Grand Marais adventurer resting 4,000 feet short of Denali peakWith the month winding down, Lonnie Dupre is in position to climb to the last camp before the summit of Alaska’s Mount McKinley.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
With the month winding down, Lonnie Dupre is in position to climb to the last camp before the summit of Alaska’s Mount McKinley.
The Grand Marais adventurer is making his third attempt to become the first person to climb the 20,320-foot peak — North America’s highest mountain — solo in January.
Dupre reached 14,200 feet on Tuesday. It took two days to move from his 11,200-foot camp.
“It was quite a push, but got everything here,” Dupre said Tuesday evening on a phone message recorded on the expedition’s Web site.
Dupre planned on resting Wednesday. Weather permitting, Thursday he plans to move supplies to 16,200 feet and return to 14,200 feet to sleep.
The route from 14,200 to 16,200 feet surmounts the mountain’s West Buttress. It presents the steepest climbing along West Buttress route — an 800-foot, 40-to-55 degree snow and ice face known as the Headwall. From 16,200 to the 17,200-foot camp, the route follows just below a ridge line and includes several steep and exposed sections.
Dupre hopes to move to high camp at 17,200 feet on Friday.
“17,000 is my last camp before the summit,” he said. “I’m very excited.”
Severe weather thwarted Dupre’s attempts to reach the summit in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he reached 17,200 feet, where he was pinned down by high winds and ran low on food. Last winter, Dupre called it quits after being pinned down at 14,200 feet for nearly a week by hurricane-force winds.
Part of the purpose for Dupre’s climb is to make a 20-minute documentary film called “Cold Love” to call attention to climate change.
A team of two Russians reached the summit in January 1998. In total, 16 climbers from nine expeditions have reached the summit of Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, during the winter. Six climbers died on those expeditions.