Lonnie Dupre calls off attempt to summit Mt. McKinley

Lonnie Dupre
Lonnie Dupre

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Surprenant: Lonnie spent the night at 10,000 in a snow cave that he built on the way up. Hopefully today, it’s good weather, he’ll proceed down and maybe make base camp tonight at 7,800.

Sounds like, from the reports that I’ve read, it was obviously the weather but also partly the fact that the altitude at that time and just staying in one place, all of that kind of mounts up, right?

Surprenant: Yeah, when you’re at that altitude, you know, above, he was at 17,200 for six nights and just with inactivity, you do start to wear down. Constantly trying to keep yourself warm; the oxygen is about 50 percent of what we have here, and it just takes it’s toll. You’re not gaining strength; you’re slowly losing it.

So, what’s the plan? Come back to base camp and does he get picked up by air or does he actually come down to where you are?

Surprenant: Yeah, what he’ll do is get to base camp which is 7,200 on the lower glacier. When we dropped him off, he’s got three gallons of fuel and actually a tent. And so, he could stay there for awhile. It kind of all depends on the weather. He could be in sunshine at 7,200 and we could be clouded in with snow here in Talkeetna. So, it’s just a matter of a weather window that we get clear so that we can go up there and land on the glacier and get him on the plane and pick him up.

What’s the weather like, as far as you know, on the mountain and where you are at Talkeetna?

Surprenant: Last night, Lonnie said he had mild conditions comparatively probably zero with little wind, which is quite balmy from what he’s been in. We’ve been experiencing snow, actually in the high 20s, warmer than you guys in Minnesota, with a lot of snow. We got about 10 inches yesterday.

Let me ask you, how is his health?

Surprenant: His health is good. He’s, you know, to be expected, tired and sore, but that’s part of the game. But, he’s got all of his fingers and toes, which is a big deal and mentally and everything, he’s in good spirits.

Well, you know, I’m sure he’s disappointed, but on the other hand, I’m and all of us are glad that he’s safe and will be OK and it sounds like he made a difficult but probably the correct decision in terms of taking care of himself.

Surprenant: Yeah, yep. I mean, we weighed all of the decisions and you know, you need a good combination of a weather window and the proper conditions. Yeah, it would have been a mistake to try to summit with the short window of weather, good weather, that we did have and made the right decision to actually move down instead.

If you see Lonnie before we have a chance to talk to him, give him our best and tell him we’re thinking of him and certainly waiting to talk to the both of you when you get back here, talk about your experience.


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