Tag: Glacier

Today Garrett, Mike, Sam, Iñaki, and Todd reached the summit of Antarctica at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft). With clear skies our team enjoyed spectacular 360 degree views! A truly “magical” experience. Mount Vinson is more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the South Pole, making it the most remote of the Seven Summits. It was also the last discovered, last climbed, and last named of the Seven Summits. Mount Vinson is named for U.S. Representative Carl Vinson of Georgia, who served in Congress from 1935 to 1961 and was the former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He was a influential lobbyist for government funding of American exploration in Antarctica. After an early morning summit push, Garrett and team were able to make it to the summit and enjoy the stabilized weather conditions which the team took advantage of. Now resting at Camp 2 with moderate winds, the team is preparing for tomorrows continued descent toward Union Glacier Camp.

Great job team!!


Audio Dispatch from Garrett Madison ~ Sunday, December 6


Garrett and team approaching the highest peak in Antarctica, at 4,892 meters (16,050 ft)!

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Summit of Mount Vinson!

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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.


Hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend! We said good bye to our trekking team that accompanied us all the way from our start in Kathmandu to our base camp here at Gokyo’s fifth lake. It was hard to say goodbye after the last ten days of trekking together in the Khumbu region of Nepal. They are now heading towards Cho La Pass and then onwards to Mount Everest base camp before returning to Lukla and then Kathmandu.
Our climbing team organized equipment at base camp today and took a walkabout around camp, scouting the glacier we will cross when we make our move towards our advanced base camp on our summit push. Our base camp is a very beautiful setting, with a nearby lake, and high peaks on all sides. A team of our Sherpa guides along with Madison Mountaineering guide Sid Pattison left today to head to advanced base camp. Tomorrow they will work on establishing the route to camp 1, at the top of the rock buttress, the first major technical section of the climb. This climbing involves around two thousand feet of steep snow and an ice arête (description and imagery here), after which we can establish our first high camp. Everyone is doing well and we look forward to our next acclimatization hike tomorrow.
View of glacier above camp:
Acclimatization hike:
View of Mount Everest from our base camp:
Burke Khang Base Camp:
Team exploring near base camp:
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Aconcagua, the “Stone Sentinel”, is located in Argentina near the border of Chile, and is the highest mountain outside of Asia. We climb a less traveled route that allows for more acclimatization, and while we may use our ice axe and crampons occasionally, this climb does not require ‘roping up.’ Climbers have the option to hire porters to assist with load carrying, as Aconcagua can be a very demanding high altitude climb.

Madison Mountaineering offers the highest standard in climbing Aconcagua by combining expert guides, a well thought out strategy, and excellent support throughout the expedition. Our guides are very experienced leading expeditions on Aconcagua, and spend days before hand organizing the food and equipment for the climb. Although we do not rope up, Aconcagua is a very serious undertaking. Our approach is to properly acclimatize and then attempt the summit with enough extra days built in for bad weather, whereas many climbers try to rush the ascent and are turned around by altitude illness or high winds that prevent reaching the summit when time is limited. We have a very close relationship and daily communication with our Argentine outfitter who provides services such as the mules that transport our gear to base camp, our own private dining tent in base camp, and the porters who are available to assist us transporting gear to our high camps. We keep our teams small, and ensure that climbers have the best chance to reach the summit while remaining safe. Garrett Madison has reached the summit of Aconcagua on nearly each of his 11 expeditions, and has perfected what he believes is the optimum strategy for leading a team to reach the summit.

We begin on the eastern side of the mountain, by trekking along the Vacas River to Plaza Argentina base camp. From here we ascend the non technical false polish and then upper Guanacos route to our high camp. On summit day we climb to Independencia refuge, then traverse the western slope, ascend the Canaleta, and reach the summit ridge leading to the highest point in the Americas. We descend into the Horcones valley and exit out of the western side of Aconcagua, nearly circumnavigating the entire peak.

Prerequisites: Climbers should have trekking or back packing experience. Technical training in how to use ice axe and crampons is a plus, but not necessary as we will review these skills once on the mountain. Top physical conditioning is important as this is a strenuous climb at high altitude.

