without belaying.
By the time we approached Crystal Pass at 7,200 feet, we were running out of time to make it to the summit. We would still have to climb and descend the final 5th class rock pitch below the summit pinnacle, but we also faced a more immediate problem – a wide bergschrund that spanned the glacier below Crystal Pass. Having climbed down into and back out of the bergschrund a week earlier, I knew we could do it safely, but I also knew it would cost us quite a bit of time. Ascending higher would have pushed us into a long summit day when nightfall and fatigue might conspire to make an accident more likely. With clouds coming in, we returned to camp, taking off our packs at our tents just before dusk.
On many climbs, the most difficult choice is when to turn around. It was disappointing not to stand on the summit of Olympus on this climb, but that was the price we paid for a lesson in decision-making, and for the experience of climbing on this remote, beautiful peak in late-season conditions when the dramatic crevasses and seracs of the Blue Glacier are most visible. We also got to practice some teamwork and rope skills as we moved through the belays on the Snow Dome. All in all, it was a valuable trip to one of Washington’s most remote and beautiful peaks.
Today the team reached Everest Base Camp (5280m/17,323ft.) around 09:43 AM UTC (2:43 AM PDT or 3:28 PM Nepal local time)!
Just arrived in EBC…the crew is psyched to be here…although it’s a little wet and cloudy. Hopefully clear skies tomorrow morning for our Puja ceremony. Everyone is doing great. The base camp set up is nice!
Today’s hike was about six hours from Lobuche (4932m/16,181ft.) including a nice lunch break at Gorak Shep (5264m/17,270ft.) before continuing on to Everest base camp (5280m/17,323ft.). Stay tuned for more dispatches as the climbing team settles into their home for the next month and begins the climbing!
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:
– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:
We began our trip early Tuesday (9/3) morning on the Boston Basin climbers trail. By that afternoon, we had reached Boston Basin and set up camp. We had just enough time to set our tent and square our equipment away when a freak hail storm struck. We took shelter from marble-sized hailstones in our tent for about 20 minutes before it turned to rain and then died away. We ate dinner and got to bed early for an early start at Sahale Peak the next day.
In the morning, we left around 6:30 AM and hiked up and right of the normal route which goes up the moraine, left of the Quien Sabe Glacier. About 500 feet below the glacier we noticed that we could traverse below the glacier and access it at a point closer to our objective instead of getting on the glacier itself and traversing across. We chose this lower traverse so we could avoid navigating most of the crevasses with this route. We cut across the talus and low angle slab to the other side and gained the glacier from there. After a few hundred feet of travel, we did not like the steepness of the terrain and turned back for camp.
The next day we tried Sahale again but from the normal route instead. After a walk up the same moraine from yesterday and a scramble up some low angle slab and loose rock, we gained the glacier once again, this time all the way on the left side of the glacier. With snow condition on our side and crevasses in manageable condition, we topped out at about 8,200 feet. We descended safely and enjoyed the rest of the day in Boston Basin.
We had the remaining day to pack up camp and descend back down the Boston Basin climbers trail and back to the car. We had a very enjoyable trip with Patrick and were thrilled to provide an excellent experience to advance his climbing skills and techniques. We can’t wait for our next adventure!
Our 2019 Mt. Rainier climb supporting the Climb for Conservation fundraiser kicked off yesterday with the initial hike up to Camp Muir (10,188 ft). Here are some shots of the day. The team is likely now headed up for a sunset summit attempt. We will post an update on their progress tomorrow! Stay tuned!!