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100% on the Roof of Africa!

Yesterday our Kilimanjaro team put everyone on the Roof of Africa, the 19,341 ft. summit of Kilimanjaro’s highest point: Uhuru Peak on Kibo’s crater rim.  Congratulations one and all, you are on your way to your Seven Summits quest.  🙂

After a very long descent this morning from Millenium Camp (3820 m / 12,533 ft), where they spent a solid night resting up from the summit push, all the way down to the Mweka Gate (1638 m / 5,375 ft).  Once at the gate, it was party time with a wonderful and joyous luncheon.

The team is now back at the hotel in Arusha, where they enjoyed a celebration dinner and are resting up before they head out tomorrow morning to start their 5-day safari of Tarangire National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the mighty Serengeti.  Enjoy!  You’ve definitely earned it.

High camp on Kilimanjaro

High camp on Kilimanjaro

Sunset over Kilimanjaro

Sunset over Kilimanjaro

Yeah Kilimanjaro Team!!

Yeah Kilimanjaro Team!!

Kilimanjaro Dance Party!

Kilimanjaro Dance Party!

Savoring success at the trail end of Kilimanjaro

Savoring success at the trail end of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Dance Party!

Kilimanjaro Dance Party!

One last view of Kili

One last view of Kili

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

Karanga Camp on Kilimanjaro

Our Kilimanjaro team is just finishing up breakfast and getting ready to leave Kosovo high camp and head for the summit!  The Summit Push is on!  You can follow the team in real-time with our location tracking map:  https://madisonmountaineering.com/maps/kilimanjaro-2021-07

Godspeed Kili team, godspeed!

(photo:  Madison Mountaineering photo archive)

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

Everyone together for a Kilimanjaro team picture!

Today the Kilimanjaro team climbed to high camp. They left Karanga camp and crossed the barren hillsides to reach Barafu camp, and continued on to the Kosovo camp, our special high camp that rarely sees any other climbers. This camp puts the team in a position above most other climbing parties so that the summit day is shorter and they can get out ahead of any potential crowds at the start. Before bed, the team talked through the summit day strategy, then went to bed early in preparation for an ‘alpine start’ tomorrow morning. Everyone’s hoping the weather will be good for summit day!

Here’s a short message from the team:

Sun’s up and we’re on the trail. This afternoon high camp and midnight tonight our summit push begins!  Over and out.  Team Madison Mountaineering Africa

Stats for day 5:
Start: Karanga Camp, 13,335’
Finish: Kosovo Camp, 15,700’
Distance Traveled: 3.5 miles

The flora and fauna of Kilimanjaro

The flora and fauna of Kilimanjaro

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

Jumping for Kilimanjaro joy!

After breakfast, the Kilimanjaro team left camp and began the ascent of the Great Barranco wall! This scramble provided a great morning workout as they topped out at 14,500’ with spectacular views of the plains below! Then they descend to the Karanga river and hiked up a short distance to Karanga camp.

Here’s a short message from the team:

Today clear, breezy, and a pinch of big mountain chill setting out for the scramble up the legendary Barranco wall!

Stats for day 4
Start: Barranco Camp, 13,066’
Finish: Karanga Camp, 13,335’
Distance: 3 miles

Truckin' up to Karanga Camp on Kilimanjaro!

Truckin’ up to Karanga Camp on Kilimanjaro!

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

July 2021 Kili Team at Lava Tower

Today the Kilimanjaro team left Shira Camp and traversed the mountain, working their way up to the base of “The Lava Tower” at approximately 14,800 ft. They made a quick ascent of the lava tower, a fun scramble up with great views from the top, then descended down to Barranco Camp. From camp, the team enjoyed a great view of the Great Barranco Wall, the challenge for tomorrow morning!

Here’s a short message from the team:

Team Madison Mountaineering up with sunrise after a clear night packed with stars and the Milky Way!  Today up to 15,000ft.  A height record for nearly all!

