Minnesota adventurer, Lonnie Dupre, succeeded in becoming the first solo climber to reach the summit of Alaska’s Mount McKinley at 20,320 feet on Sunday, January 11th. In other words, Dupre has single-handedly conquered North America’s tallest peak – woah.
According to the project’s coordinator, Stevie Anna Plummer, Dupre reached the 20,320-foot summit of North America’s tallest peak at 2:08 p.m. on Sunday Alaska time, after having begun his ascent from 17,200 feet at 5 a.m. Once he reached the peak, the 53-year-old sent a text message saying “All OK, Doing Well,” through a SPOT GPS messenger device that confirmed it was sent from the coordinates of McKinley’s summit.
For the summit, Dupre traveled light, packing four liters of water, one chocolate bar, one and half packages of shot blocks energy bar and one ice axe.
“He spent 10 minutes on the summit, took some photos, then he realized exactly how high up he was and decided to head back down. I guess reality struck at that moment,” said Plummer as she was on her way to Alaska to join the Arctic explorer.
The treacherous climb was Dupre’s fourth attempt at a solo summit in January of Mount McKinley, also referred to as Mount Denali. The mountain’s harsh winter weather forced him to turn back in 2011, 2012, and 2013 – he did not attempt the summit in 2014.
Only nine expeditions, totaling 16 people, have ever reached the McKinley summit in winter, and six deaths occurred during those climbs. Of the aforementioned journeys, four were solo. However, none took place in January, which is the most dangerous time of the year on the mountain due to the severe cold and darkness.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, only a team of Russian climbers has ever successfully summited McKinley in January.
This winter, Alaska’s weather has been relatively warm and dry, which offered Dupre a favorable chance to accomplish the summit. But that’s not to say that conditions are as unseasonably warm near the peak of McKinley – every 1,000 feet up means a drop between 3.5 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Lonnie Dupre called in from 11,200ft camp where he rested today,” reads his most recent Facebook update, which was posted on Tuesday. “He plans to get a few hours of sleep and then move onto basecamp as long as the weather continues to clear.”