Photo Credit: Wenny Sánchez

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 Mendoza, transfer to Park Hyatt Hotel. Your guide will meet with you and conduct an orientation, equipment check, then gather the group for a welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant.

Day 2: After breakfast we visit the Aconcagua Park office and obtain our climbing permits, then drive to Penitentes, usually having lunch along the way. Upon arriving the Ayelen hotel we discuss the strategy for the climb before relaxing and enjoying another Argentine style dinner.

Day 3: We begin our trek not far from the hotel at Punta de Vaca, the entrance to the Vacas Valley (8,000’) and trek along the river stopping to enjoy a picnic style lunch. We arrive at Pampa de Lena camp (9,200’). Here we have a traditional open fire barbeque under the stars near the riverside.

Day 4: We awake early and continue the trek, marveling at the scenic landscape of the far away valley walls. After another picnic style lunch we finally have our first view of the summit, then arrive Casa de Piedra Camp (10,560’), another scenic riverside camp.

Day 5: After an early morning river crossing (with river shoes or by mule) we leave the Vacas Valley and begin the steep trek up the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina base camp (13,900’). Upon arriving in base camp we are greeted by our friendly outfitter and a warm meal! The mules will deposit our gear and head out. We spend the first of our 3 nights at base camp.

Day 6: We rest in base camp and organize our loads for the higher camps. A short acclimatization hike up a nearby peak is optional.

Day 7: After breakfast we carry a load of equipment up to Camp 1 (16,100’) to deposit and then we return to base camp to spend the night.

Day 8: After breakfast we say good bye to our Argentine friends at base camp and climb up to Camp 1 (16,100’) to spend the night.

Day 9: We carry a load of gear, food, and clothing to our Camp 2 (18,000’), then return to Camp 1 to spend the night.

Day 10: Today we normally rest in Camp 1 to recover from the previous day’s climb and allow our bodies to generate more red blood cells.

Day 11: Move to Camp 2 (18,000’). From here we can see many snow capped peaks of the Andes.

Day 12: Rest in Camp 2, organize loads for carry to Camp 3.

Day 13: Carry to Camp 3 (19,600’) and return to Camp 2 to spend the night.

Day 14: Move to Camp 3 (19,600’). Upon reaching high camp we enjoy spectacular sunsets to the west over Chile.

Day 15: Rest in Camp 3.

Day 16: Summit day! We awake early and set off for the summit, usually arriving at the top around 2 PM. We savor the view from the highest peak in the Americas, then descend back to our high camp and spend the night.

Day 17: Extra day in case of bad weather, acclimatization, etc.

Day 18: Descend from our Camp 3 to Plaza de Mulas base camp (13,800’).

Day 19: Trek to Horcones trail head, transfer to the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes. Here we have a much deserved shower and celebration dinner!

Day 20: Transfer to Mendoza, check into park Hyatt hotel, and enjoy a fancy Argentine style meal. If we do not use our extra days we can relax in Mendoza or choose a day activity such as a wine tour, rafting trip, horseback ride, fly fishing, etc.

Day 21: Transfer to Mendoza airport, depart for country of residence.

Aconcagua Expedition
Cost: $5,100
Deposit: $2,000

2020 Departures:
February 7-March 1
December 5-27
December 12-January 3
December 19-January 10
December 28-January 19

Costs Include:
‌• Mountain guides
‌• All shared expedition gear (VHF radios, satellite phone, personal tents, large private dining tent in base camp, cooking equipment, etc.)‌
• Airport pick up upon arrival and transport to hotel
‌• Two nights accommodations with breakfast in Mendoza (double occupancy)
‌• Two nights accommodation with breakfast at the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes
‌• Welcome dinner‌
• Celebration dinner
‌• All food during the expedition
‌• All ground transport during the program
‌• Mules to transport gear and food

Costs Do Not Include:
‌• Airfare to Mendoza
‌• Aconcagua climbing permit fee
‌• Option to upgrade to single room‌
• Argentina reciprocity fee
‌• Porter fees
‌• Fees for early departure from program
‌• Personal items
‌• Medical and Evacuation insurance
‌• Trip cancellation insurance‌
• Wire transfer fees

Cancellation/Refund Policy
• There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without a summit or progress towards a summit for participants due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering. Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts within our margin of safety.
• Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
• Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions
• Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy
• Deposit due with registration materials
• All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified
• Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition

Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.

