Friday, January 28, 2011
Denali In January: Heading Home!
For the past several weeks, we've all been following Lonnie Dupre has he attempted his solo climb of Denali in January. We all knew that the polar explorer was tough and could handle frigid conditions, but the task ahead of him was still a daunting one. He hoped to nab the first solo summit of the mountain during its coldest and darkest month. Today came news that the mountain had won, as he is now headed to Base Camp and eventual flight home.
Throughout the month of January, things seemed to be going well for Dupre. The weather was good and he was making steady progress up the 20,320 foot (6194 meter) tall mountain. But last weekend, conditions took a turn for the worse, with high winds and heavy snow hitting the region. Reportedly, Lonnie endured 100 mph winds and -60ºF temperatures while he waited for things to clear. After a few days in a snow cave however, he decided it was best to head back down and wait for a better opportunity. During our last update, on Wednesday, it appeared that that is exactly what he would do as he descended to 14,200 feet.
The updates to his blog today tell a different story however. It seems that he has decided that it isn't safe to climb the mountain any longer, and as the last few days of January slip away, it is best to head home. So, his support team says that he is in the process of moving down to Base Camp, located at about 7200 feet, where he'll wait for a plane to pick him up and take him to Talkeetna. Reportedly, conditions on the way back down have been on the treacherous side, which has made for slow going. But if all goes well, he should be able to catch a flight over the weekend and should be back in civilization soon.
Despite not grabbing the summit, this was an excellent expedition to follow. Lonnie did a great job under very difficult conditions and we're told that he is in good spirits but looking forward to a hot shower, a green salad, and a glass of red wine. Come to think of it, those are the same things I'm looking forward to as well.
Well done Lonnie!