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After a successful move up to high camp our Mount Vinson team settled into their tents to rest. Beautiful sunny weather being reported with views looking out over the Sentinel Range within the Ellsworth Mountains. The plan is to push for the summit in the next 1-2 days after a rest day for our climbers. Everyone is doing well and excited to make a summit attempt toward the top of Antarctica!

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Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

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Vinson team settled

Today our Mount Vinson climbers completed a carry up to high camp where they cached food fuel and equipment for the days to come. Now back at low camp, our team will rest up and prepare to make a full transition to high camp to put themselves in position for a summit attempt. With 24 hours of daylight the amazing views can be seen at any point in the day. Our team is doing great and enjoying their time on the mountain together!

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Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

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food fuel and equipment

Our Mount Vinson team enjoyed a relaxing rest day today at camp 1 while reviewing the technical climbing skills necessary to move up higher toward the summit. Garrett checks in below via satellite phone (brief disconnection in audio). The weather report is clear skies and low wind across the extreme polar climate of Antarctica. Stay tuned as our climbers prepare for their summit push!

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Audio dispatch from Garrett Madison

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technical climbing skills

Our Aconcagua team reached the summit and have now returned safely off of the mountain, congrats to them in achieving a safe and successful climb on the highest peak in the Western and Southern Hemispheres at 6,961m / 22,837ft!  They reported cold and windy conditions up high and on summit day, but still managed to succeed and had a beautiful day on top!  Below are some select photos from the climb.  Merry Christmas! Enjoy!

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Aconcagua team

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Aconcagua team

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Aconcagua team

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Today our Aconcagua climbers finished their first carry up to Camp 1 at an elevation of 16,100′, spending 5 hours on the way up and 3 back down towards base camp. The conditions have been beautiful with blue skies as our team moved gear and food up the mountain.

The plan is to climb to Camp 1 and sleep there tonight and then carry a load tomorrow to Camp 2. The following day we plan to move to Camp 2 and then evaluate the weather forecast. If all looks good we will carry a load to camp 3, then climb to camp 3 and sleep, going for the summit the following day.

To see our teams detailed itinerary for getting to the top visit our page here!

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Aconcagua climbers

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Aconcagua climbers

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Aconcagua climbers

After a nice trek up the Vacas Valley, our climbers have arrived at Plaza Argentina base camp. The weather has been perfect on our trek toward Aconcagua. Last night our team enjoyed a traditional open fire barbecue with chicken, steak, fresh salad and vegetables along the riverside. After a relaxing nights rest at Pampa de Lena camp (9,200′) our team woke up early to cross the river (with river shoes or by mule) through the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina base camp (13,900′).

This will be our team’s third day of trekking and they will be greeted shortly with a warm dinner celebrating their arrival to Aconcagua. Tomorrow our team will rest at base camp and begin to organize the loads of gear to be moved to higher camps on Aconcagua.

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Vacas Valley

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Vacas Valley

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Vacas Valley

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Vacas Valley

The Madison Mountaineering Aconcagua 2017 team has arrived in Mendoza, Argentina and is now heading off to begin our expedition and ascent of the highest mountain in the western and southern hemispheres. Aconcagua (the stone sentinel) stands at an impressive 6962m (22,834 ft.) above sea level and is great training for high altitude peaks in the Himalaya. Please follow our dispatches as we journey from the lush wine region of Mendoza (known for grass fed beef and Malbec wine) to the arid slopes of the Vacas Valley and up to the base of the Polish Glacier, before making our way to the highest point in the Andes. Aconcagua is known at times for high winds (100mph) and sub zero temps, as well as the high altitude extreme environment. This mountain is never an easy feat and over half the climbers who attempt are turned back. We are sure to encounter challenges along the way and with those come potential rewards for hard work and a job well done in the end. On a clear day we might even see the surreal blue of the Pacific ocean from the summit. To the summit!

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Aconcagua 2017

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Aconcagua 2017

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Aconcagua 2017

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2017 Aconcagua

Yesterday at 9:15 AM the Madison Mountaineering team reached the top of the Unclimbed Peak, Tharke Khang, located in the Nepal Himalayas near Mount Everest at over 22,000′ (6670m).  We began our summit day just after midnight on November 3rd, and departed our high camp (19,200′ / 5820m) on the Nup La glacier near the China – Nepal border at 2 AM.  This was the culmination of more than a year’s planning, we were anxiously anticipating what the route to the summit would entail, and wondering if we would be able to ascend to the top of a peak that no climbers had yet attempted before us.  Although seemingly doable in our eyes from google earth and helicopter reconnaissance, we expected the route would likely have some unexpected challenges in store for us, perhaps preventing us from reaching the summit.

From our high camp we traversed the Nup La glacier 45 minutes to the North Face of the peak, ascending a firm 45 degree snow slope about 500 ft. up to the ridge line, breaking through the corniced ridge, then ascending the ridge through varying degrees of steepness, sometimes vertical for sustained portions.  Over the previous 2 days our team had ascended about two thirds of the route and placed fixed ropes over the steep and exposed sections, however the remaining 1/3 of the route to the summit was still unclimbed and our plan was to find and establish this portion of the route as we climbed on our final summit push, in a ‘make or break’ style.  As our team ascended the route in the very cold and dark night, we were divided into two groups.  The first group was focused on climbing ahead and fixing (problem solving) the remaining portion of the route and the second group was making steady progress towards the goal of reaching the top.  I climbed with my friends Aang Phurba and Lakpa Dandi Sherpa, Aang Phurba led the final steep pitches to the ridge just before the highest point on the peak.  Aang Phurba and I have climbed together many times in recent years on Mount Everest, K2, Lhotse, etc. His brother was part of my team in 2014 on Mount Everest and perished tragically during the avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on April 18th that ended the climbing season for us, Aang Phurba and I have a special bond that goes beyond the singular focus of climbing.

Before reaching the summit, Lakpa Dandi and I climbed up to join Aang Phurba just below the highest point on the peak, unfurled some prayer flags and silk Khata scarves, anchoring them near the top where they would float in the breeze, then together walked the final steps to the highest point and true summit of Tharke Khang.  We could not have had a better day for climbing in the Himalayas, there was not a cloud in the sky and only a small breath of wind.  We gazed upon Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse, Mount Cho Oyu, and many other of the surrounding Himalayan peaks.  Shortly thereafter, a few of our other climbers ascended to the summit and reveled in the majesty of this spectacular mountain range on such a glorious day.  After savoring our time at the summit, we began our descent down the ridge, a series of rappels over exposed terrain, where often both sides of the ridge dropped away into nothingness. After descending around 2800′ (910m) we traversed the Nup La glacier back to our high camp and settled in for the night. Today, we awoke at 6 AM and helicoptered down to our base camp located at the Gokyo 5th lake, then continued by helicopter to Kathmandu for a celebratory dinner this evening.  It’s been somewhat of a culture shock for us today, going from isolation in a high altitude alpine zone in a remote corner of the highest mountain range on Earth, to a bustling city. We all feel very blessed to have concluded a safe climbing expedition in a beautiful mountain environment, and to now be heading home to our friends and loved ones.  For me personally, yesterday was an extra special summit day, as it was my 39th birthday and I was able to share it with friends in a spectacular place never before visited by anyone.

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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Unclimbed Peak

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On November 3rd our unclimbed peak expedition team reached the Tharke Khang summit! Garrett Madison checks in via satellite phone and reports beautiful conditions with views of surrounding peaks in the Himalayas. Our climbers will now descend to high camp to eat and rest up. Nice work team!

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Audio dispatch by Garrett Madison

Our unclimbed peak expedition team is now in base camp, preparing to make a recon up to the peak to scout the potential climbing route. Our peak, Tharke Khang, looks to have a ridge line beginning from the west that appears climbable, with steep snow and ice slopes. Our base camp is comfortable with a heated dining tent and great food!

Garrett

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peak expedition