Madison Mountaineering Everest 2018 Recap, “The Leader” on Everest
Everest 2018 Recap:
I am very pleased to report that our team had 100% success and safety with all climbers who embarked on the summit attempt from Everest base camp reaching the top between May 14 and May 18. Our small private teams (Kenton Cool’s group with Ben Fogel & Mark Fisher, the team of Ant Middleton & Ed Wardle) along and our main team of climbers all succeeded in the endeavor of climbing to the top of Everest and descending safely. We also had climbers complete the Everest and Lhotse combination climb, going from the summit of Mount Everest to the summit of Mount Lhotse the next day, altogether 42 climbers from our group (climbers and Sherpas) reached the summit of Mount Everest. As in previous Everest seasons, there were no injuries or accidents among our climbing team. We were supported by our incredible team of Sherpas who are an integral part of our success. Once again, as in the past 2017, season our team “led the way” by fixing the lines to the summit of Mount Everest, thereby opening the route for all teams to climb Mount Everest.
Most Successful Everest Season Ever?
This season on Mount Everest is likely the most successful ever, given the number of collective summits versus permits issued and taking into account overall accidents / fatalities. Two reasons can explain this very high level of success, the fact that our rope fixing team opened the route earlier than in previous Everest seasons and because a period of very good weather then manifest which allowed climbers to take advantage of the open route and good mountain conditions to climb. Because our rope fixing project was on time and well communicated with teams in Everest base camp, climbers were able to plan and prepare for summit attempts in advance of the good weather that materialized May 13th onward. Our rope fixing team had to work hard, despite unfavorable conditions in April and early May such as a very icy Lhotse Face combined with high winds, our team was still able to fix the ropes to the summit of Mount Everest by May 13th, with double lines in places to ease congestion on the Lhotse Face up to Camp 3, the Yellow Band, and on the Geneva Spur. The rope used was 10.5 mm static rope, a very strong and durable rope, the anchors (primarily Black Diamond 22 cm ice screws) were placed appropriately to support many climbers.
The small number of accidents / fatalities this season were unfortunate, but on average less than what we normally see on Everest. Generally there are some accidents / fatalities related to climbers getting stuck up high on Everest in bad weather or on a very crowded summit day and then running out of oxygen (I was witness to this in 2012 when 4 climbers perished up high on Everest because the rope fixing was delayed to May 18th and few good weather days were available). Because the weather window was favorable, climbers were able to spread out summit attempts over a week long period, so that no single day was problematic from a congestion standpoint. Additionally, because our rope fixing project was well planned and executed on schedule, climbers were able to take advantage of the good weather window by making plans in advance of the arrival of this stable weather period.
The rope fixing project this year was coordinated by my team, Adventure Consultants and our local operator in Nepal, Himalayan Guides. Initially there was some contention from other teams that this was a good idea, as traditionally the rope fixing project was managed by the ‘old guard’ on Everest and the work shared by many teams. However, the challenge of managing members from many teams often led to some confusion regarding work days, and lost efficiency when Sherpas from different teams worked together for the first time. Our approach, keeping the project containted within essentially one team, provided us the opportunity to utilitze our most capable high altitude Sherpas to complete this difficult project in an efficient and safe manner. Myself and Guy Cotter (CEO of Adventure Consultants) both climbed Mount Everest & Mount Lhotse this season, so we were able to actually be on the mountain to oversee and inspect various aspects of the rope fixing project ourselves in real-time rather than manage from Everest base camp as was traditionally the case by the teams in charge. I believe this “hands on” approach by the leadership influenced the rope fixing project in a very positive manner, evident by the outcome. I hope this example, where the end result is safer and more successful climbing on the world’s highest mountain, can be carried forward to future seasons on Mount Everest!
