Lonnie spent 7 days and 6 nights in a 4×4 snow trench in up to 97mph winds, but still remained mentally strong and physically healthy with every intention on continuing upward.
Spending all of yesterday analyzing weather it seemed that there may be a possible break in the winds for a day, but then picking up after a series of low pressure systems blow over to the South. This would possibly allow Lonnie to climb to 17,200ft (high camp), but would then pick up again and not diminish in the foreseeable future. To be stuck at high camp with only 8 days worth of supplies is too big of a gamble without having at least a three days of probable weather.
Lonnie Dupre, having great appreciation for mother nature, had to make the call Friday to descend after counting rations and fuel and adding those up with the weather probability. “Due to poor weather, low visibility and extreme winds, I was forced to make the decision to descend after receiving word that there was another week of the daunting weather around the corner. You just can’t climb being blown off your feet!” -Lonnie Dupre.
We do not see this climb as a failure, but as a truly inspiring man testing the limits of dark, cold extremes to bring attention to climate change. Lonnie will be also be descending with the microbe samples collected for Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation‘s study of how climate change will affect the production of living matter in extreme environments.
Lonnie spent the day in heavy winds climbing from 14,200ft over 1,000ft to collect his stashed gear on the Headwall and then descending all the way down to 11,200ft. On his descent yesterday Lonnie managed to get around Windy Corner without being blown off his feet by using both ice axes and crampons to dig in as the gusts would hit him. He then proceeded down Squirrel Hill, an icy slope at 12,000ft, in the dark. The gusts were up to 80mph and blew Lonnie off his feet, but was able to self arrest. He then had to down-climb the remaining 3/4 of Squirrel Hill backwards daggering with both ice axes and using crampons to prevent being blown off his feet again.
Lonnie arrived at 11,200ft yesterday evening after a very long day of traveling over 4,000ft in various elevations. We’ll keep you posted on his progress on the journey back to 7,200ft as we hear from Lonnie. The image above was taken by Buck Benson showing Lonnie Dupre and Tom Surprenant on Windy Corner during the 2010 summit of Denali.