Polar explorer and climber Lonnie Dupre has set off for Alaska, where he hope to make a solo climb of Denali in January. If successful, it’ll be the first solo ascent of the mountain during it’s coldest and darkest month ever.
Standing 20,320 ft (6193 meters) in height, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. Generally it is climbed in June and July each year, but there are occasional attempts during other months of the year, including the winter. Over the years there have been nine successful winter expeditions on the mountain, putting 16 people on the summit. Only one of those was completed in January, when a team of three Russians topped out back in 1998. Winter expeditions have also led to six deaths on Denali as well.
Climbing in January means that the cold temps and howling winds will be at their fiercest, but that isn’t a major concern for Dupre, who has made numerous arctic expeditions over the years. For example, he has circumnavigated Greenland by dogsled and kayak, made a 3000 mile crossing of the Northeast Passage, also by dogsled, and he has made the challenging journey to the North Pole alongside Eric Larsen.
Clearly the extreme cold and the dark won’t deter him, although the weather just might. According to his latest blog post, Dupre is now in Talkeetna, where his flight out has been grounded due to a powerful weather front moving through. He hopes to be in base camp soon, and start the climb in earnest.
And what a climb he has planned. Going up solo, Dupre has left his tent at home and will instead seek shelter in ice caves that he’ll dig along the way. That is the same tactic that the Russians used on their successful climb a dozen years ago, and he hopes it’ll allow him to repeat their success.
Watch for more updates soon.
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