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Alone in the mountains – Masatoshi Kuriaki still chasing solo ascent of Hunter

by Lorien Nettleton ~ January 12th, 2012

Minnesotan adventurer Lonnie Dupre has called off his quest to climb Mt. McKinley alone in the month of January after 18 days on the mountain. Beset by raging storms, extreme winds, and phenomenal cold, the climber has ceded victory to the Mountain and returned to Talkeetna.

One climber is still out in Denali National Park, steadily making his approach to the third-tallest peak in the Alaska Range. Japanese mountaineer Masatoshi Kuriaki has been steadily making his approach on Mount Hunter since December 14th. It is his 6th attempt to summit Mt. Hunter alone in Winter, a feat never before achieved. Lonnie Dupre reportedly spent a morning with him at base camp as Dupre awaited his flight off the mountain.

The two climbers have different objectives and used different approaches to undertake their challenges.

Dupre came at McKinley with a fast and light Alpine style, carrying only enough supplies and gear to last the month. His ambition was to get up and down McKinley with lightning speed, and be home by the end of January.

Masatoshi’s approach is a more methodical expedition-style approach, where the climber plans on making several trips between each successive camp as he works his way up the mountain. From base camp to camp 1, Masatoshi planned on making 5 trips, one trip per day, where the walking is fairly flat and he will be able to pull his gear on a sled and ski. Between Camp 1 and camp 2, Masatoshi planned on 10 trips, because the pitch is much steeper, and he expects he won’t be able to use a sled.Dupre says that Masatoshi has a good shot at reaching his objective.

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In 2010, Masatoshi spent 83 days on the mountain, including 53 days hunkered down in snow caves waiting out bad weather. This year the Japanese climber says he’s prepared to pursue his goal for 100 days. Masatoshi’s equipment and supplies weighed 570 pounds. Dupre’s supplies weighed in at under 100 pounds.

For both climbers, the decision to abandon their goal and turn back is never easy. Dupre spent seven days in a snow cave, and after evaluating the likelihood of the storms persisting, decided he didn’t have enough supplies to wait out the storm and still make a push for the summit.

Masatoshi says, the hardest part about doing what has never been done before is not the climbing.

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1:36”   Outcue “… decision to give up”

 

Although Hunter is only 14-thousand, five-hundred 73 feet, it has never been ascended in winter by a solo climber.

1 Response to Alone in the mountains – Masatoshi Kuriaki still chasing solo ascent of Hunter

  1. Cary Birdsall

    Thanks for the great story, Lorien. Great stuff from Masatoshi!

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