Testimonials from our 2018 Everest Climbers:
“Garrett…Thank you again for the adventure of a lifetime. What a team of guides and sherpas you have built! I can’t imagine spending 7 weeks at base camp or higher without the MM approach to acclimatization, rest, nutrition, and team work. I could not have succeeded without your support and attention. Keep doing what you love…..it shows in your results.” –Dave L
“Thank you so much for such an incredible climb. It felt safe and proficient the whole time because of you. Undeniably the most dialed crew on the mountain….Excited to climb with you in the future!” –Matt K
“Madison Mountaineering is the best run operation on the mountain” – Kenton Cool, Britain’s foremost Everest climber and guide (13 summits and counting)
Highest Success & Safety Three Years Running:
Our 2017 Mount Everest Expedition was again a fantastic success, with 100% of our 8 clients who reached Camp 2 making the summit of Everest on May 21st and May 23rd, along with 4 American guides, and 15 Sherpas!! We also were the only company that had several of our climbers complete the Everest & Lhotse “peak to peak” combination, where they climbed Mount Lhotse (4th highest mountain) the day after reaching the summit of Mount Everest. This amazing and unmatched level of success among all the teams on Mount Everest is secondary to our number one priority, that all members (clients, guides, & Sherpas) made it safely off the peak.
Rope Fixing to the Summit:
Our team took the lead in partnership with the British – Nepal Gurkha team in fixing the ropes to the summit of Mount Everest on May 15th, 2017. This was not part of our original plan, as the rope-fixing project was taken upon by several other teams at the start of the season. Unfortunately, after several mishaps, the lead team had to abandon the rope-fixing project along with their partners. Without any clear consensus on how or when the lines would be put in to the summit, our team stepped up to finish the job. This “mission critical” project was necessary so that teams could begin their summit attempts on Mount Everest, with teams reaching the summit the following day on May 16th and continuing to reach the summit as late as May 28th. We are glad that our team had the capability and prowess to organize and execute such an important task, when no other teams on the mountain could summon such an effort, at such a critical stage in the climbing season.
Our team was at the South Col when several climbers who had pushed themselves very hard on summit day returned and needed critical medical attention. Our guides came to assist with medicine (dexamethasone, etc) and supplemental oxygen. However, what stands out the most is that one of our veteran guides, Brent Bishop, along with our Sherpas, rescued the Slovak Climber from the Balcony (27,500’), lowering him all the way down to the South Col high camp. We gave oxygen for him to use on the descent. This heroic effort by Brent and our Sherpas involved abandoning their own summit attempt, just hours away from the top, and spending the day giving their all in an effort to save a life.
We feel very fortunate that our expedition was a stunning success. We attribute this to our careful team selection and training, our top notch and very experienced Everest guides and leadership, and of course our incredible Sherpa team who we invest heavily in year after year.
2016 Expedition Recap: 100% of our 2016 Everest Climbers reached the summit, of those that embarked on the summit attempt a total of 27 climbers (clients, guides and sherpas) reached the top of the world on May 19th, 2016!!
As Expedition Leader and Guide for 11 years running on Mount Everest, Garrett Madison has overseen all aspects for his teams related to planning, organization, and climbing on Mount Everest. As one of the best known “Expedition Leaders” on Mount Everest with the highest success and safety record in recent years, Garrett has personally accompanied 52 climbers (clients) up Mount Everest to the summit since 2009 (as well as many co guides and climbing Sherpas), more than any other guide or Expedition Leader. Garrett is known for ‘climber care’, making the well being of his clients his number one priority, this is perhaps the most important differentiating factor in our expeditions compared to the others on Mount Everest. Garrett has recently climbed Mount Lhotse (4th highest mountain) two times, in guiding climbers on the “peak to peak” combination where members climb Mount Lhotse the day after reaching the top of Mount Everest. Garrett has been part of many “firsts” on Everest, such as the 2016 first ascent by an American with a prosthetic leg, however, his proudest accomplishment is a 100% safety record for clients under his watch while climbing the peak.
