Tag Archive for: Ama Dablam

Ama Dablam team at the puja ceremony today

Our Ama Dablam team is back in base camp after completing their 1st acclimatization rotation.  Garrett Madison, expedition leader, calls in today’s update:

Hello!  This is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam expedition team.  Today’s October 31st, Halloween and we are back in base camp!

We had a couple of good nights, up on mountain in Camp 1 and we climbed up to Camp 2 yesterday – touched Camp 2.  We had some great views up there, fun technical climbing, and good acclimatization – sleeping up at 19,000 ft. at Camp 1.

Today we camp back down to base camp, had a nice lunch, and then did our Puja ceremony with a Buddist Lama monk from Pangboche.

Everyone’s doing well here.  We’re just resting and recovering from our time high up on the mountain and looking forward to a few rest days here in base camp.

So, all’s well here at Ama Dablam base camp.  We’ll check in soon.

Camp 1 and Ama Dablam

Camp 1 and Ama Dablam

Climbing the Yellow Tower on Ama Dablam below Camp 2

Climbing the Yellow Tower on Ama Dablam below Camp 2


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

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Garrett Madison climbing around Ama Dablam Camp 1 and Camp 2

The 1st acclimatization rotation on Ama Dablam continues with the team touching Camp 2 (5980m/19,619ft) and returning to Camp 1 (5791m/19,000ft) for the night.  Team member J.B. Waterman provides today’s expedition dispatch:

This is J.B. Waterman on Madison Mountaineering’s Ama Dablam team.

Today was an epic training day – from Camp 1 at 19,000ft to Camp 2 at 20,000ft, across a serrated knife edge ridge, going up vertical walls of granite, to make it to Camp 2, and then turn around and go back.

We’re sleeping at Camp 1 tonight and then we’re gonna head back to base camp for a few days of rest and relaxation and recuperatation, so that we can go to the summit!

It was a great day.  Now it’s time to recuperate!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

A view of Ama Dablam Camp 1 from BC

Today our Ama Dablam kicked off their 1st acclimatization rotation by hiking and climbing up from base camp to Camp 1.  Team member J.B. Waterman provides today’s expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam 2021 team member J.B. Waterman.  It’s Friday, October 29th and me and the rest of the team are ensconced in Camp 1 (5791m/19,000ft) on Ama Dablam.

We hiked 4,000 vertical feet today with our packs and our gear hiking with jumaring up the rope to get to this spectacular place on the ridge.  We watched the sunset and are settling in.  We’re up at 19,000ft, getting ready to eat some dinner, and then grab some sleep.

Tomorrow we’ll head up to Camp 2, touch it, and come back to acclimatize.  It’s been pretty spectacular!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Ama Dablam 2021 team kicking at base camp

Our Ama Dablam team enjoyed views from their acclimatization hike today above base camp. Our expedition leader, Garrett Madison provides today’s expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Ama Dablam team update. Today is Thursday, October 28th and another great day here in base camp. We woke up, had breakfast, and then went for an acclimatization hike up above base camp. We had some great views and got about 2,000 feet of elevation gain before coming back down to base camp for lunch.

We organized our gear and getting ready for our first rotation on the mountain. We’re going to head up tomorrow to camp 1 for a couple of nights, so looking forward to getting up high on the mountain and hopefully some great views up there. And some fun technical climbing on the way from camp 1 to camp 2.

Everyone is doing great and we’re having an awesome time here and looking forward to another great day!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Views from Ama Dablam base camp. (📸: Ted Hesser)

The Ama Dablam team had a training day near base camp.  Garrett Madison, expedition leader, recaps the day:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Ama Dablam expedition team.  Today we did some training here, nearby base camp.  We put on our harnesses and rigged up our ascenders, safety carabiners, and repel devices and we practiced going up vertical fixed lines and repeling down fixed lines.  It was good to review all the necessary techniques for the upper mountain.

Then we came back, had a nice lunch, and organized some gear this afternoon and had a lovely dinner.  So, a beautiful day here, great views, everyone’s feeling strong and healthy.  We are really happy to be up here at base camp.  It’s just very beautiful and relaxing.

