We are excited to once again be heading off to Antarctica to climb the southernmost of the Seven Summits, Mount Vinson. The first of our two expeditions this season heads out on December 18th. Stay tuned here for daily updates once we get underway.
By the way, it’s not too early to start making your plans to join us on Mount Vinson for the 2020/2021 season next December! Contact our office for details.
In addition to these expedition dispatches, you can also follow the teams as they make their attempts to summit the highest mountain in Antarctica on:
– our Garmin inReach Mini powered real-time tracking maps:
Be among the few to have climbed Antarctica’s highest volcano and one of the Volcanic Seven Summits. Join the ultimate mountaineering expedition to Mount Sidley (4285m / 14,058 ft) and stand atop one of the most remote summits on earth.
Sidley is a huge mountain, set on the white expanse of the Polar Ice Sheet. This majestic peak features a 3 mi (5 km) wide caldera and sheer-walled amphitheater, created by an explosive eruption 4.7 million years ago. Blue-ice slopes guard the upper mountain and fantastical snow mushrooms sprout along the upper ridge, leading to the summit.
Mount Sidley was first climbed in 1990 by New Zealander Bill Atkinson.
Day 1: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. Our guide will meet you upon arrival at the airport and take you to our hotel. After settling in, we will conduct a thorough equipment check, and then have a group dinner at one of the many fine restaurants.
Day 2: After breakfast, we attend a pre-flight briefing with our flight operator, and discuss many aspects of the journey to Antarctica. In the afternoon we send our duffel bags to the airport to be checked and packed for departure. We have the late afternoon and evening to explore the city.
Day 3: Depart for Antarctica. We fly approximately 5 hours over the Drake Passage and land at Union Glacier camp. We generally spend 1-2 nights at this camp.
Day 4: Review rope travel, Ice axe arrest, and crevasse rescue techniques.
Day 5: Fly to Mount Sidley base camp, establish base camp.
Days 6-12: Climbing period. Mount Sidley has been climbed by fewer than 10 teams and there is still opportunity for exploring new routes. The mountain offers several interesting options, including a longer, easy ascent from the north side and a steeper climb up the west ridge from the Bennett Saddle. Your guide will assess the options and decide on a route based on the group’s skill and experience.
From base camp to the summit of Mount Sidley involves approximately 7300 ft (2225 m) of elevation gain. You’ll climb alpine-style, setting intermediate camps on the mountain, and carrying all of your food and equipment with you. Although you may use skis lower down on the mountain, most of the climb will be done with crampons.
The slopes of the mountain are wind-blown, with hard packed snow and sections of blue-ice. Gentle slopes near the base give way to steeper terrain higher up.
Summit day offers spectacular views as you follow up the summit ridge along the rim of the caldera. The walls of the Weiss Amphitheater drop steeply away below you and neighboring Mount Waesche may tempt you with its snowy slopes.
As you make your way to the summit ridge, you’ll weave your way between a fantastical maze of snow mushrooms. These massive snow features are formed by wind and moisture depositing rime ice on small obstacles over time.
Following the summit, you’ll return to your high camp, then retrace your steps back to base camp.
Day 13: Fly back to Union Glacier Camp this day.
Day 14: Fly from Union Glacier Camp to Punta Arenas
Day 15: Depart Punta Arenas for home.
Days 16-18: Extra days in case of bad weather or flight delays.
Mount Sidley 2020 Departures:
January 07, 2020
• Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
• All flights within Antarctica to reach Mount Sidley base camp and back
• All accommodation and services while in Antarctica
• All meals in Antarctica
• All team equipment (tents, ropes, cooking equipment, etc.)
• All communications equipment such as VHF radios and satellite phone
• Guide service fees
• Daily weather forecasting during the climb
Costs Do Not Include:
• Bank transfer fees, if needed
• Accommodation and meals in Punta Arenas
• Personal items (see equipment list)
• Medical and Evacuation Insurance (required)
• Trip cancellation insurance (highly recommended)
• Any charges incurred that are beyond the control of Madison Mountaineering, LLC
• All prices and program dates are subject to change
Mt. Sidley Cancellation and Refund Policy:
Each deposit includes a $5,000 non-refundable registration fee that secures your flight reservation to Antarctica. A full refund, minus the registration fee will be provided if a refund request is made in writing and received by our office 120 days before the program begins. No refunds will be provided from the 120-day period leading up to the start of the expedition.
