“A mountain as big and complex as Hunter, at 64º north and in winter always has the edge. You can have all the skill and drive and time in the world, but without a good helping of plain old luck with conditions and weather it won’t work out.” - Willi Prittie, veteran mountaineer.
After an early start and a full day of seeking an alternate route up, Dupre had to turn around. He climbed some steep, technical pitches, but did not have sufficient rock protection to continue. On his decent, he broke through a bergschrund (a crevasse created where the glacier meets the mountain). He arrested his fall at shoulder level, but both feet were dangling in the void. With great effort and time, he managed to get himself and his backpack out of the crevasse. He was pretty shook up.
After enduring several days of brutal cold and high winds, he headed back to the landing strip. The conditions on the mountain, a dense crust on top of unsupportive snow, made it impossible to travel safely.
For Dupre and many other mountaineers, it is not the risk, but the value of life and experience that comes first. To evaluate and make an executive decision when the conditions do not allow, to not press on regardless of what ego may whisper in their ear, or to know when the mountain says “maybe next year.” While all good things take time, Dupre is happy to be safe in Talkeetna with a wealth of experience and knowledge to add to project Cold Hunter One.
Stay tuned for Dupre's audio update and images from the mountain.