Winter Climbs 2017: Work Continues on Everest, Lonnie Dupre Launches Winter Ascent in Alaska

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Now that the end of February is upon us, there are roughly three weeks left in the winter season, and climbers looking to complete an ascent during the coldest months of the year can hear the clock ticking. But, three weeks is plenty of time, and a lot can be accomplished over that period.

On Everest, Alex Txikon and his team have now completed a second day of work on the Khumbu Icefall. Alex and company have been working to restore the route through the icefall, which was disrupted while they spent eight days in Kathmandu. Yesterday, they worked at 5800 meters (19,028 ft), and seemed very pleased with their progress. Soon, they’ll have regained access to the rest of the mountain, and will be watching the forecast for opportunities to launch a summit bid.

Meanwhile, Lonnie Dupre is back in Alaska and preparing to begin another winter expedition of his own. You may recall that he originally had planned to climb Mt. Hunter solo this year but was beaten back by the incredibly tough conditions that he found there. Now, he’s launched an attempt to summit the 3825 meter (12,552 ft) Mt. Carpe instead, and this time he’s not going it alone.

Carpe sits near Denali, the highest mountain in North America and a place that Lonnie is very familar with. In 2015 he made a solo summit of that peak during the winter, become the first to top out alone in the month of January. This time out, Dupre will be joined by Pascale Marceau, a Canadian climber with lots of experience climbing in the Canadian Rockies, where the duo have been training for the past two months.

The expedition is expected to begin on Thursday of this week, and will proceed as the weather permits. Lonnie and Pascale are expecting brutal temperatures, high winds, and possibly heavy snow while they attempt their winter summit. But before they can ever begin to climb, they must first fly into the town of Kantishna, located at the end of the Denali Park Road, then ski to the Muldrow Glacier via Wonder Lake, Turtle Hill, and McGonagall Pass. That’s the same route taken by the team that completed the first ascent of Carpe back in 1913.

It goes without saying that I’ll be keeping an eye on both of these expeditions as they develop over the next few days. I’ll be leaving town for awhile starting next Tuesday, so I may not be able to update the final status on either of the teams, but hopefully we’ll have an idea of their progress before that happens.

Kraig Becker