So, we’re all doing well and looking forward to a good day tomorrow.  We’ll check in soon!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Madison Mountaineering’s Ama Dablam base camp

Our Ama Dablam expedition team is settling into their home away from home at base camp. After a scenic trek into base camp and dinner, Garrett Madison, expedition leader, recaps the day:

Hello this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam expedition team. Today is Tuesday, October 26th and today we hiked from the village of Pangboche in the Khumbu Valley up to Ama Dablam base camp. We rolled into our base camp midday and had a nice lunch and then settled into our personal tents and explored the camp a little bit getting things dialed in. We just had a nice dinner here, first dinner in base camp tonight.

Nice to be up here at about 15,000 feet in the mountains and we’re looking forward to a good day tomorrow. We’re going to do some training and be here at least a couple of days before heading up to do our first rotation on the route.

Everyone is doing great here. It has been such a wonderful trek in so far, over the last five days coming in from Lukla up through Namche, Deboche and Pangboche, staying with the Sherpa families that we see year after year and reconnecting with all of the Nepalese people that are so important to us and help us make this all possible.

Everyone is having a great time.  We’re feeling healthy and we’re just soaking up all this fresh air and clear mountain views and snow-capped peaks. So, all is well here at Ama Dablam base camp and we’ll check in soon. Thanks


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

The 2021 Ama Dablam team receives blessings as they depart Namche and the Panorama Lodge

The first views of Ama Dablam were had today as the team took an acclimatization hike from the Panorama Lodge in Namche Bazaar up to the Everest View Hotel (3962m/13,000ft).  Garrett recaps the day:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam expedition 2021.

We had a great hike up to the Everest View Hotel and had amazing views of Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, as well as other peaks.  We enjoyed some tea there and had a beautiful clear day.  We came back down to Nachme for lunch and then had a relaxing afternoon, a nice dinner here in the Panorama Lodge, and we’re going to head off towards Deboche.

We are looking forward to heading up the valley and passing through the Tengboche Monastery and then down into the rhododendron forest to the Rivendell Lodge tonight.

Everyone’s doing well, we’re so happy to be here, and enjoying this beautiful mountain valley of Nepal.

We’ll check in soon!  Thanks.

View of Ama Dablam

View of Ama Dablam

Ama Dablam team at the Everest View Hotel

Ama Dablam team at the Everest View Hotel

View of peaks from Everest View Hotel (courtesy of Dawa Steven Sherpa)

View of peaks from Everest View Hotel (courtesy of Dawa Steven Sherpa)

Climber J.B. Waterman poses with local Sherpa woman above Namche

Climber J.B. Waterman poses with local Sherpa woman above Namche


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Ama Dablam 2021 team trekking to base camp

Today our Ama Dablam team continued their trek to base camp by reaching the Khumbu capital of Namche Bazaar.  Here’s expedition leader, Garrett Madison, with a recap of the day:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam expedition team.  Today’s Friday October 22nd and today we trekked up the Khumbu Valley over suspension bridges, crossing river gorges along raging rivers, and passing waterfalls up to village of Namche Bazaar, the iconic capital of Khumbu.

We rolled into Namche this afternoon, had a coffee, and explored the town a little bit.  We are getting ready for dinner here in the lodge.  We’re really happy to be back here with our good friends and are looking forward to a nice day tomorrow to do an acclimization hike.  Everyone’s doing well and we’re so happy to be here in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal and enjoying some nice weather, good views, and fresh air.

We’ll check in soon!

One of the many suspension bridges on the route to Ama Dablam base camp

One of the many suspension bridges on the route to Ama Dablam base camp

Stupas dotting the trail to Ama Dablam base camp

Stupas dotting the trail to Ama Dablam base camp


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

Ama Dablam team arrives in Lukla

Our 2021 Ama Dablam expedition kicked off yesterday with the team arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal.  This morning they flew to the mountain village of Lukla to begin the trek to base camp.  Here’s expedition leader Garrett Madison with the details:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering Ama Dablam expedition.  Today is October 21st and we arrived in Lukla, Nepal after a flight from Kathmandu this morning.  It was a beautiful flight up, clear skies, saw a lot of mountains.  And now we are trekking up the Khumbu to our first village,  Phakding.  Tonight we’re going to stay and then tomorrow work our way up to Namche.  Everyone’s doing well on the team, we’re excited to be up here in the mountains with some fresh air and some clear mountain views.

