The first and only successfully guided commercial mountaineering expedition to K2 was led by Madison Mountaineering in 2014. On July 27th, 2014 Garrett Madison reached the summit of K2 along with climbers Alan Arnette and Matthew Dupuy (read the expedition dispatches). We plan to return to K2 in 2017 and hope to repeat our success, bringing a team of 6 climbers.
Climbing K2 is much more challenging and far more dangerous than climbing Everest via the standard North or South side routes, and for this reason we plan to keep our team size small and comprised of qualified climbers, supported by some of the best climbing Sherpas and mountain guides in the world. Unlike on Everest, because the weather and route conditions are notoriously fickle on K2, we must be prepared to take advantage of very brief periods of good weather. Rock fall and snow avalanches are common on the route following K2’s Abruzzi ridge, making it often unsafe to climb or camp (as evidenced by the 2013 tragedy), and the monolithic ice cliff which overhangs the “bottleneck” and “traverse” portions of the route on summit day sheds ice frequently (as evidenced by the 2008 tragedy), so taking advantage of good route conditions and moving quickly are paramount.
8000 meter peaks such as Everest, Cho Oyu, and Manaslu are now frequented by commercial operators coordinating together to set the fixed ropes, therefore sharing this work load, however since K2 is undeveloped we will likely be working alone or with only one other team to set the fixed lines. Additionally, relying on support from other teams for help is not available so we must be self sufficient throughout.
Unfortunately the food available in Pakistan is not the best for foreigners, so we have developed a meal plan that encompasses the entire trek and climb. Most of this food is brought from the USA, and we have a Nepalese cook who we have worked with for many years who (with his staff) meticulously prepares each meal for our team. On the mountain our guides and Sherpas help prepare the meals. We find that climbers perform much better, and are often in better spirits, when the food is appetizing and nutritious.
We employ many porters to ferry our expedition loads to base camp. The trek to K2 base camp is more than twice the distance as the trek to Everest base camp (south side), and is considerably more arduous being mostly on glacier and loose rock. There are no villages or lodges (as on the Everest trek) so we must transport our entire camp kit by porters each day as we move our caravan towards base camp. Each porter on hire requires an additional porter to carry food and personal items, so we have a small army making our way up and down the Baltoro Glacier. It is very important to differentiate ourselves from other operators in that we have a very nice base camp, with large common tents with heating for dining and communications, and comfortable personal tents for each member. Being here almost 2 months, it is important for our team to have a comfortable camp, as well as to have access to the internet via a satellite modem (this cost is free to all members). We have modern VHF radios for communications on the mountain, and each member is issued their own radio. We also have satellite phones available to members.
We have regular access to hot showers, sinks for washing multiple times daily, one sanitary toilet tent for men and one for women, as well as ample space for storing your personal equipment securely.
Above base camp (16,300’) we have 5 camps: Advanced Base Camp (17,400’), Camp 1 (19,900’), Camp 2 (21,980’), Camp 3 (23,800), and Camp 4 (25,300’). Unlike many teams who share tents in various camps, we have our own dedicated tents in each camp that are preset to reserve our space at the beginning of the season. One should note that at Camp 1 and Camp 2 there is only space for 6-8 tents maximum, so if you arrive late in the season you must share a tent with another team that already has their camp established if you wish to use that camp. Much of the route leading up to Camp 4 is on steep snow or ice slopes, however there is also significant rock. Portions of the route such as House’s Chimney and The Black Pyramid involve sustained periods of vertical rock climbing, so one should be well versed using crampons on steep rock at high altitude.
Our plan is to climb partway up the route reaching Camp 3 to acclimatize before making our summit rotation. For details regarding our acclimatization and Oxygen strategy please contact our office.
On summit day we begin the gradual ascent of “the Shoulder” on hard snow and ice leading up to the bottleneck, a rock and snow climb under the looming Serac. Next is the “Traverse” which is mostly front pointing, and then the upper snow slopes leading to K2’s summit, where we are often breaking trail through knee deep snow. The view from the top is amazing!
“The expedition was everything and more. The summit was great, but the team was the bonus — Garrett, man we got on so well. That made K2 for me. You selected well and were the perfect leader allowing us to be the mountaineers we are. Words won’t express my gratitude in the overall expedition. Thank you so much!”
-Jason Black, 2018 K2 Climber
“It was my pleasure and honor to be on your team for K2. A terrific experience, superbly planned and well executed.”
-James Clarke, 2018 K2 Climber
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the 2015 Madison Mountaineering expedition to K2. Garrett did an outstanding job of managing the logistics, personnel, equipment and most importantly the safety of the climb. Despite the difficult conditions that resulted from the poor weather this season in the region the trip was an absolute success delivering a well organized, safe and dynamic experience for all those that participated. Madison did a terrific job in balancing all the complexities of organizing such a complex expedition to a region that has it challenges in terms of access, communications, comfort and safety. I would absolutely sign up again.”
-Brant Didden, 2015 K2 Climber
“We were very satisfied with the Madison Mountaineering K2 Expedition, especially the staff, the logistics, the base camp, and how the expedition was managed start to finish. We very much appreciated the experienced sherpas and Garrett’s ‘previous summit’ knowledge of K2.”