Mount Everest, known by the Nepalese / Sherpas as Sagarmatha and by the Tibetans as Chomolungma, is the world’s highest peak at 29,035’ (8850m) and is the border between Nepal and Tibet. Since the 1920s, many of the world’s top climbers have attempted to scale Mount Everest, and May 29th 1953 marked the first successful ascent by Tenzing Norgay (Nepal) and Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand). Madison Mountaineering offers the premier climbing experience on Mount Everest in regards to summit success, safety, and overall experience. Our teams work together, have fun, and form lasting bonds of friendship over the course of the expedition. Our camaraderie as well as the very high level of support sets us apart from the other teams, we often come to the aid of other climbers in distress. We achieve this with small teams, top guides & sherpas, a focus on safety and good decision making, an overall goal of summit success and making the ‘return trip’, and enjoying the experience of Everest throughout the expedition.
Our Everest Guides:
After his 11th expedition to Mount Everest (the last 10 years as ‘Expedition Leader’), Garrett Madison has reached the top 9 times. Garrett has personally guided more climbers (52) over the last 8 years than any other mountain guide or Expedition Leader. Our Everest guide team includes very experienced mountain guides with multiple Everest summits such as Brent Bishop, Conan Bliss, Billy Nugent, Geoff Schellens, Fred Alldredge, and Sid Pattison, some of the most experienced and capable Everest guides on the mountain. This vast amount of organizational and logistical expertise, combined with a commitment to provide the best possible services to ensure safety and success, make Madison Mountaineering the premier boutique guiding company on Mount Everest. Climbers will have an unparalleled opportunity for safely climbing to the summit and returning to base camp, as well as climbing Lhotse if desired. Enjoying the experience is a high priority, and our climbers can attest to having a great time throughout! (Please contact us for past Everest climber testimonials) Our teams are different than the large scale operations where climbers are locked into specific dates for rotations and summit attempts, and may be one of many people sitting down to eat in the dining tent, or dealing with illness spreading throughout the group. Often these large groups have only a leader who remains in base camp and coaches members over the radio, while with our team your leader climbs with you to the summit and back, often making the crucial ‘mission critical’ decisions on the spot, this is a big part of our high level of success and safety. By keeping our team small yet highly supported, we don’t compromise our standards in providing the best strategy, flexibility, and resources needed to succeed in the dynamic environment that is Everest. The equation for success and safety involves variables that can and often rapidly change such as:
• Weather (wind speed, precipitation, temperature)
• Acclimatization and health
• Climbing route (the route often changes daily through the Khumbu Icefall)
• Other climbers and teams (climbers needing assistance, evacuation, as well as periodic overcrowding on the route) Some teams now bring over 100+ Climbers and Sherpas, hardly an intimate experience!
We can quickly adjust to changing conditions better than any other team. We have the best communication systems available to monitor the weather (along with a few dedicated meteorologists), to communicate with other teams on the mountain to collaborate on the route, weather, rescues, and summit schedule. We have an experienced base camp manager, a menu plan developed by a certified nutritionist, and a helicopter available that can evacuate an injured or ill climber if necessary from as high as Camp 3. Our Sherpas are among the finest and most respected on the mountain, as evidenced by our Sherpas who took part in fixing the ropes to the summit on May 15th, 2017. We are a team that works together to accomplish our common goals of safety, success, and having fun. If you would like to know more, we invite you to contact us!
Mount Everest is a harsh environment. We take pride in creating a team that can not only reach the top but can also get down safely, and survive. We are one of the few teams that has the ability to support climbers in distress who are high on Everest, commonly called the ‘death zone’ which is above 8000 meters. Below are 2 short videos about rescues on Mount Everest in 2016 & 2017. In both cases our team provided medical support at Camp 4, the South Col, and contributed to the ultimate survival of each of the 2 men.
Our 2018 Everest Express climbers both succeeded in reaching the summit of Mount Everest on May 14th, just under a month from the beginning of our Express program, proving once again that the program works! With the aid of the Hypoxico Tent System as well as helicopters, the Everest Express program allows climbers to achieve the summit in less than one month.
