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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Congratulations to Luke, Zack and Estalin for successfully making it to the Summit of Cayambe Volcano at 5,790 m (19,000 ft)! Cayambe Volcano is located in the Cordillera Central, a gorgeous range of the Ecuadorian Andes in northern Ecuador. Our climbing team came together as a team and safely pushed through the clouds all the way to the top of this Holocene compound volcano! Prior to this exciting summit push our team was able to relax and enjoy the scenic city of Otavalo surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura 4,630 m (15,190 ft) and Cotacachi 4,995 m (16,388 ft).

Now back in the city of Hacienda Guachala, the team is resting before departing for Estrella del Chimborazo Lodge at 4,000 m (13,125 ft). Estalin, Luke and Zack will organize gear and prepare for the next day’s climb to our high camp. Stay tuned!

Estalin’s photos are shared below, enjoy!

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We stopped at the monument called the Mitad del mundo (middle of the world) that is said to be the “only real” statue located right on the equator!

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The indigenous Otavaleños are famous for weaving textiles, usually made of wool (that is sometimes as black as a raven), which are sold at this famous market in Otavalo city. Luke and Zack were able to find beautiful souvenirs here!

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Luke and Zack enjoying the local cuisine in downtown Otavalo. They needed all the energy they could get before making the summit push to top of Cayambe!

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Our team stayed safe and worked together as a team to make the successful push to the summit!

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Luke, Zack and Estalin posing for a summit shot at 5,790 m (19,000 ft) on top of Cayambe!

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The Mount Vinson team is in route to rondevu in Patagonia! I’ve been here two days and have enjoyed the vibrant architecture and bustling downtown city. Punta Arenas is a departure point for many wishing to experience the Patagonia region. Today my morning walk on the Brunswick Peninsula unveiled fishermen, kayakers, longboarders and adventure photographers enjoying the beautiful sunrise across the horizon. Among the many attractions in Punta Arena, my favorites have been the monument erected on the main square to Ferdinand Magellan, the Seaside Walkway at sunrise and the renowned Dreams Casino and Hotel (pictures below). Tomorrow our team of global explorers will begin to arrive. This is my tenth expedition to the frozen continent and I’m excited as I’ve ever been. We have journeyed to el fin del mundo (“the end of the world”), and we are about to go further.

Garrett Madison  ~  Expedition Leader

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Dreams Casino and Hotel ~ they are well known for a beautiful view from the Skybar!

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Colorful houses along the waterfront in Punta Arenas. Along the water you can see the Seaside Walkway. In the horizon is the Strait of Magellan. This navigable sea route separates mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south.

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Selk’nam Patagonian Indian ~ a popular tradition says that those who kiss or touch the Indian’s toe will come back to Patagonia one day. Had to do it!

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A statue in the Plaza of Punta Arenas memorializes the nearly-vanished Yamanas tribespeople.

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Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region and is among the largest cities in the entire Patagonian Region. Patagonia is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains as well as the deserts, steppes and grasslands east of this southern portion of the Andes.

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After a good nights rest in the city of Hacienda Guachala, Luke, Zack and Estalin departed toward the mystical cloud forests of the Imbabura Volcano region. The team had a wonderful day exploring this inactive stratovolcano in northern Ecuador and successfully navigated their way to the summit at 4,630 m (15,190 ft). Imbabura Volcano has not erupted for at least 14,000 years and provides explorers a beautiful landscape to acclimatize and view the fields of ash from thousands of years ago. Luke and Zack practiced their glacier skills yesterday on the base of Cayambe and prepared for the summit push today. Stay tuned!

Estalin continues to share beautiful photos of the team’s journey through Ecuador. Enjoy! 🙂

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Luke is very happy upon reaching the summit of Imbabura Volcano!

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Quick photo as the team begins the trek toward the summit! 

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Luke putting his rock climbing skills to use, don’t look down! 

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Zack traversing his way through the rock formations on Imbabura Volcano:

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Luke smiles for the camera as he makes the last few steps to the summit!

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Summit of Imbabura at 4,630 m (15,190 ft):

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Madison Mountaineering’s 2015 Mount Vinson climbers are currently enroute to Punta Arenas, Chile! Our journey begins in the Tierra del Fuego or ‘Land of Fire’ in Chile’s southernmost city of Punta Arenas, located on the straight of Magellan. The team will gather together, have a few welcome drinks, and check equipment for before departing on this adventure of a lifetime.

Expedition leader Garrett Madison is preparing final expedition logistics as the team prepares to fly to Antarctica onboard the massive Russian Ilyushin 76 jet that is shown below. Garrett has led 9 successful expeditions to Mt. Vinson over the last 6 years. Each of these 9 climbs was successful in reaching the top of Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica. Madison Mountaineering’s approach to leading small, self sufficient teams allows us the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in Antarctica and accommodate the needs of our climbers.

Our flight from Punta Arenas to the frozen continent is currently scheduled for November 26th. Photos of Punta Arenas will be up shortly!

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The Russian Ilyushin 76 jet that we will fly from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier, Antarctica!

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Today the Madison Mountaineering team made another acclimatization climb to the summit of Ruku Pichincha Volcano at 4,698 metres (15,413 ft)! This was the teams third successful day trek as they continue to adapt to the elevation gain in the Andes. These peaks were visible from the nearby city of Quito where the expedition began. Weather today was partly cloudy with breaks in the clouds throughout the afternoon. The team is now in route to Hacienda Guachala near the town of Cayambe. This colonial town is known as the oldest hacienda (Spanish for estate) in Ecuador, with structures dating all the way back to 1580! Tomorrow the team will be making another day hike to Imbabura and continue this epic journey. Onward!

Interesting Fact about Pichincha Volcano: On May 24, 1822, General Sucre’s southern campaign in the Spanish-America war of independence, came to a climax when patriot forces defeated the Spanish colonial army on the south-east slopes of this volcano. The engagement, known as the Battle of Pichincha, secured the independence of the territories of present day Ecuador.

Beautiful photos from our expedition leader Estalin below! 🙂

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Team starting the trek to Ruku Pichincha:

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Lunch break with a pretty epic view! 

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Traversing rocky terrain:

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Luke resting before the last step to the summit:

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Last push before the summit!

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Summit of Ruku Pichincha Volcano at 4,698 metres (15,413 ft):

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Making our descent through the clouds:

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Luke enjoying the moment! 🙂 

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Yesterday our Madison Mountaineering team in Ecuador made it to the summit of Pasochoa!! Pasochoa is an extinct volcano with amazing views and is located in the Ecuadorian Andes. This initial acclimatization hike is the first of many as the team continues to adapt to the high altitude Ecuador volcanoes. At 8:30 am the team started the trek toward the summit of Pasochoa Volcano at 4,200 meters (13,860 feet). The weather was enjoyable with a few clouds throughout the day. Luke and Zack made amazing time on this first hike and trekked up and down of the mountain in four hours and sixteen minutes! The team then made their way back to the hotel for a good nights rest. Tomorrow Luke and Zack will depart the hotel and hike up Pichincha at 4,784 meters ( 15,700 feet).  Stay tuned as the expedition continues, beautiful pictures below!
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Luke and Zack starting the way up in the middle of the Andean grassland:
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Lunch break selfie 🙂

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Luke and Zack viewing the beautiful volcano crater:

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The final push to the summit of Pasochoa Volcano at 4,200 meters:

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Summit of Pasochoa volcano:

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The Madison Mountaineering Carstensz Pyramid climbing team is safely back in Bali!. We flew back to Timika in the B3 helicopter and were able to catch a fixed wing flight back to Bali. Sangeeta, Ankur, and I had a nice meal together when we got back and now we are all getting some well deserved sleep. Our expedition to Carstensz Pyramid was a success! Our first team (Joe Butler & Newall Hunter) made a quick summit of Carstensz Pyramid after arriving in base camp. What was going to be a reconnaissance turned into a summit of the peak! Then, our second group of Joe Butler, Ankur & Sangeeta made an attempt. Overall, we had a few summits, and very much enjoyed our time in Papua! This peak is one of the most challenging of the seven summits from a logistics perspective, the multiple fixed wing and helicopter flights required to access the mountain from Bali are a remarkable feat by itself, and then there are the many pitches of fixed ropes necessary to climb the tough steep rock faces to the summit! We had good climbing conditions on Carstensz Pyramid, and are very happy with the outcome of our expedition. All members are now back in Bali and are safe. We look forward to returning to Carstensz Pyramid soon for another great expedition next March!!!

-Joe Butler, Expedition Leader

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Puncak Jaya Ascent:

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Our Madison Mountaineering climbing team staying safe with fixed lines:

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Beautiful scenery on the Carstensz Pyramid ascent!

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Mozes Kilangin International Airport ~ Timika, Indonesia:

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B3 helicopter ride back to Timika!

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Sangeeta looking good with a big “Thumbs UP” next to our B3 helicopter! Way to go team!!

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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