The winter season will certainly be an interesting one this year. Not only are the Russians taking on K2, but now ExWeb is reporting that Lonnie Dupre will return to Denali, where he hopes to make the first solo winter ascent of that mountain in January. This will be round 2 for Dupre and Denali, with the mountain winning their first bout last year.
Last year, Dupre traveled to Alaska in the coldest and darkest portion of winter just to attempt to scale the 6193 meter (20,320 ft) peak at the most challenging time possible. He was able to go as high as 5242 meters (17,200 ft) before his climb was halted by a massive blizzard. For the next seven days, Lonnie waited out the storm, which included winds in excess of 100 mph and temperatures that dipped to -50ºF/-45ºC. After it finally passed, he was forced to give up his quest and leave Denali behind. In January 2012, he’ll return to the Alaskan wilderness to give it another go.
ExWeb says that Dupre’s approach to the climb will remain largely the same as last year, during which he didn’t carry a tent at all, but instead built snow caves along his route. Those caves were used not only for shelter, but also as gear caches, which he stocked as he acclimatized to the weather and altitude. In attempt to shed some weight however, he will be packing all of his food in freeze dried form. That way he won’t have to carry much in the way of cooking gear and will simply need to heat it up over a stove and eat it straight from the package. The intention is to cut weight as much as possible, go light and fast, and hope that the speed will allow him to bag the peak in what ever narrow weather window is provided.
You can bet we’ll be following this expedition once again. It was very compelling reading last time out and I suspect it will be again this year. Lonnie is a veteran polar explorer, but even he was pushed to the limits on Denali this past January.
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