The first ascent attempts on unclimbed peaks in Nepal

Our unclimbed peak expedition team checks in from high camp as they prepare for a summit push tonight. Everyone is doing well and the snow conditions are looking great on Tharke Khang.

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Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

Our unclimbed peak expedition team is now in base camp, preparing to make a recon up to the peak to scout the potential climbing route. Our peak, Tharke Khang, looks to have a ridge line beginning from the west that appears climbable, with steep snow and ice slopes. Our base camp is comfortable with a heated dining tent and great food!

Garrett

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peak expedition

We made our from Machermo up the valley to the village of Gokyo, situated next to a beautiful aqua marine lake. After lunch a few of us hiked up nearby Gokyo Ri, at just over 17,500’. We glimpsed our unclimbed peak in the distance, still a long way off…with major challenges between us and the start of the route, about 10 miles of glacier moraine and glacier/ icefall. This will not be an easy walk to say the least…accessing the base of the route is one thing, climbing the technical ridge is another.

Exploration in essence is venturing into the unknown… and that is exactly where we are headed.

Our team is good, everyone is acclimatizing well. The weather has been favorable and we hope this trend continues. We look forward to reaching our base camp the next day or two.

Garrett Madison

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Tham Serku peak

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Ama Dablam

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Trekking through the high country towards base camp

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First view of the unclimbed peak, Tharke Khang

Machermo

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At the top of Gokyo Ri today, 17,500′

Machermo

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The village of Gokyo, at 15,600′ high in the Himalayas where we are staying

Machermo

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At one of the Gokyo lakes today

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Our head Sherpa, Aang Phurba

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Stairway to heaven

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Old chorton (in Sherpa language) means stupa

 

The Unclimbed Peak expedition team is approaching the mountain. We are trekking up the beautiful Khumbu Valley in Nepal past the iconic villages of Namche (Capital of the Khumbu), Khumjung, and soon Gokyo. Our climbers are all anticipating the moment when we pass Gokyo and can first glimpse this virgin peak. The idea of embarking on a journey where we don’t know what will lay in store for us is part of the excitement we share as every day we make our way closer to the mountain. Lead guide Sid Pattison assisted by my myself is overseeing the schedule as we push our way up the valley. The team is feeling psyched and happy to be on the move after a rest and acclimatization day in Namche drinking coffee and eating pastries.

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Unclimbed

Namche Bazaar! Despite the flights, the time in Kathmandu and the preparation, for me it always takes until Namche to start feel like we are moving forward. Yesterday we trekked from Phakding to Namche under a low cloud ceiling keeping it nice and cool. Arriving around 2 in the afternoon we all had time to wander the narrow streets and relax at the beautiful Panorama Lodge. This morning we woke up, ate breakfast and took a nice acclimatization hike up to the Everest View hotel. There we took in stunning views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and the crown jewel of the Himalaya, Ama Dablam, our objective after our unclimbed peak. Now back at the Panorama, we eat lunch, rest and prepare to head off towards Khumjung in the morning. The team is healthy, strong and psyched to get moving!

Sid Pattison

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Namche is the main trading center and hub for the Khumbu region with many Nepalese officials, a police check, post and a bank

Namche

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Namche

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Team lunch with Ama Damblam in the background

Greetings from Lukla! We made it! After a couple of days of preparation in Kathmandu, today we boarded our Dornier aircraft and landed on Lukla. With most of our bags accounted for we are about to start off towards Phakding for the night. The crew is well rested, healthy and excited about finally being on our way to our unclimbed peak.

The Himalayan giants greeted us on arrival!

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Lukla

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unclimbed peak

It’s autumn season now and we are excited to announce our plans to attempt a magnificent unclimbed peak in the northern region of Nepal. This approximately 22,000+’ peak is unclimbed, so we will be making the first attempt to climb to the summit.  People often ask, how did you put together such an expedition?  Without having records of others to utilize, we have done careful and lengthy research to identify this peak, and planned how we can best make a safe and successful attempt to reach the top.  We have sourced the necessary equipment & supplies, planned a trekking route to access the base of the mountain, and scouted possible routes to the summit (with Google Earth).  We also have obtained permission from the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal to climb this peak, and organized the logistics of trekking to the base with all of our team and supplies.  All of the effort required to put together such an expedition is a lot more complicated and time consuming than a more ‘standard’ peak, such as Everest, or the “7 Summits“, where vast amounts of information exist to understand how one would plan such endeavors, as well as detailed information regarding the route.  In the spirit of exploration and discovering new frontiers, we have taken upon ourselves the challenge of venturing into the unknown!  We have prepared ourselves the best we can in our physical fitness, technical climbing, and understanding of what may lay ahead, but ultimately we don’t know what we will find up high on this mountain, we do know that we will be challenged!

