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Mountaineer Lonnie Dupre has made a habit of accomplishing astonishing outdoor feats, and his most recent accomplishment—summiting 20,237-foot Denali by himself in January—bolsters his superhuman credentials even further.
On Sunday January 11th, Dupre became the first person ever to successfully solo climb North America’s highest peak in the treacherous month of January. Dupre finally broke through after unsuccessful attempts to accomplish the feat each of the past three years. In his previous tries, Dupre climbed as high as 17,200 feet before being turned back by harsh weather.
Dupre’s accomplishment will go down as one of the more impressive ones in the history of the mountain. Prior to his ascent, there had been just 16 successful Denali summits in the winter, resulting in six deaths. Only one group, comprised of three Russian climbers, had ever completed the summit in January.
Dupre’s expedition began on December 18th, when he began ascending the popular West Buttress route. Battling 100 mile per hour winds, temperatures as low as negative-60 degrees Fahrenheit, and just six hours of sunlight per day, he reached his high camp on Saturday, January 10th before making his summit attempt. On Sunday, he sent a GPS message saying “All OK, Doing well” from the summit.
As of January 12th, Dupre was safely back at 11,200 feet and on his way back to base camp at an elevation of 7,200 feet. He was using a 70 liter backpack and pulling a 5-foot-sled weighed down with some 165 pounds of supplies at lower elevations before he switched to backpacking for the steeper parts of the climb. He also carried 175 bamboo wands to mark the route, crevasses, and his camps to ensure a safer descent.
One thing he did not carry? A tent. Dupre built snow caves, as he has done in the past, for shelter instead of taking on the extra weight of a tent.
“It was an amazing trip and challenge, but I wouldn’t want to repeat it,” Dupre said in a press release. It was the type of journey where one had to be on his toes at all times, monitoring the weather, available daylight, overall plan and supplies all while being at high altitude.”
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