After 16 days on North America’s Tallest mountain, including past 7 days spent
in a 4×4 snow cave from brutal weather, Lonnie Dupre on Friday abandoned his
effort to become the first person to scale Denali alone in the month of
Lonnie spent 7 days and 6 nights in a 4×4 snow trench in up to 97mph winds,
but still remained mentally strong and physically healthy with every intention
on continuing upward.
Spending all of yesterday analyzing weather it seemed that there may be a
possible break in the winds for a day, but then picking up after a series of
low pressure systems blow over to the South. This would possibly allow Lonnie
to climb to 17,200ft (high camp), but would then pick up again and not
diminish in the foreseeable future. To be stuck at high camp with only 8 days
worth of supplies is too big of a gamble without having at least a three days
of probable weather.
Lonnie Dupre, having great appreciation for mother nature, had to make the
call Friday to descend after counting rations and fuel and adding those up
with the weather probability. “Due to poor weather, low visibility and extreme
winds, I was forced to make the decision to descend after receiving word that
there was another week of the daunting weather around the corner. You just
can’t climb being blown off your feet!” -Lonnie Dupre.
We do not see this climb as a failure, but as a truly inspiring man testing
the limits of dark, cold extremes to bring attention to climate change. Lonnie
will be also be descending with the microbe samples collected for Adventurers
& Scientists for Conservation‘s study of how climate change will affect the
production of living matter in extreme environments.
Lonnie spent the day in heavy winds climbing from 14,200ft over 1,000ft to
collect his stashed gear on the Headwall and then descending all the way down
to 11,200ft. On his descent yesterday Lonnie managed to get around Windy
Corner without being blown off his feet by using both ice axes and crampons to
dig in as the gusts would hit him. He then proceeded down Squirrel Hill, an
ice slope at 12,000ft, in the dark. The gusts were up to 80mph and blew Lonnie
off his feet, but was able to self arrest. He then had to down-climb the
remaining 3/4 of Squirrel Hill backwards daggering with both ice axes and
using crampons to prevent being blown off his feet again.
Lonnie arrived at 11,200ft yesterday evening after a very long day of
traveling over 4,000ft in various elevations. We’ll keep you posted on his
progress on the journey back to 7,200ft as we hear from Lonnie. The image
below was taken by Buck Benson showing Lonnie Dupre and Tom Surprenant on
Windy Corner during the 2010 summit of Denali.
Lonnie Dupre flew to the mountain for the expected 1 month climb December 22st,
2011...the darkest time of year. Temperature Christmas evening was -40F
degrees on Denali.
Lonnie last reported in at the 14,000ft camp, an amazing place to be given
only nine days on Denali. He will need a minimum of three days of good weather
to move on from this camp. When he does receive the weather report of good
weather he will then move to 17,200ft camp and then, with perfect weather, the
Summiting Denali solo in January is not the only reason Lonnie is climbing
Denali. Dupre is partnering with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation
to collect microbe samples; helping to gain unique insights into the
functioning of extreme environments.
“The goal of the data collection is to help scientists understand how nutrient
cycling is affected by climate change. Basically, this means we can begin to
understand how climate change will affect the production of living matter in
extreme environments.” -Lonnie Dupre
"It's a personal challenge," Dupre says, "and also a way to bring attention to
the world's receding glaciers and climate change." During the expedition,
Dupre will be conducting research and gathering microbe samples for the
Biosphere 2 project run by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. The
data will give a better understanding of how climate change will affect the
production of livingn matter in extreme environments.
Knowledge of this process is also likely to reveal vital clues about the
evolution of microbes-rock interaction in these extreme boundary environments
and its potential response to alterations in the environmental equilibrium
such as climate change
We first want to thank our Lead Sponsor Energizer for their financial support,
robust headlamps and providing us with the best cold weather Lithium batteries
on the market. Lonnie will be using them for powering our communications,
headlamps, cameras, GPS and emergency beacon. Our product and gear sponsors
are Rab, MSR, and Midwest Mountaineering. Lonnie has developed a long-term
relationship with these companies who offer the best expedition products
available. They are great to work with and looking forward to many more years
of partnership. You can check out all our sponsors through links on our
website…just click on their logos.