Stats for day 3
Start: Shira Camp, 12,355’
Finish: Barranco Camp, 13,066’
Distance Traveled: 6 miles

Enjoying the beautiful Senecio trees on Kilimanjaro

Enjoying the beautiful Senecio trees on Kilimanjaro

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

Sunset at Shira

Today, from the Machame camp the team started hiking up the trail through the forest and gained elevation very quickly, as the landscape changed from the lush forest to moor lands with large Senecio trees dotting the hillsides. They gained the Shira Plateau and enjoyed a great view over the valley below. Each day upon arriving at camp in the afternoon the team celebrates by dancing and singing with the staff, learning the dance and songs of the Chagga tribe! The team is doing great and are having a wonderful time on Kilimanjaro!

Here’s a short message from the team:

Out of the jungle and camped above the clouds at 12,000 ft.  Happy team relaxing in the sun.  Over and out. Team Madison Mountaineering!

Stats for day 2
Start: Machame Camp, 9,927’
Finish: Shira Camp, 12,355’
Distance Traveled: 5 miles

(photo: Madison Mountaineering archives)

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

July 2021 Kilimanjaro team at Machame Gate ready to start day one!

All of the team members for our first Kilimanjaro climb and safari expedition for 2021 have arrived in Tanzania and have headed up the mountain from the trailhead at Machame Gate (1814 m / 5,950 ft).

This morning the team traveled by Land Crusier from Arusha through forests and coffee fields to the Machame trailhead, where they checked in with the Park HQ and sorted loads for the local porters, the Chagga people. They hiked through the lush rain forest and finished the day at the Machame Camp. Everyone is doing well and had a great first day on the climb of Mount Kilimanjaro!

Stats for Climb day 1
Start: Machame Entrance, 5,718’
Finish: Machame Camp, 9,927’
Distance Traveled: 6 miles

July 2021 Kilimanjaro team arriving Arusha

July 2021 Kilimanjaro team arriving Arusha

July 2021 Kilimanjaro ready to leave the hotel for the trailhead!

July 2021 Kilimanjaro team ready to leave the hotel for the trailhead!

The July 2021 Kilimanjaro team

July 2021 Kilimanjaro team photo!

Kilimanjaro team loading up to head to the trailhead and get climbing!

Kilimanjaro team loading up to head to the trailhead and get climbing!

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

Climbers Barranco camp to Karanga Kilimanjaro

Our initial 2021 Kilimanjaro expedition and safari kicks-off in one week with the team members arriving to Tanzania on Monday!  Expedition leader, Mara Larson, and the team of climbers are excited to return to Tanzania and reach the Roof of Africa!  Follow their progress with our daily dispatches and real-time map updates:  https://madisonmountaineering.com/maps/kilimanjaro-2021-07.

Our expeditions to Kilimanjaro are truly an experience of a lifetime in journeying to Tanzania and undertaking one of the Seven Summits. Climbers experience first-hand the five ecosystems and game parks that Kilimanjaro towers over as we climb the mountain slopes on our way to the summit. For those in good shape who can trek a few hours per day, Kilimanjaro is an accessible mountaineering objective. Although Kilimanjaro is considered a non-technical climb, roughly 1/3 of the visitors do not reach the summit. While some circumstances are out of the climbers’ and guides’ control, a lot of this has to do with the expertise of the climbing company one chooses. Our guides are among the finest in the world, through our expertise and adherence to safety, we have a 100% success rate on Kilimanjaro over the last seven years.

By the way, it’s not too early to start making your plans to join us on Kilimanjaro or any of our other expeditions in the 2021 season!  Contact our office for details.

Approaching the summit of Kilimanjaro

Approaching the summit of Kilimanjaro

If climbing Kilimanjaro 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:

The beauty of climbing Ama Dablam

Having just concluded our first big international climbing expedition since COVID-19 hit earlier this year, I wanted to share some notes on my experience for climbers who are planning to climb with me in the future and climbers considering to join one of our upcoming programs.