We’ll check in soon!


In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow our teams as they make their attempts on the world’s most formidable mountains on:

Amazon Alexa devices with the Madison Mountaineering Flash Briefing skill:

  • Enable the skill and add to your flash briefing to hear daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions

Instagram:

– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking map:

The beauty of climbing Ama Dablam

Having just concluded our first big international climbing expedition since COVID-19 hit earlier this year, I wanted to share some notes on my experience for climbers who are planning to climb with me in the future and climbers considering to join one of our upcoming programs.

Pacific Northwest

After the spring “lockdown” periods, we were finally able to get out into the mountains locally in Washington State beginning in late July when Mount Rainier National Park opened for commercial guiding. We operated our climb on Mount Rainier, as well as climbs on Mount Baker & Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades, all were successful, and everyone made it home safe and healthy.  By allowing climbers to sleep in their own tent or for members of the same households to share tents, we maintained appropriate distancing measures and followed prescribed guidelines. Once we departed the trailheads, we could hike & climb without needing the masks, as we were appropriately spaced out. It was refreshing to be able to live “mask-free” for a while. This is a unique benefit of traveling to the mountains during the pandemic.

Kilimanjaro

In August, we were able to operate our first Kilimanjaro program of the summer season. Myself and a father and daughter from Atlanta journeyed to Tanzania and climbed the tallest peak in Africa. We hardly saw anyone else on the mountain. It was surreal to experience Kilimanjaro nearly all to ourselves, as generally, the hiking trails and camps are fairly busy during the summer season. International travel was easy; we only needed to show a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of our travel to board the flight to Tanzania. Once we arrived in Tanzania, the logistics were seamless. The hotel staff in Arusha did a great job of making us feel safe. Our staff on the mountain was as welcoming as ever, all the while utilizing appropriate PPE to keep everyone safe. Reaching Kilimanjaro‘s summit with Drew and his daughter was a highlight for sure; we had it all to ourselves as we watched the sunrise.

After the climb, I flew back to the USA, while Drew and Jordan continued on for the safari. From their photos and reports, the game viewing was the best I’ve ever heard of. They didn’t see many other vehicles on safari, similar to their experience on the mountain, which is why I imagine the animals were in abundance and often ventured close to their vehicle. Overall, it was an incredible trip for them. We also felt very welcomed by the people of Tanzania. The pandemic has crushed their tourism industry, and they were very excited and happy to have us visit. We’ve operated more Kilimanjaro programs since, and they’ve gone perfectly. I look forward to returning in late January for my next Kili climb! If you’re interested in joining, please contact us!

Ama Dablam

The next international expedition I planned was to Nepal, a country I regularly visit for mountaineering in the spring and fall seasons. Unfortunately, we could not visit Nepal this past spring as Nepal went into lockdown, suspending all international flights from mid-March onwards. We patiently awaited Nepal to reopen so that we could plan a climb. Fortunately, the country announced it would open on October 17th for international travelers. Only travelers who are part of a mountaineering or trekking program could enter the country in the gradual reopening process.

The process for us to obtain “visa-on-arrival” approval letters from the Nepal Ministry of Immigration involved us having to process our mountaineering permit ahead of time. With the help of our Nepalese partner agency, we were able to procure the permits and visa-on-arrival letters for our whole team in advance so that when we arrived, the immigration process was smooth and seamless. We were the only foreigners at the immigration counter, a new experience for me! We also had to bring our negative COVID PCR test result and show proof of COVID travel insurance, which is not expensive but was initially hard to find. Our expedition team was the first to enter Nepal since the lockdown back in March, so the process was new for everyone.