History was made in 2013 when two climbers joined Garrett halfway through the Mount Everest season. These men had each pre acclimatized at homes in a chamber over their beds for one month and then flew directly to the mountain via helicopter where they integrated with the regular climbing team. From that point on (April 26th) they climbed on schedule with the regular team that Garrett led, and summited with the team on May 18th. They experienced no negative effects, and performed well overall. They were door to door in less than a month, and this marked the first and only time that an expedited schedule of this length has been accomplished for guided climbers on a commercial Mount Everest expedition.
This program includes:
• Pre acclimatization plan and rental of the altitude bedchamber
• Training plan to develop appropriate fitness for the Everest climb
• Climbing strategy upon arrival in Nepal to the summit of Mount Everest and back
• All regular logistics and services associated with the standard Mount Everest program we offer once climbers arrive in Nepal.
The Everest Express climb was a success, and proves that with the proper training, technology, and coaching, climbers can elect to forgo the normal two months required to climb Mount Everest. For those with commitments to family and business that would prohibit a two month departure, the Everest Express allows for a successful climbing experience on Mount Everest in a one month or less time frame. Garrett Madison is currently the only guide to have organized and executed successfully a program of this nature in less than one month.
Everest Express Program: $75,000
April 25-May 25, 2019
Cost Includes (in addition to normal Mount Everest program):
• Rental of altitude chamber system for 1-month duration of pre acclimatization
• Helicopter flights in Nepal, Kathmandu to Mount Everest base camp and return
• All permits and equipment for the climb including extra oxygen
• Coaching and strategy, guiding by Madison Mountaineering
• Please contact us to learn more about the acclimatization plan and climbing strategy for this program.
Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu, gear check and stay in Yak & Yeti hotel.
Day 2: Fly via helicopter to Lukla. Transfer in helicopter to Lobuche village, rest and sleep in Lobuche lodge (4,940m / 16,300’).
Day 3: Trek to Everest base camp (5,300m / 17,500’).
Day 4: Rest and organize gear in base camp.
Day 5-7: Begin training on Khumbu glacier near base camp. Climbers will practice how to use the fixed ropes, ice axe, crampons, ascender, etc., to climb safely through the Khumbu Icefall and cross the many ladders on the way up to Camp 2. This training will include ascending vertical ice and rappelling down vertical sections.
Day 8: Climb to Camp 1 (5,800m / 19,200’)
Day 9: Rest in Camp 1, acclimatization hike
Day 10: Climb to Camp 2 (6,450m / 21,300’)
Day 11: Rest in Camp 2, acclimatization hike
Day 12: Climb to Camp 3 (7,200m / 23,760’), return to Camp 2 to sleep
Day 13: Descend to Base Camp
Days 14-17: Rest in Base Camp
Day 18: Climb to Camp 2
Day 19: Rest at Camp 2
Day 20: Climb to Camp 3 (7,200m / 23,760’)
Day 21: Climb to Camp 4 (7,900m / 26,000’)
Day 22: Rest at Camp 4
Day 23: Summit & return to Camp 4
Day 24: Descend to Camp 2
Day 25: Descend to Everest base camp, sleep in base camp
Day 26: Fly by helicopter to Lukla, then Kathmandu
Day 27: Depart Kathmandu for home country
Day 28: Arrive home
Day 29-36: Contingency days (8) in case extra days are needed on the mountain because of bad weather, acclimatization, or getting back to Kathmandu.
Please contact us to learn about our finely tuned acclimatization and climbing strategy as it relates to our Mount Everest Expedition. Our climbing itinerary has been refined over 11 Mount Everest expeditions, in both 2018 and 2017 resulting in 100% of the climbers reaching the summit, who embarked on the summit attempt after reaching Camp 2.
April 2: Meet in KTM
April 3: City tour in KTM
April 4: Fly to Lukla and begin trek to base camp (stay in Phak Ding)
April 5: Trek to Namche
April 6-7: Rest in Namche, Everest View Point, etc.
