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  Lonnie Dupre Winter Denali: 14,000FT Camp at Last Report

Lonnie Dupre flew to the mountain for the expected 1 month climb December 22st, 2011...the darkest time of year. Temperature Christmas evening was -40F degrees on Denali.

Lonnie last reported in at the 14,000ft camp, an amazing place to be given only nine days on Denali. He will need a minimum of three days of good weather to move on from this camp. When he does receive the weather report of good weather he will then move to 17,200ft camp and then, with perfect weather, the summit.

Summiting Denali solo in January is not the only reason Lonnie is climbing Denali. Dupre is partnering with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to collect microbe samples; helping to gain unique insights into the functioning of extreme environments.
“The goal of the data collection is to help scientists understand how nutrient cycling is affected by climate change. Basically, this means we can begin to understand how climate change will affect the production of living matter in extreme environments.” -Lonnie Dupre
"It's a personal challenge," Dupre says, "and also a way to bring attention to the world's receding glaciers and climate change." During the expedition, Dupre will be conducting research and gathering microbe samples for the Biosphere 2 project run by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. The data will give a better understanding of how climate change will affect the production of livingn matter in extreme environments.
Knowledge of this process is also likely to reveal vital clues about the evolution of microbes-rock interaction in these extreme boundary environments and its potential response to alterations in the environmental equilibrium such as climate change


We first want to thank our Lead Sponsor Energizer for their financial support, robust headlamps and providing us with the best cold weather Lithium batteries on the market. Lonnie will be using them for powering our communications, headlamps, cameras, GPS and emergency beacon. Our product and gear sponsors are Rab, MSR, and Midwest Mountaineering. Lonnie has developed a long-term relationship with these companies who offer the best expedition products available. They are great to work with and looking forward to many more years of partnership. You can check out all our sponsors through links on our website…just click on their logos.
We finally received the good word from Talkeetna Air Taxi at 10am this morning that it was a go for a base camp landing on Denali. After making his list and checking it twice we took off around 1pm.


Before arriving to Alaska I spent two and an half weeks training above 9000ft in Colorado. It seemed like there wasn’t a minute to take a breather with all the preparations. I managed to do several high elevation hikes as well as an overnight at 13,000 ft. I’m sure the Park Service wondered what the hell I was doing camping overnight on a mountain that high. Back in Silverthorne I went through personal, medical and repair kits. We tried out our new high definition cameras and put climbing skins on my custom birch skis made by Mark Hansen (founder of North House Folk School). I also purchased key gear like carbon fiber adjustable hiking poles and specific socks for layering in my mountaineering boots. Our friend and host Becky Falch sewed logos from our Lead sponsor Energizer onto expedition clothing and sled cover.

I feel ready for the challenge ahead and want to thank all that have helped get me to this point. Thanks to my friend Buck Benson and Buck’s Radio Shack for supporting us with an Iridium satellite phone. Thanks to Energizer for the best headlamp and batteries on the market as well as making this expedition possible through their generous financial contribution. My best to Carl and Beth Foster for introducing me to Herbalife supplements that have helped me in my training. Thanks to fellow Minnesotans Jeff and Susan Gecas, owners of the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais for great food and a good time.

It’s the first time my team (Stevie & Dmitri) and 10 bags of luggage has assembled all in one place: arriving at the Anchorage airport. From here we made the two-hour car ride to Talkeetna where we unloaded at ‘The Hideaway,’ our basecamp for the expedition. On Friday the 16th we will head back to Anchorage to purchase any last minute supplies and for a presentation. We will return to Talkeetna on the 17th to undergo final prep i.e. making wands for marking the route, checking extended weather forecasts and going over protocol while I'm gone on the mountain. I expect to fly to the mountain around 1:00pm on the 21st of December (winter solstice), that is, weather permitting.

Lonnie Dupre


Denali, aka Mount McKinley, in Alaska, is North America’s highest mountain at 20,320 feet.

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 those individuals have been in January, the darkest and coldest time.

January 2011 was my first attempt at Denali in the winter time. I made a fast ascent to 17,200 feet only to be thwarted there by bad weather, just 8 hours travel shy of the summit. Huddled in a snow cave for 7 days, I waited for a window of stable weather to go to the summit. That day never came. I’m am going back for another try in December 2011.

I have just under a month to get ready for another attempt at soloing Denali this winter. I am now on my way to Colorado for 2.5 weeks to ascend some 14,000-foot peaks to work on climbing techniques and acclimatize to altitude. From there, I fly to Alaska around December 14th then to Denali’s base to start the climb on December 21st.

So far most of the climbing gear and equipment has been acquired less a few key items that are being modified or made. Good friend and ski maker Mark Hansen made the skis I will be using from base camp at 7200 feet to 11,200 feet to my specifications from local Minnesota birch. They will be light, long for spanning crevasse bridges and boot width wide for floatation.

Food rations were packed last week consisting of about 1.25 lbs of freeze dried per day. Breakfast will consist of my hometown whole food store’s granola mixed with goat’s milk. Lunch will be a smorgasbord of chocolate, rye cracker, halva (sesame butter and honey), pecans, and homemade pemmican (cooked bacon mixed with dried cranberries mixed together via a food processor). Dinners will be Mountain House Freeze Dried food in vacuumed packed bags that you can just add boiling water to and stir…no pots necessary.

Like last year I will not take a tent. The winds on Denali are just too much for even the best mountaineering tent. I will use a modified snow trench that will be warmer, safer and quieter when the winds are blowing 100mph. For safety, snow trenches can be re-used and a place to store supplies for the decent.

After nearly 10 years of off and on writing I am happy to announce the release of my new book “Life on Ice” – 25 years of Polar Exploration. The 300-page book with a 32-page color insert of images covers all my projects including crossing the Northwest Passage, circumnavigating Greenland and two North Pole expeditions.


Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.



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