Tag Archive for: Ellsworth Mountains

Over the past four days our Mount Vinson climbing team has been pinned by high winds on the mountain. With gail force winds reaching over 50 knots, Garrett and team have decided to wait out the weather and enjoy an extended stay on the tallest mountain in Antarctica. Currently Garrett and team have the whole mountain to themselves, as they are the only team on the mountain the last four days. Shoutout to Mountain Hardwear for the field tested Trango 3 expedition tent for withstanding these conditions over the past four days. Our team has also put to use the extremely warm Ghost -40 degree F sleeping bags which have kept our team nice and cozy throughout the day. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have plenty of food and fuel and are making the most of their adventure of a lifetime. Tomorrow the forecast is calling for reduced winds down to 25 knots, which will allow our team to make the descent down to Vinson Base Camp. Onward!

For family and friends of the climbers, I can be reached at any point in regard to this expedition at andrew@madisonmountaineering.com


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Wednesday, December 9


Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 expedition tents at High Camp on Mount Vinson, keeping our team warm and safe!

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Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd took a rest day at high camp after their summit ascent yesterday. The team had a beautiful summit day with gorgeous views and no wind, allowing the whole team to make it to the top. Once Garrett and team arrived back at Camp 2 the winds picked up considerably and the team decided to enjoy a rest day instead of making the descent with high winds. Depending on tomorrow’s conditions the team will climb down to Mt. Vinson base camp, but could end up staying 2-3 additional days in order to make a safe descent. Our team has plenty of food and fuel and will be checking in tomorrow!


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Monday, December 7


Beautiful view of Antarctica yesterday!

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Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd are currently climbing to the summit of Antarctica! Mount Vinson is the highest peak in Antarctica, at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft). It lies in the north part of Vinson Massif’s summit plateau in the south portion of the main ridge of the Sentinel Range. Yesterday our climbing team set up Camp 2 as their staging point for the summit push. Waking up at 7am Garrett and team prepared to depart for the summit. Weather reports show terrific weather conditions and clear skies for our team. To the top!


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Sunday, December 6


The team enjoyed bright, clear, and sunny conditions on the Branscomb Glacier today! This beautiful  antarctic glacier flows west from the north-west side of Vinson Massif into Nimitz Glacier, in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd made use of the change in weather conditions and continued the ascent up Mount Vinson. Temperatures have increased considerably which allowed our team to enjoy the scenery in the near 24 hours of sunshine! Garrett and team safely traversed the fixed lines and transported gear up to the top of the Branscomb Glacier in preparation for moving to Camp 2 tomorrow. After a successful day, our climbing team enjoyed salmon, pork chops, french fries and vegetables. Eating well and storing up high quality energy for the upcoming summit push! Garrett and team plan to climb to Camp 2 tomorrow and make a summit push in 2-3 days depending on the upcoming weather conditions. Forecasts show for low winds and warmer temperatures. To the top!


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Friday, December 4


Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd successfully executed a carry up the Branscomb Glacier. Tomorrow the team will climb back up the fixed lines and set up Camp 2!

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Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd spent the day exploring vast glaciated slopes on Mount Vinson. With crampons and fixed lines our team reviewed the crucial skills that will be used in the upcoming summit push. Camp 1 has been established and fortified to endure the elements, keeping our team warm and safe tonight. Garrett and team continue to enjoy the adventure of exploring Antarctica as they make their way up Mount Vinson. Weather has been stable today and forecasts predict the same tomorrow. The climate on Mount Vinson is generally controlled by the polar ice cap’s high-pressure system, creating predominantly stable conditions but, as in any polar climate, high winds and snowfall do occur quickly. Tomorrow our team plans to do a carry of gear up to Camp 2. To the top!

Interesting fact:  In 1961, the Vinson Massif was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, for Carl G. Vinson, a Georgia congressman for his support for Antarctic exploration.


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Thursday, December 3


Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd ventured out from Camp 1 and enjoyed the spectacular glacier views around them!

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Breathtaking NASA image of Vinson Massif from space! The limited amount of snow that falls on Vinson Massif compacts and is transformed into ice, forming the glaciers our team is climbing on.


