Minnesota Climber phones home on way down McKinley

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota climber making his way down from the summit of Mount McKinley in Alaska said Tuesday that he’s looking forward to a hot shower, then a hot bath, then a salad and fruit — and a celebratory wine or beer.

Lonnie Dupre, of Grand Marais, told The Associated Press by satellite phone that he was drinking hot cocoa at 11,000 feet and waiting for the weather to clear before heading down to his next camp at around 7,500 feet. Weather permitting, he said, he expected to reach the base around noon Alaska Standard Time on Wednesday and get picked up by a bush pilot.

“It’s going to feel good to be warm again,” he said.

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Dupre claimed credit Sunday for becoming the first solo climber to reach the 20,320-foot summit during January, the coldest and darkest month on North America’s highest mountain, also known as Denali, where winter winds frequently top 100 mph and temperatures often fall below minus 60. He used a GPS communicator to transmit his coordinates and let his crew know he made it. Denali National Park officials who keep the records say they expect to add him once he checks in at the ranger station.