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Expedition Watch: A Solo Climb of Denali in Winter

LonnieDupreWaiting out the storm. Photo: Lonnie Dupre

Lonnie Dupre has attempted to climb Denali in January each of the last two years. Both times he hit bad weather. So he huddled inside snow caves and waited for the conditions to clear. They didn't, even after seven days of sitting. Turning around after so much waiting was the toughest part of his two previous expeditions—he reached 17,200 feet in 2011 and 14,200 feet in 2012—but an easy decision. "If you make the wrong choice in those conditions, that's it," said Dupre in an email.

We checked in with Dupre to find out what he has planned for his third winter attempt at Denali.

WHO: Lonnie Dupre, a 51-year-old polar explorer who has taken a dogsled 3,000 miles across the Northwest Passage in winter, completed a 6,000-mile circumnavigation of Greenland by kayak and dogsled, pulled sleds on skis from Canada to the North Pole twice, and climbed Denali in summer once.

WHAT: Dupre hopes to complete the first solo summit in January after failing each of the last two years. He hopes to reach the 20,320-foot peak this year by hauling 225 pounds of gear up with him via sled and backpack, losing weight as he moves up. He'll outfit himself with gear designed to help prevent falls into crevasses—extra long skis and 14-foot aluminum poles that extend from his body to his sled. He'll install roughly 250 flagged bamboo poles along his route to help with navigation in poor weather. He'll sleep in homemade snow caves, which will help protect him against winds of up to 100mph and temperatures as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit.

WHEN: A month-long climb that will begin in January 2013.

WHY: "Twenty-five years and 15,000 miles of exploring Polar and Arctic regions—all non-motorized—has given me skills for the weather I will be facing on Denali, -60F and extreme winds. Climbing in that is a personal challenge. We hope the adventure of the project will capture the imaginations of many, and [help them] understand why snow and ice are important in our lives and the health of the planet.  That is why we are also producing a documentary called Cold Love." —Lonnie Dupre


SPONSORS: Granite Gear and others

H/T: The Adventure Blog

—Joe Spring

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