by Abby Hancock
Channel 2 News
6:52 PM AKST, January 22, 2011
High winds on Denali Pass have delayed a climber's plans to reach the summit of Mount McKinley. Lonnie Dupre is hoping to be the first solo climber to complete a January ascent.
Strong winds and whiteout conditions could force him to stay put for the next few days.
Dupre, from Minnesota, has been building snow caves instead of using a tent during his ascent. He reached a 17,200-foot level base camp near the summit, and Sunday's update on his website says winds up to 100 mph could be lashing the mountain starting Monday.
In an audio update posted Sunday morning, Dupre described the effects of a 5.29-magnitude earthquake in Denali National Park.
“I had a little bit of a scary experience last night -- my whole snow cave just shook, and I think what happened is a little crevice had formed and opened up a few feet behind me,” Dupre said. “Either that or it was a small earthquake or something, but my whole snow cave shook; I thought, ‘Oh geez, this is how it's gonna go, I'm gonna get buried.’”
Only nine expeditions totaling 16 people have reached the summit in winter. Six people have died in the attempt. Four of the previous winter ascents were by solo climbers -- but none were in January, when temperatures can reach 50 degrees below zero and winds can reach up to 100 mph.
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