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Heading off to begin the final rotation

Our 2021 K2 expedition is now concluded with just Garrett and our crew preparing to fly home.  Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, calls in from Skardu, Pakistan with this final expedition dispatch:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering K2 expedition which now has concluded!

We’re back in Skardu and all of our members from the UK, the USA, and Ukraine have flown out and are back home now. Just myself and the Nepal Sherpa team and the Pakastani team are here in Skardu. We arrived last night from the trek out from base camp to Skardu. It took us four days.

Today we did some gear organizing, and some sight-seeing around Skardu. We are hoping tomorrow that we have good weather to fly to Islamabad. All’s well here in Skardu. Nice weather and we are looking forward to getting back to Islamabad and on our way home.

It’s been a wonderful expedition here. We had 100% summit success with 21 summits of K2 on our team in total and everyone made it down safely and is on their way home healthy, which is the most important.

So, we had a wonderful expedition. Thanks for following along. Looking forward to our next expeditions out there on the horizon.

Starry skies above K2

Starry skies above K2

The day we set off from base camp for the K2 summit push. Serious faces..

The day we set off from base camp for the K2 summit push. Serious faces..

A very happy 3-time K2 summiteer at base camp

A very happy 3-time K2 summiteer at base camp

After getting down from the successful K2 summit rotation, happy face!

After getting down from the successful K2 summit rotation, happy face!

Garrett with Sherpa and Pakistani crew departing K2 base camp

Garrett with Sherpa and Pakistani crew departing K2 base camp

Cutting the celebratory K2 cake in Skardu

Cutting the celebratory K2 cake in Skardu

Post K2 celebration in Skardu

Post-K2 celebration in Skardu

If climbing K2 or Broad Peak is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Flying down the Baltoro Glacier at the conclusion of the K2 expedition

Well how do we sum up our Madison Mountaineering K2 2021 expedition?

Today Chase, Becks, Jon and Rob flew from K2 Base Camp to Skardu on 2 helicopters with the Pakistan Army. The flight was spectacular, skimming low down the rugged Baltoro Glacier, where we had trekked up several weeks before. Leaving the cloud capped K2 behind us, we sped past the 3 summits of Broad Peak, before swooping right at Concordia. We strained our necks out the side windows as the soaring granite bulks of Cathedral, Trango and Uili Biaho zipped past. Sights we had taken days to approach and march past on the way in to Base Camp, as we each personally contemplated what lay ahead.

Now we were completing the return journey, content with our efforts and the conclusion we all hoped for but knew was unlikely. Our entire team had safely and successfully climbed K2 to its summit and returned to Base Camp. Rarely are expeditions harmonious, safe and successful in their objective. However K2 2021 was just that. A small team of dedicated climbers were happy to commit despite uncertainty and no guaranteed outcome. The odds of summiting K2 in any year are low. At times in the lead up, the odds of this trip simply running seemed low. But problems were overcome, and the team assembled a week behind the original schedule.

We acclimatized, ropes were fixed in stages and our Sherpa team worked hard. We had an extended wait of 12 days waiting for the right weather window. Patience was tested as other teams attempted Broad Peak while we waited.

On 28 July all decisions were vindicated as we climbed steadily in the darkness, under a starlit sky. The sunrise lit the horizon like a band of gold as the sky lightened to reveal a sea of cloud over China. We reached the summit in windless conditions, and it was hard to believe the top of K2 could feel so benign. Relief was palpable and the whole team spent as much time on the summit as they desired in this unique place. Congratulations were exchanged, embraces given, prayer flags were strung out, photographs taken and quiet moments of contemplation had.

The descent was as testing as the summit was benign. It felt that K2 wanted to remind us that attempting a climb was as serious an undertaking as ever, though we needed no reminder. Snow had been stripped off the lower slopes, removing the frozen bond that held the mass of rocks safely in place. It was a relief to get everyone to the base of the mountain the following day, and we walked down the glacier knowing we had been allowed to leave the clutches of K2.

It is somewhat of a shock to find ourselves suddenly in Skardu, in the presence of strangers and unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. Such are the ends of expeditions where intense shared experience and close communal living comes to an end, replaced by new encounters with those who have little idea of what has been invested or endured to reach a point meaningless to the majority, but absolutely worthwhile and so memorable to those who stand there. We have set foot on top of K2 and shall remember that for the rest of our lives.

Rob Smith and the Madison Mountaineering K2 2021 team.

