Garrett Madison checks in with the Polar Explorers Mount Vinson expedition team. Our team climbed up to high camp in a single push and had a nice dinner before bunkering down for the night. The weather is holding good and the team will probably take rest day tomorrow before their summit attempt the following day. The team is doing well and everyone is enjoying their time in magical Antarctica.
Madison Mountaineering is a partner with Polar Explorer’s for this expedition.
After completing a ski trip to the South Pole, our second Vinson team departed Union Glacier Camp for the Ellsworth Mountains. After arriving at Vinson the team quickly moved up to low camp. Tomorrow our team will enjoy a rest day while reviewing technical climbing skills for the upper mountain ascent. All is well on Vinson and fingers crossed for the beautiful weather to continue!
Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison
After a quick Twin Otter flight back to Union Glacier Camp, the Mount Vinson team took off on the Russian Ilushyn 76 for Punta Arenas, Chile. Congratulations to our climbers for reaching the highest point in Antarctica at 4,892m / 16,050ft!
Garrett will remain at Union Glacier Camp until the following team arrives from a ski trip to the South Pole. All is well on the ice and we will check in soon!
Audio dispatch from Garrett Madison
Our Antarctica expedition team has safely made the ascent to Camp 1 on Mt. Vinson in the Ellsworth mountain range. Mt. Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica, approx. 600 miles from the South Pole and over 1,200 miles from the beginning of the Antarctic Peninsula. Garrett Madison reports beautiful conditions and a strong team as they move up the mountain. Today our climbers will either have a rest day or complete a carry of supplies and food up higher on the mountain. All is well in Antarctica and our climbers will check in soon!
Our Mount Vinson climbers left Punta Arenas, Chile and have now arrived to Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica. The Union Glacier Camp is a seasonally occupied research and expedition staging site located in Ellsworth Land in Antarctica. The camp is located in the Heritage Range, south of the Ellsworth Mountains.
Garrett Madison checks in below after a night flight into Union Glacier Camp. The team will now organize their equipment before flying over to Mount Vinson in a couple hours. Our climbers plan to move up to low camp after a couple days of training with favorable weather conditions in the forecasts.
Happy New Years! : )
Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have taken-off from the blue ice runway and successfully bring to an end their Vinson Massif expedition. In three weeks our climbers have traversed the earth’s southernmost continent, scaled polar glaciers across the Sentinel Range, and summited one of the world’s 7 Summits. Our team was a part of aviation history the moment they touched down on the first Boeing 757 in Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica. In total, our tour team traveled the skies on a Boeing 757, Russian Ilyushin Il-76, DHC-6 Twin Otter, and a Douglas DC3. Pretty impressive!
Congratulations to Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd for reaching new high’s, I hope the journey is onward and upward for all. Enjoy the photos taken by Garrett Madison below 🙂
“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”
― David McCullough Jr.
Thanks for following!
About to leave Antarctica on the Ilushin 76.
Building snow walls to fortify our tents, Todd carrying a big snow block.
Climbing the fixed ropes, Michael in front, Sam behind.
Climbing the fixed ropes.
Good times in the cook tent, Inaki & Mike.
Onboard the twin otter leaving Vinson Base Camp, MIchael, Sam, Todd, Inaki, Garrett.
Our MH Trango Tents holding up well in Antarctica!
Our MH Trango tents holding up well on the mountain.
Sam cooking french fries!
Team at base camp, Garrett, Mike, Todd, Sam, Inaki
Team at Vinson Base Camp.
Team on the summit, Garrett, Todd, Michael, Sam!
The Mount Vinson team is in route to rondevu in Patagonia! I’ve been here two days and have enjoyed the vibrant architecture and bustling downtown city. Punta Arenas is a departure point for many wishing to experience the Patagonia region. Today my morning walk on the Brunswick Peninsula unveiled fishermen, kayakers, longboarders and adventure photographers enjoying the beautiful sunrise across the horizon. Among the many attractions in Punta Arena, my favorites have been the monument erected on the main square to Ferdinand Magellan, the Seaside Walkway at sunrise and the renowned Dreams Casino and Hotel (pictures below). Tomorrow our team of global explorers will begin to arrive. This is my tenth expedition to the frozen continent and I’m excited as I’ve ever been. We have journeyed to el fin del mundo (“the end of the world”), and we are about to go further.
Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader
Dreams Casino and Hotel ~ they are well known for a beautiful view from the Skybar!
Colorful houses along the waterfront in Punta Arenas. Along the water you can see the Seaside Walkway. In the horizon is the Strait of Magellan. This navigable sea route separates mainland South America to the north and Tierra del Fuego to the south.
Selk’nam Patagonian Indian ~ a popular tradition says that those who kiss or touch the Indian’s toe will come back to Patagonia one day. Had to do it!
A statue in the Plaza of Punta Arenas memorializes the nearly-vanished Yamanas tribespeople.
Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region and is among the largest cities in the entire Patagonian Region. Patagonia is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains as well as the deserts, steppes and grasslands east of this southern portion of the Andes.
