Yesterday I shared a couple of updates of two winter mountaineering expeditions that have been ongoing. In that update, we learned that polar explorer/climber Lonnie Dupre was about to launch a summit push on Mt. Hunter in Alaska, with the hopes of topping out sometime yesterday. But as it turns out, the weather conditions didn’t cooperate and the route proved to be more difficult than expected, so he and his teammates have now retreated back down the mountain in search of another way to the top.
The 14,573-foot (4442 meter) Hunter isn’t nearly as tall as its neighbor Denali, but it is more technical and just as cold in the winter. That has made for a challenging expedition thus far, although Dupre and company were expecting to make a push for the top yesterday, with a return to Base Camp today. However, upon reaching 10,000 feet (3048 meters) the found that the rock face that was in front of them was too long, difficult, and exposed to climb in winter. This was especially true with the forecast now predicting higher winds bringing extremely cold windchills to the mountain soon. -60ºF/-51ºC temperatures are expected over the next few days, which could make things dangerous for the team.
Today, the climbers will descend back down the mountain and shift their attention to another potential route instead. Their goal is to set up camp and check the forecast before deciding on their next course of action. They believe that they have another path that they can use to reach the summit, but it will take some time to relocate and then look for a proper weather window to make another push for the summit. Considering that there is now just ten days left in winter, the clock is once again ticking on their expedition plans.
Dupre has said that he will share another dispatch later today to update those of us who are following the expedition on their plans. For now, we’ll just have to wait to see what happens next. It is possible that they’ll shift locations, only to find the new route isn’t any better than the original, forcing them to head back down the mountain. Until they can assess the new route though, we’ll just have to wait for a further update.