-Tanel Tuuleveski & Andras Kassik, 2015 K2 Climbers
“Despite the bad weather and unsafe route conditions that prevented us and all other climbers on K2 in 2015 from making the summit, I felt the expedition was safe, enjoyable, and a great experience. The base camp was well equipped with a spacious dining tent, comfortable personal tents for individual climbers, great food, a satellite modem that all climbers could use to get on the internet, and nightly films on a big screen. The highly skilled sherpas and our experienced/qualified guides were a key part of our success and safety on the mountain. Even though we did not summit the experience was priceless”
-Thomas Boyer, 2015 K2 Climber
“I wouldn’t hesitate to join Madison Mountaineering on any future 8000m expeditions they put together. Garrett and his team have the expertise to make the most challenging climbs safe, comfortable and fun. Madison Mountaineering provides a balance of expertise, comfort and safety that is unparalleled by any other guiding service I have used. They make the farthest flung corners of the world fun to adventure in. I would not have summited K2 without Garrett and his team.”
-Matthew Du Puy, 17th American to summit K2 thanks to Madison Mountaineering
“On July 27, 2014, my birthday, I became the oldest American to summit K2. The professionalism and skill of Garrett Madison was key in this achievement. His attention to detail, plus leveraging his extensive Everest experience gave our team the best chance to summit and descend safely and quickly on arguably the world’s toughest mountain.”
-Alan Arnette, Fort Collins, CO
Day1: Arrive Islamabad early in the morning, gear check, group welcome dinner and stay in our 4-star hotel.
Day 2: Fly via fixed wing aircraft from Islamabad to Skardu. Explore the village and relax in the gardens of the hotel overlooking the Indus River.
Day 3: Drive to Askole in jeeps.
Day 4: Trek to Korofong 3,100m (10,320’).
Day 5: Trek to Bardumal 3,305m (10,906’).
Day 6: Trek to Paiju 3,383m (11,164’).
Day 7: Trek to Khoburtse 3,566m (11,768’).
Day 8: Trek to Urdukas 4,130m (13,630’).
Day 9: Trek to Goro 2 4,250m (14,025’).
Day 10: Trek to Concordia 4,600m (15,180’).
Day 11: Arrive K2 base camp 5,650m (18,650’).
Day 12-16: Rest days in base camp. Organize equipment, short hikes & climbs for acclimatization. If climbers are feeling well acclimatized we may begin our first ‘rotation’ without using all 5 of these rest days.
Days 17-40: Climbing period. We make at least one rotation climbing to Camps 1, 2 and 3 before making our summit attempt. During this time we establish our route and high camps, and evaluate the weather for our summit rotation. We hope to summit between July 25-August 5.
Day 41-43: Organize gear for departure.
Day 44: Trek to Goro 2.
Day 45: Trek to Paiju.
Day 46: Trek to Askole.
Day 47: Drive from Askole to Skardu by jeep.
Day 48: Fly Skardu to Islamabad.
Day 49: Islamabad to USA.
Days 50-60: Contingency days in case of bad weather.
K2 Abruzzi Ridge Route
June 18 – August 12, 2020
• Airport pick up in Islamabad.
• 2 nights accommodations in Islamabad at 4 star hotel, 1 night before and 1 night after the expedition. (If additional nights in Islamabad are required climbers must pick up the extra nights)
• Welcome dinner in Islamabad, breakfast included with hotel stay (2 nights)
• Tents during the trek and climb. At base camp each climber will have a 3 person tent at base camp for personal use. We will have a private dining tent for our expedition, and a private communications tent for our expedition. A toilet tent and shower tents will also be provided exclusive to our team, as well as lights, heaters, and a power source for recharging your electronics.
• All food during the climb. No expense is spared in providing high quality food from the USA and Pakistan/Nepal. If you have particular dietary requirements, please give us specific details and we will accommodate your needs!
– All transportation in Pakistan, including round-trip flights from Islamabad to Skardu & Skardu to Islamabad. In the event these flights are cancelled we will usually wait a few days for another flight before making the 2 day journey by bus to Skardu.
• All group equipment needed to climb the mountain: ropes, tents, cooking gear, fuel, stoves, all forms of rock, ice, and snow protection, VHF radios for all members, other communication gear, plenty of oxygen for all climbers & Sherpas, oxygen mask & regulator, medical supplies, etc.
• Our Sherpa team will be in charge of fixing our route to the summit. Once we summit they will likely take these fixed ropes off the route upon our descent.
• Internet access & satellite phones in base camp. Satellite phone is available at $3 per minute.
• Professional weather forecasting services from USA & European based meteorologists.
• Sherpa, porters, liaison officer, camp staff and guides.
• All administration fees owed to Islamabad, including climbing permits.
Costs do not include:
• $25 Wire Transfer Fee (If Applicable)
• International round-trip airfare (USA-Pakistan-USA).
• Meals in Islamabad and extra hotel nights after the climb (once the climber has left the mountain). If we are delayed in Islamabad climbers must pay for additional nights.
• Personal gear for any standard 8000 meter peak expedition, clothing and sleeping equipment (see gear list).
• Insurance. A comprehensive medical insurance policy is required to embark on this expedition. An evacuation Insurance Policy is also mandatory. Helicopter evacuation from base camp costs approximately $40,000.
• Trip cancellation insurance. This is highly recommended.
• 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 Pakistan and home country.
• Gratuities ($1000 Sherpa summit bonus for your personal Sherpa). Western guide gratuity.
• There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without a summit or progress towards a summit for participants due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering. Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts within our margin of safety.
• Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
• 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
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.
Carabineers: 3 locking and 3 regular
Rappel device: ATC or figure 8
Mountaineering boots: Olympus Mons, Millet, ect.
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 repellant
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 Hot Tronics for food 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 Islamabad.
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.
Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. Because we have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun!
Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.
Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are not only experts in our field, but we also love what we do!