Pacific Northwest

After the spring “lockdown” periods, we were finally able to get out into the mountains locally in Washington State beginning in late July when Mount Rainier National Park opened for commercial guiding. We operated our climb on Mount Rainier, as well as climbs on Mount Baker & Mount Shuksan in the North Cascades, all were successful, and everyone made it home safe and healthy.  By allowing climbers to sleep in their own tent or for members of the same households to share tents, we maintained appropriate distancing measures and followed prescribed guidelines. Once we departed the trailheads, we could hike & climb without needing the masks, as we were appropriately spaced out. It was refreshing to be able to live “mask-free” for a while. This is a unique benefit of traveling to the mountains during the pandemic.

Kilimanjaro

In August, we were able to operate our first Kilimanjaro program of the summer season. Myself and a father and daughter from Atlanta journeyed to Tanzania and climbed the tallest peak in Africa. We hardly saw anyone else on the mountain. It was surreal to experience Kilimanjaro nearly all to ourselves, as generally, the hiking trails and camps are fairly busy during the summer season. International travel was easy; we only needed to show a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of our travel to board the flight to Tanzania. Once we arrived in Tanzania, the logistics were seamless. The hotel staff in Arusha did a great job of making us feel safe. Our staff on the mountain was as welcoming as ever, all the while utilizing appropriate PPE to keep everyone safe. Reaching Kilimanjaro‘s summit with Drew and his daughter was a highlight for sure; we had it all to ourselves as we watched the sunrise.

After the climb, I flew back to the USA, while Drew and Jordan continued on for the safari. From their photos and reports, the game viewing was the best I’ve ever heard of. They didn’t see many other vehicles on safari, similar to their experience on the mountain, which is why I imagine the animals were in abundance and often ventured close to their vehicle. Overall, it was an incredible trip for them. We also felt very welcomed by the people of Tanzania. The pandemic has crushed their tourism industry, and they were very excited and happy to have us visit. We’ve operated more Kilimanjaro programs since, and they’ve gone perfectly. I look forward to returning in late January for my next Kili climb! If you’re interested in joining, please contact us!

Ama Dablam

The next international expedition I planned was to Nepal, a country I regularly visit for mountaineering in the spring and fall seasons. Unfortunately, we could not visit Nepal this past spring as Nepal went into lockdown, suspending all international flights from mid-March onwards. We patiently awaited Nepal to reopen so that we could plan a climb. Fortunately, the country announced it would open on October 17th for international travelers. Only travelers who are part of a mountaineering or trekking program could enter the country in the gradual reopening process.

The process for us to obtain “visa-on-arrival” approval letters from the Nepal Ministry of Immigration involved us having to process our mountaineering permit ahead of time. With the help of our Nepalese partner agency, we were able to procure the permits and visa-on-arrival letters for our whole team in advance so that when we arrived, the immigration process was smooth and seamless. We were the only foreigners at the immigration counter, a new experience for me! We also had to bring our negative COVID PCR test result and show proof of COVID travel insurance, which is not expensive but was initially hard to find. Our expedition team was the first to enter Nepal since the lockdown back in March, so the process was new for everyone.

Once we entered Nepal, we were required to quarantine at our hotel for about a week. During this time, we had to take another COVID PCR test. This was easy as we arranged for the test to be done at the hotel. The six days of quarantine within the guidelines at Kathmandu’s Hotel Yak & Yeti were pleasant; we did morning yoga on the lawn, played tennis, exercised in the fitness center, did some sightseeing around town, and went out to dinner at the various restaurants open in Kathmandu. The staff at the hotel were very friendly and ensured we had a comfortable and safe visit.

We flew to Lukla and began our trek to base camp. We didn’t see any other foreign trekkers on the trail, just a few locals. The villages in the Khumbu valley were very quiet, and only a few lodges were open. It was wonderful to reconnect with the families of the Khumbu and stay in their lodges. They were very welcoming and friendly. Since we had just recently tested negative for COVID in Kathmandu, we were not worried about spreading the virus but took responsible precautions to stay safe.