Helis at K2 Base Camp

Helis at K2 Base Camp

Chase, Jon, and Becks back in Skardu after flying from K2 base camp

Chase, Jon, and Becks back in Skardu after flying from K2 base camp

Remainder of our K2 team preparing to depart base camp

We’re packing up base camp and our expedition team is heading home after an incredibly successful and safe K2 climb. Here’s the latest from Garrett Madison:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering K2 expedition team. Today is August 3rd.

Today the remainder of our members flew out of K2 base camp by helicopter and it’s just me left with our Pakistani and Nepal Sherpa team here in base camp. We’re going to pack up and head out the day after tomorrow with our mule train back to Skardu.

Nice weather today but we decided not to go for Broad Peak due to the snow fall and high winds that had made the route seemingly very challenging and a very low probability of success. But we’re very happy with our K2 summit success and everyone getting down safely.

Everyone is heading home now. We had a great expedition! We’ll be packing up here and heading down the

in the next few days, back towards Skardu.

All’s well here in Pakistan. Thanks!

If climbing K2 or Broad Peak is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

K2 summit celebration at base camp

Party-time at K2 base camp!  Our own, guide extraordinaire, Conan Bliss calls in with today’s expedition dispatch:

Yeah, hey!  This is Conan Bliss checking-in with Madison Mountaineering.  Hey everybody!   Woo!

We’re having a fun, relaxing recovery day here at base camp after a successful K2 summit two days ago.  Woohoo!  Yup, and today we gotta celebrate Kenton Cool‘s birthday.  Yeah!!  Yup, another young man in the group!  Anyways, everyone’s doing very well.

Thanks again for following us on this amazing expedition.  We’ll check-in with you later!

Kenton and his birthday cake at K2 base camp. Make a wish!

Kenton and his birthday cake at K2 base camp. Make a wish!

Conan pouring the champagne!

Conan pouring the champagne!

Guide Rob Smith cuts the K2 Summit Celebration cake!

Guide Rob Smith cuts the K2 Summit Celebration cake!

If climbing K2 or Broad Peak is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Conan, Rob, and Garrett on the summit of K2!

The full K2 team is now safely back to base camp and getting so very, very much deserved and needed rest.  Outstanding climb one and all!  Thank you, weather Gods.  Before falling into a deep slumber, expedition leader Garrett Madison provided this recap of the descent to base camp:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Madison Mountaineering K2 expedition team.  Today is July 29th and we have all arrived safely back in base camp.

Yesterday we summitted K2.  It was a perfect day, just a magical experience on top with our whole team – 100% success!  We came down to Camp 3 and today descended from Camp 3 all the way down to base camp.  So, just very happy that everyone is down, off the mountain safely and back in base camp.  We’re just thrilled with the outcome here on K2!

We’re gonna have a celebration dinner tonight and a good night’s rest, some showers, and think about further plans – either heading out or, perhaps, attempting Broad Peak depending on conditions.

We’re very happy to be down off the mountain and back in base camp.  All’s well here.  Thanks for following along!

Morning views on the way to the top of K2!

Morning views on the way to the top of K2!

Three time K2 summiteer Garrett Madison with with youngest American K2 summiteer Chase M.

Three-time K2 summiteer Garrett Madison with the youngest American K2 summiteer Chase M.

Happy team on the summit of K2!

Happy team on the summit of K2!

At The Bottleneck on K2 on the way down

At The Bottleneck on K2 on the way down

If climbing K2 or Broad Peak is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Climbing to Camp 1 on First Rotation

Early this morning our Everest team began their first acclimatization rotation up the mountain by leaving out of base camp about 2:00 AM.  Climbing by headlight through the Khumbu Icefall they reached the mid-point (5727m) around 6:10 AM and pulled into a well-prepared Camp 1 (6059m/19,879ft) after climbing for 8-1/2 hours at 10:30 AM.

Unfortunately, the satellite modem was being a bit finicky so we have just the one photo (by Terray Sylvester) so far, but they will be spending two nights there at Camp 1, so expect to see and hear more before they move further up the Western Cwm to Camp 2 in the coming days.

If climbing Mount Everest is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Evening View of a snowy Everest base camp

The Everest team took a rest day at base camp today while they waited for the snowstorm to move out.  Expedition leader, Garrett Madison provides the day’s summary:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Everest expedition team.  We’re in Mount Everest base camp and we had a great day here just resting up.  The snow storm finally abated today about 4 or 5 pm, just before dinner time.  It lasted since yesterday midday and we had about a foot of fresh snow accumulate here in base camp, larger in some spots with the spindrift.  It was nice to have the sky clear up finially and get some good views.