Why, you may ask, have we not publicly identified the name of this peak?  Well, the answer is that we are aware of other climbers currently on the hunt for unclimbed peaks in Nepal, who want very much to claim a ‘first ascent’ of a virgin peak, so we have deliberately kept the name a secret.   Last year, I had shared detailed information regarding our 2016 Unclimbed Peak project in the Nepal Gokyo region, and when we had to delay our expedition, one of the individuals I had shared the specifics with decided to go about climbing it on her own, and was successful.  I’m happy for her that she succeeded in accomplishing her goal and did so safely.  Obviously, every individual has the right to pursue their own path in life and in climbing, however, I was a bit disappointed that after all of our research, planning, and anticipation, that I had let this peak slip away simply because I assumed that those I shared the information with in confidence would not use it to their advantage to climb the peak before we did.

Our 2017 ‘first ascent’ expedition team is comprised of 6 very experienced mountaineers led by Sid Pattison and myself, along with a few of our most trusted climbing Sherpas from Nepal.  All of our team has extensive experience climbing in the Himalayas and at high altitude, most have already reached the top of Everest.  We plan to begin trekking from the small village of Lukla in late October and reach our base camp by the end of the month, where we then will begin making forays up onto the steep ridglines of this high altitude alpine objective.  We will be tracking our route from the beginning of the trek to the summit with GPS using a Garmin InReach, so you can follow our daily progress here on our dispatch page.  Below is a Google Earth image of the peak.

For information regarding our first ascent expedition on this unclimbed peak, please contact our office.

To ‘Higher Places’! -Garrett Madison

 

The climbing team is safely back in Kathmandu, Nepal! We had a wonderful dinner last night and today we are sorting equipment and preparing to head home to the USA. It’s been a wonderful trip with amazing people. On November 10th we climbed to within about 100 feet of the summit of Burke Khang (22,935 feet), and did not feel that the snow cornice at the top was stable enough to climb upon, so we ‘almost’ summitted the peak. We are calling this expedition a success, because even though we did not make it to the very top of the peak, we climbed 99% of the mountain and decided to turn back because of a potential safety risk involving unstable snow at the top. All of the climbers had a great time and did not suffer any injuries, and we are much better friends after an enjoyable month together. To climb on a virgin peak was an incredible experience that will never be forgotten. The trek into base camp was spectacular, and from there to our Advanced Base Camp and up to our high camps was very challenging, with incredible views of Mount Everest. The snow and ice slopes involved sustained climbing at around 60-70 degrees. We were the only team in the area, so it was a true exploration of the mountain and surrounding peaks. We plan to return again next year for another ‘first ascent’ of an unclimbed peak in Nepal, please contact us if you would like to know more!

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Team photo at the Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal:
Team in Kathmandu after the climb

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Final team dinner back in Kathmandu! Till next time!:Team at lunch

The Madison Mountaineering climbing team had a safe descent to Lukla airport by helicopter yesterday afternoon. Our climbing team decided to take a helicopter back to Lukla instead of the long trek down on foot. Everyone is in good condition and ready to relax and reflect on this exploratory expedition once back home. The climbing team will be picked up by plane and flown back to Kathmandu where the journey began. We will have a final dispatch written by Garrett Madison that reflects on this expedition of a lifetime in the near future.

If you have a few minutes, check out this article by CNN that discusses the physical attributes that make Sherpas superhuman mountaineers. An integral part of our high altitude expeditions is the assistance from our Sherpa family. Many thanks and continued companionship!

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Photos below were taken by Sid Pattison and Garrett Madison, enjoy!

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Sunset on Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse from our Camp 2. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Throwing duffels on the helicopter pad before heading back to Lukla. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Sorting gear at advanced base camp. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Sid Pattison on the descent! Photo by Garrett Madison.

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Sid Pattison enjoying the view of a lifetime! Photo by Garrett Madison

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Looking across from Camp 2. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Keeping it safe with fixed lines. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Helicopter arriving at Camp 1. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Hanging out with our sherpas at our high point, the corniced snow ridge just below the summit. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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Base Camp with prayer flags. Photo by Sid Pattison.

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After yesterday’s exciting summit attempt, the Madison Mountaineering climbing team is safely trekking their way back down the mountain. Once the team is back at advanced base camp, expedition leader Garrett Madison will schedule a helicopter pickup which will transport the team to Lukla airport. From here the team will be ready to take a flight back to Kathmandu where the journey began! This expedition has been nothing short of an epic adventure that pioneered a unclimbed peak in the Himalayan mountain range of Nepal. With over 100 peaks being recently opened up for climbing, I can safely say that the Madison Mountaineering team will be back in 2016 to continue to explore these unchartered lands.

Beautiful photos shared by expedition leader Garrett Madison of the Burke Khang descent and yesterday’s summit attempt are shown below!

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Afternoon view of Everest & Lhotse from Burke Khang:

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Climbing access pitch to summit ridge on Burke Khang:

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The snow corniced ridge just below summit of Burke Khang:

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Packing up at camp 2, just below the summit ridge of Burke Khang:

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Climbing in the early AM from Camp 1 toward the summit of Burke Khang:

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Climbing up from Camp 1 to Camp 2 on Burke Khang:

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Dawn, before sunrise with Everest, moon above on Burke Khang:

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