Once we entered Nepal, we were required to quarantine at our hotel for about a week. During this time, we had to take another COVID PCR test. This was easy as we arranged for the test to be done at the hotel. The six days of quarantine within the guidelines at Kathmandu’s Hotel Yak & Yeti were pleasant; we did morning yoga on the lawn, played tennis, exercised in the fitness center, did some sightseeing around town, and went out to dinner at the various restaurants open in Kathmandu. The staff at the hotel were very friendly and ensured we had a comfortable and safe visit.

We flew to Lukla and began our trek to base camp. We didn’t see any other foreign trekkers on the trail, just a few locals. The villages in the Khumbu valley were very quiet, and only a few lodges were open. It was wonderful to reconnect with the families of the Khumbu and stay in their lodges. They were very welcoming and friendly. Since we had just recently tested negative for COVID in Kathmandu, we were not worried about spreading the virus but took responsible precautions to stay safe.

For the most part, the people in the Khumbu did not seem very concerned about the virus. However, we practiced responsible travel by masking-up initially if we went into a home or business. Since the Nepalese lost out on the entire spring climbing/trekking season, they were happy to see us return this autumn. Fall is usually the busiest trekking season in Nepal, and our group was the first commercial foreign team to venture into the Khumbu valley. There would be just a few small teams behind us in the coming weeks, a tiny fraction of the norm.

Arriving in Ama Dablam base camp was an occasion to celebrate! Ama Dablam base camp is one of the most beautiful and pleasant base camps I’ve ever visited over the years. Once we were in our base camp, we could practically forget all about COVID. Our team (foreign & Nepali) had tested negative for COVID just days before, so we were assured that our base camp community was virus-free. However, our staff continued to practice safe and responsible sanitation and cleanliness measures. It was refreshing to be able to relax, enjoy the spectacular views base camp affords, the comfort of our personal tents, and the quality of the meals. With Wi-Fi and a hot shower, it felt like “glamping!” Initially, we were the only team in base camp. Later on, another team showed up and would climb after us.

Climbing the mountain was a bit more complex than a “normal” season on Ama Dablam. Since we were the first team on the mountain, we had to fix the lines ourselves. This is nothing new to our crew, as we were also the first team to climb Ama Dablam last year and fixed the lines on Everest during the last 2 spring seasons (2018 & 2019).  Our highly skilled Sherpa team helped out with this task as well as establishing the higher camps. We climbed up to Camp 2 to acclimatize, then rested a few days in base camp before setting out for the summit push. The weather this autumn in Nepal has been very dry, so the route conditions were nice. We had a beautiful summit day, with everyone making it to the top and back down safely. Afterward, we decided to helicopter out from base camp back to Kathmandu, then depart for our home countries. Everyone made it home safely and COVID-free. I can’t imagine how it could have gone better; we were very fortunate. I look forward to returning to Nepal in the spring for Everest. I suspect that the mountain will be less busy than usual, a welcome scenario, as I imagine many people will still be afraid to travel internationally.

What’s Next

We are currently planning more climbs in Ecuador and Chile. Our Total Eclipse Climb program in Chile, as well as Ojos del Salado (2nd highest peak in South America and the highest active volcano in the world), is set to begin December 8th, the day after Chile suspends the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving passengers. We are also operating several Ecuador programs planned in the coming months.

Many people have asked how it’s possible for us to travel internationally during this time, assuming that the whole world is still in lockdown. While some countries are still in lockdown and travel there is not possible. Many countries are open and accessible by following the prescribed guidelines. Nearly every major mountaineering guide service has suspended international operations through 2020. However, as a boutique company, we can continue operating to some degree, at least in countries that are open, by complying with the local regulations. We’ve become familiar with the new requirements and procedures for traveling internationally, such as where and how to get the COVID PCR test, how to procure COVID travel insurance, which airlines are operating, etc.

By continuing to operate responsibly, we can facilitate meaningful experiences for our guests while providing much-needed tourist revenue for the local communities that depend on mountain travelers for survival. These communities have been hit very hard by the response to the pandemic. Traveling during this time can mean less crowded peaks and makes an important contribution to the local communities that need our help. Traveling now can also inspire others. We’ve all been affected in some way by the pandemic. It’s refreshing to know that we can still pursue our goals and aspirations that involve international travel.