Photo: The small specs in this image is Grand Marais climber Lonnie Dupre with his sled as he heads for basecamp. Credit: One World Endeavors
Extreme cold, dwindling food factor into Lonnie Dupre’s decision to turn back.
Mount McKinley 3, Lonnie Dupre 0.
A day that dawned with the possibility of a rare wintertime summit of Mount McKinley instead became the day a Minnesota adventurer abandoned his attempt to reach the top of North America’s tallest peak for the third straight year.
After spending Saturday at 17,200 feet trying to stay warm in a snowcave where the temperature hit minus-35, Lonnie Dupre on Sunday told his support crew he feared continued exposure to such cold could be deadly. He began his descent early Sunday morning, according to a press release from project coordinator Stevie Anna Plummer.
“When he called his base camp at 4 a.m. on (Sunday), it was -35 degrees F in the snowcave,’’ Plummer wrote.
Sunday marked Dupre’s 19th day on McKinley, the majestic 20,320-foot Alaska Range peak. via Anchorage Daily News.
It was virtually a life-or-death decision for Dupre. Even if he had made the summit today, which would have meant a 12-hour or more travel day between 17,200 and the summit and back, he knew he would not have had the energy or means to survive back at the 17,200 camp. Monday’s predicted 50 mph winds and cold temperatures would translate into a windchill of -50 degrees F. Combined with an unfavorable long-term forecast and dwindling food and fuel supplies, Dupre knew his chance of survival would be minimal. “These storms on Denali can last a long time,” said Dupre, “and a climber should never be caught with less then three days of food and eight days of fuel at any point.” via One World Endeavors.
MPR News will host a Google Chat with Dupre when he returns to base camp. Want to join? Send an email to molson[no spam]mpr.org with a question or two you’d like to ask.