We finally received the good word from Talkeetna Air Taxi at 10am this morning
that it was a go for a base camp landing on Denali. After making his list and
checking it twice we took off around 1pm.
Before arriving to Alaska I spent two and an half weeks training above 9000ft
in Colorado. It seemed like there wasn’t a minute to take a breather with all
the preparations. I managed to do several high elevation hikes as well as an
overnight at 13,000 ft. I’m sure the Park Service wondered what the hell I was
doing camping overnight on a mountain that high. Back in Silverthorne I went
through personal, medical and repair kits. We tried out our new high
definition cameras and put climbing skins on my custom birch skis made by Mark
Hansen (founder of North House Folk School). I also purchased key gear like
carbon fiber adjustable hiking poles and specific socks for layering in my
mountaineering boots. Our friend and host Becky Falch sewed logos from our
Lead sponsor Energizer onto expedition clothing and sled cover.
I feel ready for the challenge ahead and want to thank all that have helped
get me to this point. Thanks to my friend Buck Benson and Buck’s Radio Shack
for supporting us with an Iridium satellite phone. Thanks to Energizer for the
best headlamp and batteries on the market as well as making this expedition
possible through their generous financial contribution. My best to Carl and
Beth Foster for introducing me to Herbalife supplements that have helped me in
my training. Thanks to fellow Minnesotans Jeff and Susan Gecas, owners of the
Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais for great food and a good time.
It’s the first time my team (Stevie & Dmitri) and 10 bags of luggage has
assembled all in one place: arriving at the Anchorage airport. From here we
made the two-hour car ride to Talkeetna where we unloaded at ‘The Hideaway,’
our basecamp for the expedition. On Friday the 16th we will head back to
Anchorage to purchase any last minute supplies and for a presentation. We will
return to Talkeetna on the 17th to undergo final prep i.e. making wands for
marking the route, checking extended weather forecasts and going over protocol
while I'm gone on the mountain. I expect to fly to the mountain around 1:00pm
on the 21st of December (winter solstice), that is, weather permitting.
Denali, aka Mount McKinley, in Alaska, is North America’s highest mountain at
Only nine expeditions totaling 16 people have ever reached the summit of
Denali in winter. Six deaths resulted from those climbs. Only one team
(comprised of three Russian climbers) has ever made the summit in
January...the dead of winter. Of those nine original expeditions, four were
solo, but none of those individuals have been in January, the darkest and
January 2011 was my first attempt at Denali in the winter time. I made a fast
ascent to 17,200 feet only to be thwarted there by bad weather, just 8 hours
travel shy of the summit. Huddled in a snow cave for 7 days, I waited for a
window of stable weather to go to the summit. That day never came. I’m am
going back for another try in December 2011.
I have just under a month to get ready for another attempt at soloing Denali
this winter. I am now on my way to Colorado for 2.5 weeks to ascend some
14,000-foot peaks to work on climbing techniques and acclimatize to altitude.
From there, I fly to Alaska around December 14th then to Denali’s base to
start the climb on December 21st.
So far most of the climbing gear and equipment has been acquired less a few
key items that are being modified or made. Good friend and ski maker Mark
Hansen made the skis I will be using from base camp at 7200 feet to 11,200
feet to my specifications from local Minnesota birch. They will be light, long
for spanning crevasse bridges and boot width wide for floatation.
Food rations were packed last week consisting of about 1.25 lbs of freeze
dried per day. Breakfast will consist of my hometown whole food store’s
granola mixed with goat’s milk. Lunch will be a smorgasbord of chocolate, rye
cracker, halva (sesame butter and honey), pecans, and homemade pemmican
(cooked bacon mixed with dried cranberries mixed together via a food
processor). Dinners will be Mountain House Freeze Dried food in vacuumed
packed bags that you can just add boiling water to and stir…no pots necessary.
Like last year I will not take a tent. The winds on Denali are just too much
for even the best mountaineering tent. I will use a modified snow trench that
will be warmer, safer and quieter when the winds are blowing 100mph. For
safety, snow trenches can be re-used and a place to store supplies for the
After nearly 10 years of off and on writing I am happy to announce the release
of my new book “Life on Ice” – 25 years of Polar Exploration. The 300-page
book with a 32-page color insert of images covers all my projects including
crossing the Northwest Passage, circumnavigating Greenland and two North Pole
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