• Ice Axe: General mountaineering tool (65cm)
• Crampons: General mountaineering crampons
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
• Accessory Cord: 40’ of 5mm accessory cord for rigging your harness and prussiks.
• Rappel device: ATC or figure 8
• Mountaineering boots: La Sportiva Olympus Mons, Millet Everest, etc. A ’triple’ boot system is preferred to keep your feet warm.
• Gaiters: If you are not using a triple boot system (recommended above), then plan to bring gaiters.
• Overboots: If you are not using a triple boot system, please bring neoprene overboots to provide additional warmth for your feet.
• Booties: Optional, down is best.
• Wool or synthetic socks: 3 pair
• Liner socks: 3 pair
• Synthetic Short underwear: A non cotton style underwear.
• Lightweight Long Underwear: 2-3 pair long sleeve shirt and long pants
• Heavyweight long underwear: 1 pair
• Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt: 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
• Heavyweight Insulated Down Jacket with hood: 800+ fill
• Insulated synthetic Pants: 800+ fill
• Warm Hat: Synthetic or wool hat (ski hat).
• Balaclava: to protect your neck and face in high winds.
• Facemask: Optional, neoprene is best.
• Baseball Cap 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.
• Balaclava: To protect your face & neck from the wind/cold
• 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.
• Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least -40°F. Goose down or synthetic.
• Compression stuff sacks: For reducing volume of the sleeping bag, down parka, etc., in your pack.
• Self inflating sleeping pad: 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 large plastic bowl for eating dinner or breakfast out of
• Spoon: Plastic spoon (lexan)
• Sunscreen: SPF 50 or better
• Lip screen: 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
• Hand warmers & toe warmers: 3 sets of each.
• 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 Punta Arenas.
• Duffel bags (2) with locks: To transport equipment.
• Base Camp Items: Kindle, iPad, smart phone, etc.
• Snack food: Please bring a week’s supply of your favorite climbing snack food such as bars, gels, nuts, beef jerky, etc. A variety of salty and sweet is good. Please be advised that some foods are not allowed into Chile.
• Small personal first aid kit: Include athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, blister care, personal medications, etc.
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!
Our final Mount Vinson expedition of the season was able to go all the way from Mount Vinson High Camp to Union Glacier Camp in a day. Listen in to expedition leader Garrett Madison‘s audio expedition dispatch:
Hello! This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition with Jim Lumberg and Garrett Madison (in conjunction with PolarExplorers). Today is January 19th and we have arrived back at Union Glacier Camp. We had a great summit yesterday on Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. Today we woke up at High Camp, packed up our camp, descended down to Low Camp, and then all the way to Vinson Base Camp. We were very fortunate to be met by a Twin Otter aircraft which then shuttled us 45-minutes back to Union Glacier Camp, the main hub here in Antarctica.
The plan is that tomorrow we hope to fly out on the llyshun jet back to Punta Arenas, Chile. Then, in the next few days, be homeward bound. We were very lucky to get out today from Mount Vinson to Union Glacier. We are both doing well, just had a great dinner, and looking forward to some much needed rest.
Thanks for following along. We will check in soon.
(photo: Madison Mountaineering 2019 Mount Vinson team two)
Hello, this is Garrett calling in for Mount Vinson expedition with Jim Lumberg and Garrett Madison. Today is January 18th and we summited Mount Vinson today! We had a beautiful summit day with the mountain all to ourselves. We are back at High Camp about to have some pad thai dehydrated meals.
Our plan is to head down tomorrow to Vinson Base Camp and hopefully soon catch a flight to back to Union Glacier Camp. It’s been a great climb so far. We just have to get down the steep fixed rope section tomorrow and down on to Vinson Base Camp.
