Dispatches

We are excited to once again be heading off to Antarctica to climb the southernmost of the Seven Summits, Mount Vinson.  The first of our two expeditions this season heads out on December 18th.  Stay tuned here for daily updates once we get underway.

By the way, it’s not too early to start making your plans to join us on Mount Vinson for the 2020/2021 season next December!  Contact our office for details.


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the teams as they make their attempts to summit the highest mountain in Antarctica 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 maps:

Expedition leader, Conan Bliss, and the team have returned to Ama Dablam base camp and Conan provides the happy news:

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)

Conan Bliss, expedition leader, checked-in today with an update on the Ama Dablam expedition:

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.

Ama Dablam base camp

Ama Dablam base camp

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.

Team arrives Lukla

Team arrives Lukla

Brook and Rick at the hanging bridges below Namche

Brook and Rick at the hanging bridges below Namche

Having a great trek and now are on the Namche cappuchino tour

Having a great trek and now are on the Namche cappuchino tour

Ama Dablam team - Brook, Conan, Rick

Ama Dablam team – Brook, Conan, Rick

Ama Dablam

Ama Dablam

First glimpse of the Ama Dablam

First glimpse of the Ama Dablam

Ama Dablam team checking out the Tengboche Monastery en route to Pangboche

Ama Dablam team checking out the Tengboche Monastery en route to Pangboche


Also follow the team on Instagram:  @MadisonMtng

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:

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