(Newsdesk) No one has done a solo winter summit in January of North America’s tallest mountain, Denali/McKinley (20,320 feet / 6,194 m). Lonnie Dupre attempted it January this year but had to abandon his effort after spending 7 days and 6 nights in a 4×4 snow trench in up to 97mph winds. No break in the weather forecast finally forced him down.
A seasoned Arctic polar explorer, Dupre sent over news to ExplorersWeb about another attempt to solo climb Denali in winter, his new book documenting his 25 years of Arctic exploration, Life on Ice - 25 Years of Arctic Exploration, a documentary film, Cold Love, and his new organization, One World Endeavors.
Here go details by Lonnie Dupre:
Welcome to One World Endeavors
Since a young boy I have always loved snow and ice and as a result spent my life exploring Arctic areas. It has given such simple beauty to my life that I want to share, give and preserve these wonderful frozen places.
As a new chapter for me knowing that strength is in numbers I want to introduce you to One World Endeavors (OWE) – us working together as a expedition team along with environmental organizations and legislators to inspire movements around the world against pollution and climate change.
For explorers safety comes from knowledge and thorough planning. One thing explorers can’t do is predict the climate – and knowledge of climate is what keeps you alive. We no longer have stable weather on this planet, which will make it difficult for future expeditions, winter or not.
Solo winter climb Denali January 2013
OWE’s upcoming endeavor is Cold Love - the first solo winter ascent of Denali in January.
The adventure of Cold Love provides a unique opportunity to inspire and engage people around the world via oneworldendeavors.com, Facebook, Twitter, and through a 20-minute documentary film.
Cold Love reveals our planet’s breathtaking world of ice and snow, and the need to keep these frozen regions healthy in order for our planet to survive and thrive. No one knows this more intimately than the Polar explorers and mountain climbers who travel the frozen terrain for us.
I need to be careful about what I do next. I turned 50 recently and it occurred to me that whatever I do, it’s five years of my life. I would never discourage anyone young from becoming an explorer. There are fjords and jungles waiting to be discovered and we can’t only tune into the needs of the environment when times are good. I want to use adventure to capture the world’s imagination, to highlight climate change. I’m not about to slow down. Perhaps my book Life on Ice should have been prefaced ‘my first’ 25 years of Arctic exploration!
Denali Solo Winter Ascent Overview
Denali, aka Mount McKinley, in Alaska, is North America’s highest mountain at 20,320 feet. Denali’s high latitude (bordering the Arctic) along with its unpredictable weather and vast crevasse fields, makes it a challenging climb, even by Himalayan standards.
However, during winter it’s a whole different set of conditions. Winds often exceed 100 miles per hour, temperatures plummet below -60°F, and there’s an average of only six hours of sunlight.
Only nine expeditions totaling 16 people have ever reached the summit of Denali in winter. Six deaths resulted from those climbs. Only one team (comprised of three Russian climbers) has ever made the summit in January...the dead of winter. Of those nine original expeditions, four were solo, but none of the solos were in January, the darkest and coldest time.
The Plan on Denali
The planning has already begun for the projected one-month winter climb, starting January 2, 2013. In June 2010 Lonnie Dupre climbed Denali reaching the summit after 13 days. Using that summer climb Dupre assessed that it would be possible with his 20 years of polar expedition experience to successfully climb the mountain solo in January.
In January 2011, Dupre made a fast ascent to 17,200 feet only to be thwarted there by bad weather, just hours from the summit. Dupre huddled in snow cave for seven days waiting for a window of stable weather to go to the summit. That day never came. He’s going back for another try in January 2, 2013.
Dupre will pull a 5 foot sled and carry a backpack with a combined weight of 225lbs. He’ll be attached to the sled via 14 foot aluminum poles to span crevasses should he slip into one. He will also be using extra long skis up to 11,200 feet for bridging hidden crevasses. At 14,000 feet, Dupre will switch exclusively to crampons and backpacking supplies up the steeper parts of the mountain.
Five thousand calories per day will be needed to stave off the cold and frostbite. Except for soups and drinks, all the food can be eaten without cooking thus conserving weight and fuel.
250 flagged bamboo wands will be carried to mark the route, dangerous crevasse crossings and camps from start to summit to help ensure a safe return during low visibility.
Camps will consist of snow caves which are more reliable against Denaliʼs extreme 100 mph wind and -60°F cold.
To train for the climb Dupre will hike and ski with a 50 pound pack, pull tires, hone climbing skills and acclimate for altitude in Colorado.
COLD LOVE – Documentary
The joy of snow —as it falls from the sky and accumulates on plains and hills and mountains. The call of ice — to skate and fish, and co-exist with polar animals in their natural habitat. That is the wonder that the documentary film Cold Love captures.
This 20-minute video reveals our planet’s breathtaking world of ice and snow, and the need to keep these frozen regions healthy in order for our planet to survive and thrive. Filmed mostly in Alaska, Cold Love is both a love story and a call to action.
The earth’s frozen places are its thermostat, regulating the planet’s temperature and providing a stable environment for every other part of the world. Our cold places need our care —the way our children and loved ones do.
No one knows this more intimately than the explorers and adventurers who travel the frozen terrain for us. As they strip off the trappings of society and carry only the absolute necessities, these adventurers connect to their core selves as they connect to the frozen earth.
The brush of wind against skin tells the forecast. The path of the sun traversing the sky tells the time. The shadows against ice and snow tell the direction they travel. The force of the wind tells whether they travel or not. And all the while, no matter where they go, no matter how difficult the journey, these adventurers feel at home in the cold, a world they are passionate about nurturing.
Why do Polar explorers and mountain climbers remove themselves from the securities and comforts of civilized life to explore the frozen remoteness of our planet? Why do they fall in love with something that can seem so harsh and unforgiving?
We find the answers in Cold Love, which reveals the dramatic beauty and life-giving forces of our earth’s frozen places, as well as the fragile state of its health. And in those answers, one can’t help but be inspired to love and protect that world ourselves. END
During an arctic career spanning 25 years, Lonnie Dupre has traveled over 15,000 miles throughout the high Arctic and polar regions by dog team, ski and kayak. He is descended on his mother's side from Jacques Cartier, the French explorer and founder of Quebec. Lonnie has lived and traveled with the Polar Inuit, learning from these hardy people and developing a deep appreciation for their culture and way of life. Dupre was a member of the world’s first circumnavigation of Greenland and a summer expedition to the North Pole.
-Scott Pearlman Award, 2005
-Rolex Award for Enterprise, 2004
-Polartec Challenge Award, 2001 and 2000
-Elected Fellow, National Explorers Club, 1996
-Honored with running a dog team through the closing ceremony of the - Winter Olympics, Oslo, Norway, 1994
-Soviet "Sportsmans Medal" from Mikael Gorbachev, 1989
This expedition (and other expeditions with RSS feeds) can be followed in the live Dispatch stream at the Pythom App for iPhone and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.
ExplorersWeb Expedition List
North Pole by ski and canoe: Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen recall
Lonely New Year's Eve ahead for Lonnie Dupre on Winter Denali
ExWeb interview with Lonnie Dupre, “I still sleep with my stove pumps”
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