Ice Axe: A general mountaineering ice axe 60-75 cm.
Crampons: General mountaineering crampons.
Trekking Poles: Adjustable poles for the trek to base camp.
Light hiking boots or trekking shoes: For the trek to base camp, these can be worn at base camp and higher on the mountain depending on route conditions.
Mountaineering Boots: Either a double plastic boot, insulated boot, or a boot with a built in gaiter.
Water shoes or sandals: For the stream and river crossings.
Socks: Minimum 3 pair thick mountaineering socks and 3 pair liner socks
Short Underwear: 2-3 pair of synthetic short underwear
Long Underwear: 1-2 pair lightweight long underwear pants and shirts. 1 pair of heavy expedition weight long underwear.
Lightweight trekking pants: for the trek to base camp.
Soft Shell Jacket: A hooded jacket
Soft Shell pants: For trekking and climbing
Insulated Jacket: Primaloft or Down
Expedition Down Parka: A hooded down jacket with 800 minimum down fill.
Insulated Pants: Primaloft or Down, these should have full side zippers.
Hard Shell Jacket: To be worn in wet conditions
Hard Shell Pants: To be worn in wet conditions, these pants should have full side zippers.
Gaiters: To keep snow, rocks, and dust out of your boots. Gaiters also help keep your lower leg warm. Please make sure your gaiters fit over your boots.
Warm Hat: A warm fleece or wool hat.
Balaclava: to cover your face and neck on windy days.
Sun hat: A baseball style sun camp.
Buff: 1-2 of these to wear around your neck & face to block the wind, UV rays, dust.
Glacier Glasses: wrap around style sunglasses with dark lenses
Goggles: With dark lenses.
Soft Shell Gloves: 1 pair
Shell gloves with insulated liner: 1 pair
Shell mittens with insulated liner: 1 pair
Expedition Backpack: A 70-80 liter internal frame back pack.
Trekking Backpack: Optional. A small pack for the trek in.
Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least -20 °F. Down is preferable over synthetic.
Compression stuff sacks: for reducing volume for your sleeping bag and down jacket.
Self Inflating pad: A full length air mattress
Closed Cell foam pad: Full length is best
Headlamp: Bring a spare set of batteries
Cup: 16oz. minimum
Bowl: ½ liter minimum capacity
Spoon: Plastic (lexan)
Sunscreen: SPF 50 or stronger
Lipscreen: SPF 30 or stronger
Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1 liter capacity each
Water Purification System: Tablets or Steripen
Water Bottle Parkas: To keep your water from freezing
Pee Bottle: 1 liter capacity minimum
Pee Funnel: For Women
Knife: Optional
Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, etc.
Hand Sanitizer: 2 small bottles
Hand warmers / Toe warmers: 3 sets of each
Trash Compactor bags (3): To line stuff sacks and separate gear
Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
Travel Clothes: For days in Mendoza.
Large Duffel Bag with lock: for transporting all personal gear to base camp on the mules.
Small duffel bag: to store items in the hotel in Mendoza or Penitentes.
Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal medications, cough drops.

‌• Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude illness
‌• Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxin or Azithromycin for gastro intestinal or respiratory illness
‌• Ibuprofen for muscle soreness‌
• Pepto Bismol for loose stool‌
• Excedrin for headaches
‌• Anti-nausea medications.

Climbing Snacks:
‌• Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix: Bring a supply for 12 days such as Nuun.
‌• Energy Gel: Single serving gel packs such as GU, Clifshot, Powergel, etc.)
‌• Energy Bars: Power bar, Cliff bar, etc.
‌• Candy Bars: Snickers, Mars, Twix, Milkey Way, etc.
‌• Hard Candy: 1 cup
‌• Crackers: 1 box

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!

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