With a change in weather, Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have successfully made the ascent to Camp 1 at 9,154 feet! After two days at Vinson Base Camp, the team was very excited to push onward. Garrett and team made the eight hour push through cold and breezy conditions before arriving at Camp 1. Other than the wind, todays weather report on Mount Vinson was clear and sunny. Quickly after arriving the team set up camp and started warming up with a hot dinner prepared by Garrett.

Tomorrow our team will enjoy a rest day and let their bodies recover and continue to acclimatize to todays elevation gain. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd will work together tomorrow to develop a strategy for reaching Camp 2, with factors including weather and overall route conditions. Everyone is doing well and in high spirit!


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Wednesday, December 2


Climbing across glaciated slopes on Mount Vinson.

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Looks pretty similar to “The Wall” from Game of Thrones! This gorgeous shot was take during the ascent to Camp 1. Onward!

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Antarctica’s Mount Vinson base camp population is beginning to grow as multiple teams wait for the heavy winds and below freezing temperatures to pass. Winds today were recorded at 30 knots, or roughly 35 mph, with the temperature down to -20 degrees fahrenheit. Beyond the weather, the team had a very productive day. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd worked together to fortify their tents by creating snow bricks of sort, then creating a wall to deflect the wind. Afterward, Garrett and team enjoyed an exploratory climb to a local peak in the Ellsworth Mountains. The team is doing well and enjoying the opportunity to spend time on this secluded continent.

Dispatch below from our Expedition Leader ~ Garrett Madison

Note: It appears that the weather conditions or the connection with the satellites breaks up the call for the first 5-10 seconds. After this time the quality improves.


Tuesday, December 1

Greetings from Mount Vinson Base Camp, Antarctica! Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd have flown safely from Union Glacier Camp to base camp today. The team enjoyed a crystal clear day while preparing their gear for departure. From a Douglas DC3 in Union Glacier Camp, the team made the quick flight to a closer staging area near Vinson Massif. After which they boarded a DHC-6 Twin Otter that transported the team closer to the mountain. The day was sunny and provided spectacular views of the Ellsworth Mountains for our team. Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd worked together to build a large snow wall to protect their camp from the expected 50mph winds tomorrow. After setting up camp our team enjoyed a delicious dinner of pork chops and settled in for the night. Tomorrow the team will review rope travel, ice axe arrest, and crevasse rescue techniques in preparation for the next push to Camp 1. Onward!

Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader


Our team’s arrival into Union Glacier Camp on the first ever 757. Business class seats all the way to Antarctica! Photo captured by: Adventure Network International.


Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica.

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Beautiful photo on this sunny day!!

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Douglas DC3 at Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica.

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Union Glacier Camp Tent

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Union Glacier Camp with the Ellsworth Mountains behind.

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Gorgeous shot of Union Glacier Camp!!

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Our climbing team preparing for the ascent!

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Visual of Antarctica. North is straight up. Images by Google Earth.

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Visual representation of our climbing team’s flight travels today. Starting below at Union Glacier Camp our team flew up to Vinson Massif base camp. Images by Google Earth.


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Our Vinson Massif climbing team took the first Boeing 757 ride to Union Glacier, Antarctica! This was a huge upgrade in comfort compared to years past in the Ilyushin IL76-TD, we enjoyed business class seating on the way to blue-ice runway in Antarctica. This Boeing 757 flight was taken on to prove the feasibility of landing commercial passenger airliners at Union Glacier, Antarctica. This is a part of a larger project into the use of such aircraft for continued Antarctic operations. We are now preparing our gear and getting ready to fly again tomorrow. We will fly via twin otter aircraft 45 minutes to Vinson Base Camp where be begin our climb.

Check out additional photos of the 757 touching down in Union Glacier here. Our friends at Adventure Network International were able to get some awesome pictures!

For family members and friends ~ Andrew Tierney can be reached during this expedition at andrew@madisonmountaineering.com

Let the journey begin!

Garrett Madison ~ Expedition Leader


Mike,Garrett, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd with boarding passes & penguins at our flight briefing in Punta Arenas. Yes, we are bringing penguins to Antarctica 🙂



Boeing 757-200 ER preparing for takeoff from Punta Arenas!  The landing was a joint partnership between Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), Loftleidir Icelandic, and NAS Corporation Limited.



Loading up this Boeing 757-200 ER and heading to Union Glacier! What a ride!!