We are looking forward to a good day tomorrow.  We’re going to get prepared tomorrow for our move up to Camp I and II.

Everyone’s doing well in base camp.  We are just happy to be here, having a great time – another great day, good meals, and a good movie.  Everyone’s doing well and we’ll check in soon.

Evening View of a snowy Everest base camp

Evening view of a snow-covered Everest base camp

If climbing Mount Everest is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Guides Kumar and Ming Dorchi on the summit of Island Peak

The featured photo (above) is guides Kumar and Ming Dorchi on the summit of Island Peak with climber Rich D. earlier in the week.  Congrats Rich!!  For the recap of the snowy day at EBC, here’s Everest guide Terray Sylvester:

Hello, this Terray calling in again for the 2021 Madison Mountaineering Mount Everest expedition.  It’s Wednesday, April 21st.

Today the forecast dictated that we spend a rest day in camp and defer, for at least one day, our ascent to Camp I.  So we spent the morning going over some descending techniques down in the ice pyramids just below base camp.  We practiced arm-wrap descending and repelling with a belay device, just to make sure that everyone’s efficient with those techniques when it comes time to actually descend the Lhotse face or descent through the Khumbu Icefall.

Just as we were arriving back at camp it started to snow.  It’s about 7:30 now and it’s not actively snowing, but we got anywhere from four to six inches on the ground.  And certainly more where it’s drifted up against the tents.  Base camp has transformed from the rocky glacial landscape that it has been to a sort of snowly winter wonderland — it’s actually beautiful.

We just wrapped up dinner.  Tonight it was pasta, green beans, and filet mignon.  Then a desert of canned peaches.  Now we’ll settle in with a movie.

Before dinner we also did a weather forecast presentation.  We recieve detailed daily forecasts, so we put those up on the projector and work through that in detail.  Just so everyone knows what’s in store for the next few days.

Right now it looks like we’ll probably see more snow coming in on the 22nd, which means that may yet again delay our ascent to Camp I.  But after that, it looks like we’ll have some high pressure and clear skys and hopefully great conditions for climbing.

Okay, we’ll be in touch!

If climbing Mount Everest is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

The Everest team took their first foray into the Khumbu Icefall today and Everest/Lhotse guide, Terray Sylvester, has all the details:

Hello!  This is Terray calling in for the 2021 Madison Mountaineering Mount Everest expedition.  It’s Tuesday, April 20th.

Today we took our first foray up into the Khumbu Icefall.  We left after breakfast and accended to about 18,500 ft.  We had beatiful weather and great conditions in the Icefall.  It was a great chance for our climbers to practise the ascending and repelling skills that they’ll need when we actually do head all the way up through the Icefall to Camp I.

Today we went approximately a third, or maybe a quarter, of the way to Camp I.  And yeah, the weather was beautiful today, but it looks like we have some snow coming in tomorrow so we’ve delayed our actual accent to Camp I until, most likely, the day after tomorrow.

But, all is well here in base camp and we will be in touch!

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

Climbing into the lower part of the Khumbu Icefall

If climbing Mount Everest is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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

Climbing team at Prayer Flag Point above EBC

Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, reports on the day’s activities for the team at Everest base camp which included an acclimatization hike up to Prayer Flag Point:

Hello, this is Garrett calling in for the Mount Everest and Lhotse expedition team.  We are in Everest base camp.  He had a good day today.  We changed our plans slightly because there was some activity in the Icefall.  We were going to go for a walk in the Icefall today, but instead, we went on another acclimatization hike – just outside of base camp to Prayer Flag Point.  We had some great views, good exercise, came back for lunch, had a restful afternoon, and had dinner.  We just finished watching Top Gun tonight – a great Amercian film.

Our Sherpa team is doing well.  They had a big day today on the mountain and we’re going to take an easy day tomorrow.  We are going to go for a little walk in the Icefall but not too far, just explore the bottom part for two hours and then back to base camp.

All’s well here with our team in base camp and we’re looking forward to another nice day here on Mount Everest.

Team acclimatization hike above EBC

Team acclimatization hike above EBC

If climbing Mount Everest is in your future, please contact our office, we would love to have you climb with us!


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 Garrett Madison’s daily audio expedition updates on select expeditions.  Just say, “Alexa, play my Madison Mountaineering flash briefing.

Instagram:

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