April 8: Trek to Debuche
April 9: Trek to Pangboche
April 10: Trek to Dingboche
April 11: Rest in Dingboche
April 12: Trek to Lobuche
April 13: Rest in Loubche
April 14: Trek to base camp
April 15-20: Acclimatize and review mountaineering technique (ladder practice, fixed lines, etc) in base camp, Puja ceremony.
April 21: Climb to Camp 1
April 22: Rest in Camp 1
April 23: Climb to Camp 2
April 24: Rest in Camp 2
April 25: Descend to base camp
April 26-30: Rest in base camp
May 1: Climb to Camp 2
May 2: Rest in Camp 2
May 3: Rest in Camp 2 (hike up west shoulder)
May 4: Touch Camp 3, sleep in Camp 2
May 5: Descend to base camp
May 6-13: Descend and rest in Debuche or Namche, evaluate weather conditions for summit rotation
May 14: Climb to Camp 2
May 15: Rest in Camp 2
May 16: Climb to Camp 3 (use O2)
May 17: Climb to Camp 4 (use O2)
May 18: Rest in Camp 4 (use O2)
May 19: Climb to Summit! (use O2) and return to Camp 4.
May 20: Climb to Summit of Lhtose, return to Camp 2.
May 21: Descent to base camp.
May 22-24: Trek to Lukla
May 25: Arrive Kathmandu
May 26: Depart for home country
May 27-31: Extra days in case of bad weather, etc. (contingency)
*Schedule subject to change based on route conditions, weather conditions, and climber health.
Dates and Costs for Standard Mount Everest Program
April 2 (arrive Kathmandu) – May 31, 2019
Mount Everest and Lhotse Combination Climb
April 2 – May 31, 2019
Expedition costs include:
• Airport pick up in Kathmandu
• 3 night accommodations in Kathmandu at Yak & Yeti Hotel, 2 nights before and 1 night after the expedition.
• Welcome dinner in Kathmandu.
• Lodging for all nights during the trek to and from base camp.
• Tents during the climb.
• All food during the trek and climb. We provide high quality food from the USA and Nepal. If you have specific dietary requirements, please give us specific details and we will accommodate your needs!
• All transportation in Nepal, including round-trip flights from Kathmandu to Lukla & Lukla to Kathmandu. Helicopter out of base camp after expedition is available as an optional upgrade.
• All group equipment needed to climb the mountain: cooking gear, fuel, stoves, ropes, all forms of rock, ice, and snow protection, radio communications, oxygen delivery system and oxygen cylinders, medical supplies, etc.
• Internet access wifi is available to all climbers on our team at base camp ($50/gigabyte). Sat phone is available at $3 per minute.
• Sherpa, porters, liaison officer, camp staff and American mountain guides.
• All administration fees owed to Nepal, including climbing permits.
Expedition costs do not include:
• $25 Wire Transfer Fee (If Applicable)
• International round-trip airfare (Home Country-Nepal-Home Country).
• Meals in Kathmandu and hotels after the climb (once the climber has left the mountain).
• Personal gear, clothing and sleeping equipment (see gear list).
• Trip cancellation insurance.
• Comprehensive medical exam: A physician signed Medical Release Form is required.
• Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks.
• All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (evacuation fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc.).
• Personal Items.
• Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Madison Mountaineering, LLC.
• Personal communication (phone, fax, e-mail) between Nepal and home country.
• Gratuity for western guide.
• $1000 per Sherpa summit bonus.
Nepal Cancellation/Refund Policy
• Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
• Deposit due with registration materials.
• All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition.
• There are no refunds for the deposit or balance for this expedition.
Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.
• Ice Axe: General mountaineering tool (65cm)
• Crampons: General mountaineering crampons
• Climbing Helmet: Must be able to fit over your ski hat
• Ascender: 1 right or left hand ascender (Petzel brand is best)
• Alpine Climbing Harness: A mountaineering harness, with adjustable leg loops. Not a rock climbing “sport” harness.
• Carabiners: 3 locking and 3 regular
• Rappel device: ATC or figure 8
• Mountaineering boots: Olympus Mons, Millet, etc.
• Hiking shoes: comfortable boots or shoes for the trek to base camp.
• Camp boots: comfortable boots for wearing in camp.
• Booties: Optional, down is best.
• Wool or synthetic socks: 6 pair
• Liner socks: 3 pair
• Synthetic Short underwear: A non cotton style underwear.
• Lightweight Long Underwear: 2-3 pair longsleve shirt and long pants
• Heavyweight long underwear: 1 pair
• Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt: 1-2 pair
• Lightweight Nylon Pants: 1-2 pair
• Soft Shell jacket: To be worn over other layers
• Soft Shell Pants: Very breathable and water repellent
• Hard Shell Jacket with hood: A waterproof and breathable shell jacket
• Hard Shell Pants: Waterproof and breathable shell pants
• Insulated Down Jacket with hood: We primarily wear this when climbing below Camp 2.
• Insulated synthetic Pants: Worn primarily when climbing below Camp 2.
• Down Suit: Feathered Friends, Sherpa, North Face, Mountain Hardwear, etc. We wear this climbing above Camp 2.
• Warm Hat: Synthetic or wool hat (ski hat).
• Balaclava: to protect your neck and face in high winds.
• Baseball Camp or other sun hat: To shade your face / neck from the sun on a hot day.
• Bandana or Buff: To protect your neck / face from the sun.
• Glacier glasses: Full protection with side covers or wrap around.
• Ski goggles: To be worn on summit day in the event of high winds.
• Lightweight synthetic liner gloves: For wearing on a hot day.
• Soft shell gloves: To wear for moderate cold / wind.
• Shell glove with insulated liner: To wear for severe cold / strong wind.
• Expedition Mitts: Large enough to fit a liner glove inside.
• Expedition Backpack: 65L pack should be large enough.
• Trekking Backpack: To carry on the trek to base camp. Simple and light.
• Sleeping Bag (for high camps): Rated to at least -40°F. Goose down or synthetic.
• Sleeping Bag (for base camp): rated to at least -20°F.
• Compression stuff sacks: For reducing volume of the sleeping bag, down parka, etc., in your pack.
• Self inflating sleeping pad (1 for base camp and 1 for high camps): Full length is preferred.
• Closed cell foam pad: To be used in conjunction with the inflating pad for warmth and comfort when sleeping.
• Trekking poles with snow baskets: Adjustable poles
• Cup: A plastic 16 oz. minimum cup or mug
• Bowl: A plastic bowl for eating dinner or breakfast out of
• Spoon: Plastic spoon (lexan)
• Headlamp: With 2 extra sets of new batteries
• Sunscreen: SPF 50 or better
• Lipscreen: SPF 30 or better (2 sticks).
• Water bottles: 2 or 3 wide mouth bottles with 1 liter capacity.
• Water bottle parkas (2): fully insulated with zip opening.
• Thermos: 1 liter
• Pee bottle: 1 liter minimum bottle for convenience at night in the tent.
• Toiletry bag: Include toilet paper and hand sanitizer and small towel
• Hand warmers & toe warmers: 3 sets of each. Or use Hotronic foot warmer system.
• Knife or multi tool (optional).
• Trash compactor bags: to line back pack and stuff sacks as well as for separating gear.
• Camera: bring extra batteries and memory cards.
• Travel Clothes: For days in Kathmandu.
• Duffel bags (2) with locks: To transport equipment.
• Base Camp Items: Kindle, Ipad, smart phone, etc.
• Snack food: Please bring a few days of your favorite climbing snack food such as bars, gels, nuts, beef jerky, etc. A variety of salty and sweet is good.
• Small personal first aid kit: Include athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofin, blister care, personal medications, etc.
• Medications and Prescriptions: Bring antibiotics (Azithromycin, etc.), and altitude medicine such as Diamox and dexamethasone.