Climber Lonnie Dupre phones home on descent from Mt. McKinley


Lonnie Dupre, the Minnesota climber who summited Mount McKinley in Alaska Sunday (and took the best selfie ever!), described the experience of standing atop North America's tallest peak during a satellite phone call Tuesday with Associated Press reporter Steve Karnowski.

Dupre, 53, said he turned around three times to take it all in.

"The whole skyline opened up before me and I could see the entire length of the Alaskan range," he told Karnowski. "I could see the shadow of Denali that was nicely painted to the north of me. I was thinking I was standing at the top of the shadow. Was it ever nice!"

He didn't linger, though. Dupre said he only stayed at the summit for about 10 minutes before beginning his descent. That's often the hardest part of the journey because climbers are fatigued and need to be especially careful with their footing.

With the successful venture, Dupre became the first person to reach the summit of Mount McKinley (also called Denali) on a solo climb in the month of January.

He told the AP he's looking forward to a hot bath when he gets down.

"It's going to feel good to be warm again," he said.

If the weather cooperates, Dupre said he expects to reach the base before noon Wednesday, where he'll then be picked up by a pilot.

Dupre started the climb on Dec. 18, 2014 (He took the photo above a few days later). This was the fourth year the Grand Marais adventurer attempted to climb to McKinley’s summit in January. Bad weather thwarted his previous attempts, according to Dupre’s website,

Climbing the mountain isn’t easy – only a team of two Russians has reached the mountain’s summit in the month of January, the Duluth News Tribune says. In all, 16 climbers from nine expeditions have reached the summit in the winter – six climbers died on those expeditions, Dupre’s website says.

The mountain is known to have unpredictable weather and vast crevasse fields, making it difficult to climb even in the summer. In the winter, wind speeds can exceed 100 mph and with only six hours of daylight, temperatures often plummet to minus 50 degrees or colder, his website says.

Dupre told the AP this climb was the toughest of all of them, because of high winds and deep snow, adding that he was successful due in part to some good luck.

"I had one short window one day to make it to the summit," he said. "We just happened to pick the right day, and Denali allowed me to climb it."

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Grand Marais climber Lonnie Dupre continues his journey up Mt. McKinley. He is up to 11,200 feet after spending two days huddled in a snow cave because of poor visibility. Dupre is trying to be the first solo person to climb North America's tallest mountain in January. He attempted the same record climb last year, but bad weather forced him to turn around.

Update: Lonnie Dupre reaches 14,200 feet on Mt. McKinley

Lonnie Dupre is about 6,000 feet away from his record attempt on Mount McKinley. The Duluth News Tribune reports the Grand Marais climber reached 14,200 feet late Saturday. He planned to rest on New Year's Day at a place called Windy Corner. Dupre wants to be the first solo person in January to reach the highest peak in North America, known as Denali. He made it to 17,200 feet on his first attempt last year.