For the most part, the people in the Khumbu did not seem very concerned about the virus. However, we practiced responsible travel by masking-up initially if we went into a home or business. Since the Nepalese lost out on the entire spring climbing/trekking season, they were happy to see us return this autumn. Fall is usually the busiest trekking season in Nepal, and our group was the first commercial foreign team to venture into the Khumbu valley. There would be just a few small teams behind us in the coming weeks, a tiny fraction of the norm.

Arriving in Ama Dablam base camp was an occasion to celebrate! Ama Dablam base camp is one of the most beautiful and pleasant base camps I’ve ever visited over the years. Once we were in our base camp, we could practically forget all about COVID. Our team (foreign & Nepali) had tested negative for COVID just days before, so we were assured that our base camp community was virus-free. However, our staff continued to practice safe and responsible sanitation and cleanliness measures. It was refreshing to be able to relax, enjoy the spectacular views base camp affords, the comfort of our personal tents, and the quality of the meals. With Wi-Fi and a hot shower, it felt like “glamping!” Initially, we were the only team in base camp. Later on, another team showed up and would climb after us.

Climbing the mountain was a bit more complex than a “normal” season on Ama Dablam. Since we were the first team on the mountain, we had to fix the lines ourselves. This is nothing new to our crew, as we were also the first team to climb Ama Dablam last year and fixed the lines on Everest during the last 2 spring seasons (2018 & 2019).  Our highly skilled Sherpa team helped out with this task as well as establishing the higher camps. We climbed up to Camp 2 to acclimatize, then rested a few days in base camp before setting out for the summit push. The weather this autumn in Nepal has been very dry, so the route conditions were nice. We had a beautiful summit day, with everyone making it to the top and back down safely. Afterward, we decided to helicopter out from base camp back to Kathmandu, then depart for our home countries. Everyone made it home safely and COVID-free. I can’t imagine how it could have gone better; we were very fortunate. I look forward to returning to Nepal in the spring for Everest. I suspect that the mountain will be less busy than usual, a welcome scenario, as I imagine many people will still be afraid to travel internationally.

What’s Next

We are currently planning more climbs in Ecuador and Chile. Our Total Eclipse Climb program in Chile, as well as Ojos del Salado (2nd highest peak in South America and the highest active volcano in the world), is set to begin December 8th, the day after Chile suspends the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving passengers. We are also operating several Ecuador programs planned in the coming months.

Many people have asked how it’s possible for us to travel internationally during this time, assuming that the whole world is still in lockdown. While some countries are still in lockdown and travel there is not possible. Many countries are open and accessible by following the prescribed guidelines. Nearly every major mountaineering guide service has suspended international operations through 2020. However, as a boutique company, we can continue operating to some degree, at least in countries that are open, by complying with the local regulations. We’ve become familiar with the new requirements and procedures for traveling internationally, such as where and how to get the COVID PCR test, how to procure COVID travel insurance, which airlines are operating, etc.

By continuing to operate responsibly, we can facilitate meaningful experiences for our guests while providing much-needed tourist revenue for the local communities that depend on mountain travelers for survival. These communities have been hit very hard by the response to the pandemic. Traveling during this time can mean less crowded peaks and makes an important contribution to the local communities that need our help. Traveling now can also inspire others. We’ve all been affected in some way by the pandemic. It’s refreshing to know that we can still pursue our goals and aspirations that involve international travel.

Climbers on the summit of Kilimanjaro

Summit day began at midnight, as the team awoke for a quick breakfast then left camp to begin the ascent. They dawned headlamps and climbed through the pre-dawn hours, reaching Stella Point (18,652’) just as the sun rose over the plains of Africa. In the dawn light, they climbed the remaining distance to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa at 19,341’. At the top, they savored our accomplishment and the incredible view then made their way down back to our high camp, where they had lunch, then continued down to the Mweka camp for the night.

Congratulations team!!  Well done.

Stats for Day 6:
Start: Kosovo Camp, 15,700’
Summit: Uhuru Peak, 19,341′
Finish: Mweka Camp, 10,204’
Distance: 8 miles


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

Instagram: