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!
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. A representitive 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: $44,495
Nov 24, 2020
Dec 05, 2020
Dec 16, 2020
Dec 27, 2020 — with co-guide Conrad Anker (to be confirmed)
Jan 07, 2021
• 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.
• Short Underwear: 1 pair of synthetic short underwear
• Lightweight Long Underwear: 1-2 pair lightweight long underwear pants and shirts
• Heavyweight Long Underwear:1 pair of heavy expedition weight long underwear
• Short-Sleeve Synthetic Shirt
• Soft Shell Jacket: A hooded jacket
• Soft Shell pants: For trekking and climbing
• Lightweight Nylon Pants (optional)
• 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
• Insulated Jacket: Primaloft or Down
• Insulated Synthetic Pants (optional)
• 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
• Lightweight synthetic liner gloves
• Soft Shell Gloves: 1 pair
• Shell gloves with insulated liner: 1 pair
• Liner Socks: 3 pair
• Wool or synthetic mountaineering socks: 3 pair
• Mountaineering Boots: A double plastic or insulated synthetic boot
• Light hiking boots or trekking shoes: For the trek to base camp
• Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least 20° F. Down is preferable over synthetic
• Self Inflating pad: A full-length air mattress
• Closed Cell foam pad: Full-length is best
• Expedition Backpack: A 65+ liter internal frame backpack
• Compression stuff sacks: for reducing volume for your sleeping bag and down jacket
• Trash Compactor bags (4): To line stuff sacks and separate gear
• Trekking Poles: Adjustable poles for the trek to base camp
• Ice Axe: A short ice axe no longer than 60cm
• Crampons: General mountaineering crampons
• Climbing Helmet: Must fit over a thick hat
• Alpine climbing harness: mountaineering harness, with adjustable leg loops. Not a rock-climbing “sport”
• Carabineers: 4 locking and 2 non-locking
• Belay / Rappel device: For rappelling or belaying climbers
• Headlamp: with 2 extra sets of new batteries
• Small duffel bag: to store items in the hotel/car
• Travel Clothes: For days in Seattle, etc.
Additional Food Items
• Snack food (suggestions):
• Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix: Bring a supply for 4 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, Milky Way, etc.
• Hard Candy: 1 cup
• Crackers: 1 box
• Cup: 16oz. minimum
• Bowl: ½ liter minimum capacity
• Spoon: Plastic (Lexan)
• Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1-liter capacity each
• Water Bottle Parkas: To keep your water from freezing
• Insulated bottle/Thermos (optional)
• Water Purification System: Tablets or Steripen
• Sunscreen: 2 tubes, SPF 40 or stronger
• Lip screen: 2 sticks, SPF 30 or stronger
• Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
• Pee Bottle: 1-liter capacity minimum
• Knife or multitool (optional)
• Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band-aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal
medications, cough drops
• Medications and prescriptions:
• Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude illness
• Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxin or Azithromycin for gastrointestinal or respiratory illness
• Ibuprofen for muscle soreness
• Pepto Bismol for loose stool
• Excedrin for headaches
• Anti-nausea medications
• Adventure Watch (such as Garmin fenix)
• GPS / Personal Satellite Communicator (such as Garmin inReach)
• Personal power system (such as Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel and Sherpa 100AC Power Bank)
• Kindle/e-reader/digital entertainment
• Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
Other Optional Items
• Lightweight journal, sketchbook, pencils, pen
• Female urination device (FUD)
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!