I have updates on the two major winter climbs that are both about to get underway. In Alaska, Lonnie Dupre returns to Denali for a solo January ascent and in Pakistan, the Russian team goes after the toughest climb of them all, K2 in winter.
We’ll start in Alaska, where the weather finally cleared yesterday, allowing Lonnie to hit the mountain at last. He’ll now start the process of establishing his Base Camp and organizing his gear ahead of the climb. Since this is to be the first solo January ascent of the mountain, Dupre will likely not start the climb until January 1, which gives him several days to prepare. The weather report looks to be good in the coming days, which also bodes well for the start of the expedition, although the weather is notoriously fickle in Alaska, and can change quickly. Like last year, Lonnie will climb without a tent and will instead take shelter inside snow caves that he’ll build himself.
The weather is on the minds of the Russian Team as well, as they prepare for what will no doubt be the biggest challenge of their climbing careers. The first eight members of the squad have now completed their acclimatization and are back in Skardu, while the second group of eight rotates out for a little time in the nearby mountains as well. Their gear has been packed and organized, and now they’re waiting for the Pakistani Army to assign them a helicopter to airlift the supplies to Base Camp. Bad weather in the region is keeping the helicopters grounded at this point however, so the expedition can’t officially get underway until the gear can be delivered to BC. There are high hopes that that can happen in the next few days, and the climbers themselves can continue their journey to the mountain.
Winter is now officially here, which means that these two winter climbs can now officially get moving. Both expeditions are going to be incredibly challenging, as Lonnie will face the mountain alone and with a hard deadline of January 31st, while the Russians are now prepared to spend upwards of three months climbing K2.
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