Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd spent the day exploring vast glaciated slopes on Mount Vinson. With crampons and fixed lines our team reviewed the crucial skills that will be used in the upcoming summit push. Camp 1 has been established and fortified to endure the elements, keeping our team warm and safe tonight. Garrett and team continue to enjoy the adventure of exploring Antarctica as they make their way up Mount Vinson. Weather has been stable today and forecasts predict the same tomorrow. The climate on Mount Vinson is generally controlled by the polar ice cap’s high-pressure system, creating predominantly stable conditions but, as in any polar climate, high winds and snowfall do occur quickly. Tomorrow our team plans to do a carry of gear up to Camp 2. To the top!

Interesting fact:  In 1961, the Vinson Massif was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, for Carl G. Vinson, a Georgia congressman for his support for Antarctic exploration.

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Thursday, December 3

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Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd ventured out from Camp 1 and enjoyed the spectacular glacier views around them!

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Breathtaking NASA image of Vinson Massif from space! The limited amount of snow that falls on Vinson Massif compacts and is transformed into ice, forming the glaciers our team is climbing on.

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With a change in weather, Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have successfully made the ascent to Camp 1 at 9,154 feet! After two days at Vinson Base Camp, the team was very excited to push onward. Garrett and team made the eight hour push through cold and breezy conditions before arriving at Camp 1. Other than the wind, todays weather report on Mount Vinson was clear and sunny. Quickly after arriving the team set up camp and started warming up with a hot dinner prepared by Garrett.

Tomorrow our team will enjoy a rest day and let their bodies recover and continue to acclimatize to todays elevation gain. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd will work together tomorrow to develop a strategy for reaching Camp 2, with factors including weather and overall route conditions. Everyone is doing well and in high spirit!

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Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Wednesday, December 2

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Climbing across glaciated slopes on Mount Vinson.

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Looks pretty similar to “The Wall” from Game of Thrones! This gorgeous shot was take during the ascent to Camp 1. Onward!

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Antarctica’s Mount Vinson base camp population is beginning to grow as multiple teams wait for the heavy winds and below freezing temperatures to pass. Winds today were recorded at 30 knots, or roughly 35 mph, with the temperature down to -20 degrees fahrenheit. Beyond the weather, the team had a very productive day. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd worked together to fortify their tents by creating snow bricks of sort, then creating a wall to deflect the wind. Afterward, Garrett and team enjoyed an exploratory climb to a local peak in the Ellsworth Mountains. The team is doing well and enjoying the opportunity to spend time on this secluded continent.

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

Note: It appears that the weather conditions or the connection with the satellites breaks up the call for the first 5-10 seconds. After this time the quality improves.

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Tuesday, December 1

Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd battled sustained heavy winds with gusts of over 50 mph rolling across the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains today. This weather related rest day allowed the team to finalize gear bags and enjoy warm meals together while avoiding the harshest of arctic conditions. With any luck the wind will subside in the morning and allow the team to push onward. Garrett and team are situated at just over 7,000 feet based on our most recent data and will be pushing to 9,100 depending on tomorrow’s weather conditions. Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd are doing great and are excited for the next push. Today’s breakfast and lunch menu sounded delicious 🙂  The team is staying well fed under Garrett’s watch!

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

Monday, November 30th.

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Base Camp on Mount Vinson at 7,000ft.

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Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains.

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Blue bird day!

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Today our climbing team in Antarctica spent the day settling into Base Camp on Vinson Massif and prepared for the ascent to Camp 1 in the coming days. Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd woke up to a breakfast feast this morning, including pancakes, eggs, and bacon! Garrett’s mountain culinary skills are some of the best on the mountains 🙂  After a delicious breakfast the team did a quick ascent and strategically moved food, gear, and other personal items further up the mountain in preparation for the team’s push to Camp 1. The team is now waiting on the weather conditions for tomorrow before determining the days agenda. Depending on the wind and temperature, our climbing team may spend another night in Base Camp. Our team has a exciting opportunity to interact with other Antarctic explorers as well as scientists doing meaningful research in their fields while they make their journey across the frozen continent. To the top!

This article written on Mashable shares additional photos of Thrusday’s historic Boeing 757 landing on the blue-ice runway.

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

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Unloading gear and setting up base camp on Vinson Massif.

 

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Camp 1 on Vinson Massif

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Beautiful shot of the Ellsworth Mountains from Base Camp.

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Summit in sight at 4,892 m (16,050 ft)!

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DHC-6 Twin Otter near Mount Vinson Base Camp.

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Today our climbing team in Antarctica spent the day settling into Base Camp on Vinson Massif and prepared for the ascent to Camp 1 in the coming days. Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd woke up to a breakfast feast this morning, including pancakes, eggs, and bacon! Garrett’s mountain culinary skills are some of the best on the mountains 🙂  After a delicious breakfast the team did a quick ascent and strategically moved food, gear, and other personal items further up the mountain in preparation for the team’s push to Camp 1. The team is now waiting on the weather conditions for tomorrow before determining the days agenda. Depending on the wind and temperature, our climbing team may spend another night in Base Camp. Our team has a exciting opportunity to interact with other Antarctic explorers as well as scientists doing meaningful research in their fields while they make their journey across the frozen continent. To the top!

This article written on Mashable shares additional photos of Thrusday’s historic Boeing 757 landing on the blue-ice runway.

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

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Unloading gear and setting up base camp on Vinson Massif.

 

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Camp 1 on Vinson Massif

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Beautiful shot of the Ellsworth Mountains from Base Camp.

