CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
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Louisville, KY — Arctic explorer and climber Lonnie Dupre became the first to make a solo winter summit of North America’s highest peak — Alaska’s Mount McKinley, aka Mount Denali (elevation 20,237 feet). Dupre reached the summit at 6:08 p.m. EST on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. Dupre visited the Zoo before he launched his climb in December and will be returning to Louisville for a partnership with the Zoo and The Parklands of Floyds Fork sponsored by Louisville-based Hear In America.
The driving force of Dupre’s expeditions is to raise awareness about climate change in the harshest climate on the planet and the plight of polar bears and the environment. “I spent a lot of time this past year trying to figure out how to inspire folks about our need to do something about climate change,” said Dupre. “So, we have made a one-hour film called Cold Love, which is about Arctic adventure and the world’s need — people’s need — for snow and ice. Snow and ice are important in our polar regions because they help reflect the sun’s energy back into space. Basically, the planet’s polar regions act as a thermostat to keep our planet cool.”
Dupre began his journey 25 days ago when he flew to base camp on Dec. 18, 2014, two weeks after his visit to the Zoo. January is the most inhospitable month to make a climb — and particularly challenging for a solo climber. With winds up to 100 mph and temperatures that can drop below -60 F as well as only six hours of daylight a day, January is a formidable time to climb Mount McKinley. Dupre’s website oneworldendeavors.com reports that “only nine expeditions, totaling 16 people, have ever reached the McKinley summit in winter, and six deaths occurred during those climbs. Of these previous winter expeditions, four were solo, but none was in January, the darkest and coldest time of the year on the mountain. Only a team of three Russian climbers has ever successfully summited Denali in January.”
This was Dupre’s fourth attempt at a solo January summit. It was also to be his final attempt. “The low visibility and extreme winds made ending up in a crevasse or being blown from your feet and off the mountain a real possibility. I constantly paid close attention to my footing,” said Dupre.
The Louisville Zoo will soon be announcing a partnership with Hear in America and The Parklands of Floyd Fork to bring Dupre back to Louisville in February and celebrate his success.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).