2014 Ama Dablam expedition dispatches

Ama Dablam: Ben and Vibeke on the summit

Ben and Vibeke on the summit with Everest behind

We had a wonderful climb to the summit of Ama Dablam just a few days ago, and since then have trekked down the Khumbu Valley to Lukla, and just this morning we flew by twin otter to Kathmandu. We are very happy to be back in the city after more than six weeks in the mountains climbing Makalu and Ama Dablam.

The conditions on Ama Dablam were near perfect. Much of the route was covered in snow and made for good cramponing on our way up to the summit in the pre dawn hours of October 30th. There was little wind, and a cloudless sky that allowed amazing views from the summit of the 8000 meter peaks Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Kangchenjunga, and Cho Oyu, as well as countless other summits…

Ama Dablam: Team in base camp

The team in base camp after the climb with our Nepali staff

We descended from the summit to Camp 1 and spent the night, then continued to base camp the following day. We were fortunate to have experienced such great route conditions on the mountain, thanks to our Sherpa team that climbed with us, and our exceptional base camp staff that supported us with amazing meals throughout the expedition.

Unfortunately, this season has not been a good one for all teams on Ama Dablam, as there have been several accidents resulting in a total of 3 fatalities over the last few weeks, and one serious injury. We feel very fortunate that our climb was relatively uneventful, and we made the summit and returned without incident. Our thoughts go out to the families of the climbers who did not make it down from Ama Dablam this autumn.

We just received a sat phone call from the spectacular summit of Ama Dablam (6812m/22,349ft.). Garrett and team sounded fantastic and are enjoying a picture perfect summit day. A transcript of the call is provided below. Congratulations team!


This is Garrett Madison for the Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam expedition and we are calling from the summit of Ama Dablam! It is October 30th, 8:30am Nepal time. A beautiful day here, not a cloud in the sky, hardly a breeze here on the summit and just a glorious day. We are really excited to be up here, fantastic climb, and we are looking forward to getting back down and being back in base camp shortly. We are really luck to be up here, wonderful climb, and we are going to take our time on the descent. All is well!

Ama Dablam Camp 2

After ascending to Ama Dablam Camp 1 yesterday from base camp, earlier today Garrett and team climbed on and established Camp 2 near 6000m (19,685ft.). Ama Dablam Camp 2 is stunningly located on the cap of a rock pillar with narrowly room for just a few tents.

Weather continues to be favorable. Tomorrow the team will either press on for a summit attempt or move up to Camp 2.7 (6280m/20,600ft.). Stay tuned for live tracking!


After a few days in Ama Dablam base camp we are now ready to begin our summit attempt. We have been reviewing fixed line techniques, rappelling and have sorted our equipment and food for the high camps. The weather forecast looks good, and the recent snowfall has negligible effect on our route as it is generally follows an exposed ridge.

Today we plan to climb to camp 1, then tomorrow ascend up the southwest ridge to camp 2, then summit the following morning. We are well acclimatized and looking forward to the epic climbing along sections such as the Yellow Tower and Mushroom Ridge, as well as the spectacular views along the way. We should be able to see at least 6 of the 8000 meter peaks from the summit!

Follow along with our real-time tracking. We will post another dispatch from Camp 1 tomorrow.


This morning we flew by helicopter (a brand new AS350 B3e) from the lower Makalu base camp to Ama Dablam base camp, it was a spectacular ride! We flew right by Baruntse, and many other high peaks before swooping down into Ama Dablam base camp. As you likely know, we called off our Makalu climb due to deep snow and avalanche conditions left by the recent storm, all other teams (British & Slovenian) have also abandoned the mountain without a summit. It was tough to walk away empty handed, but definitely the right call given the existing hazards. We will be back!

After spending several weeks at the upper Makalu base camp (5650m / 18,700 ft.) and higher camps we are well acclimatized and feel great at Ama Dablam base camp which is 4600m (15,200 ft.). It’s a welcome transition from a very remote camp to a very busy one, and we have already met many friends here this morning that we have shared other peaks with recently. Our cook from the recent K2 expedition welcomed us with French Toast and fried eggs, bringing back good memories of climbing in Pakistan last July. We will likely rest a day or two, then push up the route on Ama Dablam.

The weather forecast is good, with a bit of snow this weekend, hopefully not enough to shut down the route as happened last year at this time. All is well here at Ama Dablam base camp and we are excited to climb!