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Summit in sight at 4,892 m (16,050 ft)!

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DHC-6 Twin Otter near Mount Vinson Base Camp.

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Greetings from Mount Vinson Base Camp, Antarctica! Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have flown safely from Union Glacier Camp to base camp today. The team enjoyed a crystal clear day while preparing their gear for departure. From a Douglas DC3 in Union Glacier Camp, the team made the quick flight to a closer staging area near Vinson Massif. After which they boarded a DHC-6 Twin Otter that transported the team closer to the mountain. The day was sunny and provided spectacular views of the Ellsworth Mountains for our team. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd worked together to build a large snow wall to protect their camp from the expected 50mph winds tomorrow. After setting up camp our team enjoyed a delicious dinner of pork chops and settled in for the night. Tomorrow the team will review rope travel, ice axe arrest, and crevasse rescue techniques in preparation for the next push to Camp 1. Onward!

Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader

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Our team’s arrival into Union Glacier Camp on the first ever 757. Business class seats all the way to Antarctica! Photo captured by: Adventure Network International.

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Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica.

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Beautiful photo on this sunny day!!

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Douglas DC3 at Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica.

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Union Glacier Camp Tent

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Union Glacier Camp with the Ellsworth Mountains behind.

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Gorgeous shot of Union Glacier Camp!!

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Our climbing team preparing for the ascent!

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Visual of Antarctica. North is straight up. Images by Google Earth.

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Visual representation of our climbing team’s flight travels today. Starting below at Union Glacier Camp our team flew up to Vinson Massif base camp. Images by Google Earth.

 

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Congratulations to our Ecuador Volcanoes team for their successful Whymper Peak Summit today at 6,268 m (20,564 ft)!! Luke, Zack and Estalin have reached the summit of Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest peak! Chimborazo’s location along the earth’s equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center (aka closest to the sun). This challenging climb with many technical challenges provided spectacular views across the many glaciated peaks in the Andes mountain range. Today on this crystal clear day, we could see Colombia in the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Our team is now back in Quito where they enjoyed their celebration dinner. Estalin, Luke and Zack are enjoying their last couple days in the capital city of Quito, experiencing the rich culture and beautiful Spanish colonial architecture.

Thank you Estalin Valladolid for the beautiful photos across Ecuador and great leadership throughout! Cheers team!

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Luke and Zack starting to walk to Base Camp Stubel near Chimborazo.

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Rise and shine! Alpine start on Chimborazo summit day.

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Luke and Zack on their final push to the summit of Chimborazo!

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Last steps to the summit of Chimborazo, in the background you can see Veintimilla Summit at 6,230 m (20,440 ft).

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Whymper summit at 6,268 m (20,564 ft) In the back on the right you can see Cotopaxi!

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Cloud layers rolling in over Luke and Zack.

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Descending from Veintimilla Summit at 6,230 m (20,440 ft).

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Descending from the summit of Whymper peak, the background Ilinizas,  Cotopaxi, Cayambe and Antizana.

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After the summit of Chimborazo, Luke Zack, and Estalin eating rabbit and guinea pig in Quito.

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Our Vinson Massif climbing team took the first Boeing 757 ride to Union Glacier, Antarctica! This was a huge upgrade in comfort compared to years past in the Ilyushin IL76-TD, we enjoyed business class seating on the way to blue-ice runway in Antarctica. This Boeing 757 flight was taken on to prove the feasibility of landing commercial passenger airliners at Union Glacier, Antarctica. This is a part of a larger project into the use of such aircraft for continued Antarctic operations. We are now preparing our gear and getting ready to fly again tomorrow. We will fly via twin otter aircraft 45 minutes to Vinson Base Camp where be begin our climb.

Check out additional photos of the 757 touching down in Union Glacier here. Our friends at Adventure Network International were able to get some awesome pictures!

For family members and friends ~ Andrew Tierney can be reached during this expedition at andrew@madisonmountaineering.com

Let the journey begin!

Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader

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Mike,Garrett, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd with boarding passes & penguins at our flight briefing in Punta Arenas. Yes, we are bringing penguins to Antarctica 🙂

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Boeing 757-200 ER preparing for takeoff from Punta Arenas!  The landing was a joint partnership between Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), Loftleidir Icelandic, and NAS Corporation Limited.

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Loading up this Boeing 757-200 ER and heading to Union Glacier! What a ride!!

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Today our Ecuador climbing team had a relaxing day on Quilotoa Lake, a water-filled caldera that is also the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The day was filled with gorgeous panoramic views and blue skies as Estalin, Luke and Zack prepare for the ascent of Chimborazo tomorrow! Tonight the team will be organizing gear and preparing for the next day’s climb to our high camp on Chimborazo. On summit day, the team will begin to climb before dawn, and reach the summit of Chimborazo (20,560ft) shortly after sunrise with good weather conditions. The summit of Chimborazo is the closest point to the sun and provides climbers a spectacular mountain top view!

Estalin Suárez Valladolid continues to share his beautiful photographs shown below of this amazing journey through Ecuador! Enjoy 🙂

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Our team waiting for lunch, Luke looks hungry!

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Luke and Zack enjoying the descent!

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Luke and Zack spending time exploring near Quilotoa Lake!

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Luke and Zack taking in the beautiful country side near Chimborazo!

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Team bonding at the lodge!

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Stunning view from Quilotoa Lake, only a day of relaxation before Chimborazo!

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A short walk up to Cerro Chalata near Chimborazo lodge.

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Summit of Cerro Chalata at (4,230 m/13,874 ft)!

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