Madison Mountaineering is among a very select few companies that operate mountaineering expeditions in Antarctica, which includes expeditions on Mount Vinson.
Garrett Madison has led 16 successful expeditions to Mt. Vinson over the last 12 years. Each of these climbs was successful in reaching the top of Mount Vinson, the highest point in Antarctica. Madison Mountaineering’s approach to leading small and self-sufficient teams allows us the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in Antarctica and accommodate the needs of our climbers. Our ’expedition style’ approach on Vinson provides climbers with the relevant climbing and expedition experience to apply on bigger and more challenging peaks throughout the world.
Who is your guide?
In addition to leading 16 climbs of Mt. Vinson, Garrett Madison has led ten successful climbs of Mt. Everest, two on K2, and many other expeditions around the globe. Garrett is a pleasant person to spend time with and is perhaps one of the best ‘expedition leaders’ in regards to balancing climber safety, reaching the summit, and having a great time throughout the program.
The Journey to Vinson
Our journey begins in the Tierra del Fuego (Spanish for “Land of Fire”) in Chile’s southernmost city of Punta Arenas, located on the strait of Magellan. A large statue of the famous explorer towers over the town square. Legend has it that those who kiss the statue are destined to return! After a briefing with our flight logistics operator, we depart in an Ilyushin 76 Russian cargo jet and fly 4 ½ hours over the Drake passage and then over a large part of the Antarctic continent, landing on a large strip of blue ice nearby the Union Glacier camp. We generally spend a day or two here then fly via twin otter aircraft 45 minutes to Vinson base camp, where we begin our climb.
Part of the Ellsworth mountain range, Mt. Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica, approx. 600 miles from the South Pole and over 1,200 miles from the beginning of the Antarctic Peninsula. Traveling to Antarctica is an incredible experience in itself, as most Antarctic tourists merely catch a glimpse of the Antarctic peninsula from a cruise ship. Vinson climbers actually fly onto the continent (an opportunity normally only reserved for government-funded scientists or support personnel) and experience the surreal environment of inland Antarctica. A pristine land of ice, snow, and rock, Antarctica is actually a desert, with the least precipitation of any continent on Earth. At our intermediate camp in Antarctica located on Union Glacier, we have the opportunity to interact with other Antarctic explorers as well as scientists doing meaningful research in their fields.
We break the ascent of Vinson into several stages. With two higher camps above our base camp, we have the opportunity to acclimate along the way and rest during the ascent. Most of the climbing is on glaciated slopes, with one full day on a steep snow and ice slope utilizing fixed ropes. The final day to the top involves climbing the summit ridge with amazing views of the surrounding peaks as well as looking to the horizon of ice as far as the eye can see. Generally, we have stable weather during the climbing season of December and January, as this is the summer season in the southern hemisphere with 24 hours of daylight in Antarctica. The average temperature is well below 0°F, and occasionally the winds can reach up to 40 mph. Climbers should have experience climbing in cold conditions, be comfortable carrying a 40 lb. backpack, and possess appropriate glacier travel experience. Please contact us to discuss the prerequisites for this expedition.
• Your mountain guide will meet you in Punta Arenas to conduct your gear check and be with you for the entire program (other companies have you meet your guide at the mountain).
• Small team size, with a maximum of five climbers with one guide.
• Flexibility to adjust to changing mountain conditions, as well as possible flight delays.
• The best food on the mountain. Garrett Madison is famous for his signature meals on Vinson that never disappoint! (Think eggs, pancakes, and bacon for breakfast, meat, fish, with vegetables and a rice or potato dish for dinner)
• Expert leadership throughout.
• A dedicated and extremely knowledgeable person of contact in the Madison Mountaineering office to assist with any pre-trip questions.
• A travel agent well versed in booking flights for Vinson climbers, and available to make changes should you choose to change your itinerary.
• Regular dispatches: Keep family members and friends informed through our daily dispatch from the mountain accessed on our website.
We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size. Please contact us if you would like to know more about custom programs.
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 Vinson base camp, establish base camp.
Day 6: Climb to Camp 1, establish camp.
Day 7: Rest in Camp 1 and review fixed line climbing techniques.
Day 8: Climb up the Branscomb ridge, carrying a load to our Camp 2, return to Camp 1 for the night.
Day 9: Climb to Camp 2 and establish camp.
Day 10: Rest in Camp 2; evaluate weather conditions for a summit attempt.
Day 11: Summit day! We climb the glaciated slopes to the summit ridge, and then traverse the ridgeline to the highest point in Antarctica. Return to Camp 2 for the night.
Day 12: Descend from Camp 2 to Vinson Base Camp, spend the night at VBC.
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 Vinson Climb: $43,625
Nov 24, 2019
Dec 05, 2019
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 27, 2019 — with Conrad Anker
Jan 07, 2020
• Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
• All flights within Antarctica to reach Vinson 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. Vinson 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!