Minnesota climber slowed in rare solo, winter ascent on Mt. McKinley


No one has ever reached the summit of Mt. McKinley in a solo attempt in January, and Grand Marais adventurer Lonnie Dupre is once again discovering why.

“He’s had seven feet of snow in the past two days,” project coordinator Stevie Plummer told the Duluth News Tribune. “He’s been digging himself out.”

Dupre, 51, was dropped by plane at a base camp at 7,200 on McKinley on Jan. 8, and he was on the move through Saturday, reporting deep snow. But he hasn't moved since, camped at 8,800 feet on the 20,320-foot Alaskan mountain often called Denali.

This is Dupre's third attempt to climb North America's highest peak solo in winter. Only 16 have scaled the mountain to its top in the winter, but all as part of teams.

He's dragging a sled and carrying a backpack that weighs a total 225 pounds, and making snow caves for shelter, which provide more protection against the cold and wind than tents, according to his website. He's planting 250 flagged bamboo wands along his path to help him find his way back.

The climber's website offers more details about the ascent, and his previous two climbs: "In January 2011, he made a fast ascent to 17,200 feet only to be thwarted by bad weather just hours from the summit. Dupre huddled in his snow cave for 7 days but the window of stable weather he needed to continue to the summit never came. In 2012, he tried again. This time even worse weather trapped him lower on the mountain. Neither attempt discouraged him. Each time, Lonnie learned more about the equipment he needed and the weather he needed to be successful. He’s bringing all this knowledge to his 2013 journey."

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Grand Marais climber going for Mt. McKinley summit record

Lonnie Dupre, of Grand Marais, hopes to be successful with his second attempt to become the first solo climber to summit Alaska's Mount McKinley in January. According to the Duluth News Tribune, Dupre spent 22 days alone on North America's highest mountain when a storm kept him from reaching the top on his first try last year.

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.