All is well here and it’s been a wonderful expedition! This is Garrett Madison and Madison Mountaineering in collaboration with PolarExplorers.
(photo: Madison Mountaineering 2019 team two)
Hi, this is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition number three with Garret and Jim Lumberg. We are up at high camp today on January 17th. We made the push from Low Camp up to High Camp after waking up this morning at Low Camp and having a nice breakfast. Then we climbed up the fixed ropes about 1,000 meters or 3,300 feet to High Camp. It was a little cool and windy once we got to High Camp. But we managed to set up tents, get some water going, had dinner. And now we are tucked into our sleeping bags, ready for a nice long sleep.
There were a couple of other teams that were up here and summitted today: the Alpine Ascents and IMG crews. They will be heading down tomorrow and it will be just us up here! So we are looking forward to having the mountain all to ourselves. We are going to take a rest day tomorrow and see what the weather forecast brings for a potential summit the following day.
Everything is great here on Vinson! We will check in soon.
(photo: Madison Mountaineering Vinson 2019 team two)
Hello, this is Garrett calling in for Mount Vinson expedition number three: Garrett Madison and Jim Lumberg in collaboration with PolarExplorers! Today we left Union Glacier camp and flew via Twin Otter aircraft to Mount Vinson base camp at 7,800 ft.. We rigged our sleds and backpacks and started climbing up to Low Camp. It took us about five and a half hours to get to Low Camp. We arrived, pitched our tents, fired up our stoves, started melting snow for water, and cooked a great dinner. Now we’re getting ready for bed.
Tomorrow our plan is to climb up the fixed ropes to High Camp, gaining just over 3,000 ft.. Then we will settle into High Camp around 12,400 ft. and see what the weather brings. We are both doing well here! It’s a beautiful day on Mount Vinson – sunny / no wind. We are the only ones here in camp, so we have the mountain to ourselves! It’s really special to be here.
We will check in soon. Thanks!
(photo: Vinson 2019 team two from earlier this week)
Our Vinson expedition team had a big day today as reported by expedition leader, Garrett Madison:
Hello! This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition team number two.
Today is Friday, January 11th and we have reached Union Glacier camp! We had a great day descending from our high camp on Mount Vinson all the way down to Vinson base camp. And then we were picked up by a Twin Otter aircraft and flown back to Union Glacier camp where we all are now tucked into our tents and looking forward to a good night’s rest.
The team will be here at Union Glacier camp for a few days until the scheduled flight back to Punta Arenas on the Ilyushin-76 aircraft on January 14th. So all’s well here, everybody’s doing great. We had a wonderful summit day, again yesterday. Everyone made it to the top and down safe and we had wonderful views of Antarctica from the highest point on the continent.
Thank so much for following along.
(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives)
100% summit success reported by expedition leader Garrett Madison:
Hello! This is Garrett calling in for the Mount Vinson expedition team two. Today, January 10th, our entire team made it up to the summit of Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. We got to the top around 4:00 PM today – myself, Conan Bliss, Shawn, Fon, Linda, and Paul. We had a great day, nice views from the top, a little breezy up there, but not too bad. Everyone made it safe back down to High Camp. We had a good dinner here at High Camp: some salmon and some potatoes and noodles.
Our plan is to head down to Vinson Base Camp tomorrow, on the 11th of January. And then, from there, hopefully soon after to Union Glacier Camp. Everyone is doing great, we had a wonderful summit day, very thankful for the good weather and that everyone made it to the top and back down safely. We will check-in soon.
(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives – reusing last’s year’s summit pose — we will post photo’s when the team is back in Chile)
As the team readies for their summit attempt, team member Linda gets the honors and provides today’s dispatch from High Camp on Mount Vinson:
Hello, this is Linda calling in from the Madison Mountaineering Vinson team two. We had a wonderful day here at High Camp, resting, enjoying the scenery, and getting ready for our summit attempt tomorrow. The weather looks beautiful! We just had our summit talk and a good dinner and we are getting ready to settle in. We are going to get up early and hopefully head to the summit tomorrow!!
Sending our love to friends and family!
(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives)