All Antarctica expedition dispatches

Vinson team two team photo

Our second Mount Vinson expedition team has assembled in Punta Arenas.  And they are looking forward to kicking off 2019 in style!  They rang in the new year in Chile last night and now are completing the pre-flight expedition logistics.  Today and tomorrow they will be organizing gear and attending the Antarctica flight briefing.  Hopefully, the weather continues to cooperate and the team will fly to Antarctica as scheduled on Thursday, January 3rd.

We are stoked to start off this exciting year of climbing adventures with teams on the ice in Antarctica!

Did you know:  Since 2017, the city of Punta Arenas and its region have their own time zone: they use summer time during the whole year (UTC−3).

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)

Vinson Base Camp

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)

Aerial View of Union Glacier Camp in Southern Ellsworth Mountains

Garrett Madison and our first Mt. Vinson expedition team arrived safely to Union Glacier Camp in the southern Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica.  They have been enjoying beautiful clear and calm skies in 24 hours of daylight.  Tents are up, food is excellent and the team is happily enjoying exploring the comforts of the camp.

Weather conditions at Union Glacier have vastly improved.  So the team is looking forward to flying on to Vinson Base Camp tomorrow or possibly even tonight.  Our two following teams are optimistically looking for minimal delays too.

Did you know:  Union Glacier Camp is the only facility of its kind in Antarctica. The full-service private camp operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season. The camp not only provides accommodations to guests on guided experiences but also serves as a logistics hub, supporting private expeditions and National Antarctic Programs.

(photo:  © Russ Hepburn)

Best Christmas

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)

Vinson climbing team!

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)