I covered Lonnie Dupre’s record-making attempt to solo Denali in January here– nothing short of impressive. The latest update is that Lonnie’s on his way down, having spent the last seven days alone in a 4×4 snow cave waiting out the weather. Sadly the weather didn’t break enough or in time. Minus 72 degrees and 97 mph winds…can’t say I blame in. Here is the link to the update, but I’ve copied it below as well:
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 January.
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 icy 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 above was taken by Buck Benson showing Lonnie Dupre and Tom Surprenant on Windy Corner during the 2010 summit of Denali.
Denali is the tallest mountain in North America, and thus one of the seven summits. It’s a serious climb, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. All the more so in winter…alone. Kudos to Lonnie for making it as far as he did, and even more so for having the humility and wisdom to make what he thinks is the right decision, to come down. He’ll have another chance.