Sunday the 8th was spent trying to travel from 7,800ft to 7,200ft basecamp. Though the elevation is minimal, the distance is long. Lonnie had called in at about 5:30pm yesterday evening saying he had just been caught in the worst blizzard he’d traveled in 25 years. Whiteout conditions with howling winds prevented Lonnie from being able to leave the bamboo wand he was next to and continue on. The bamboo wands were previously placed on the ascent so that Lonnie would know where the crevasses lye and could ski following them without a ladder on the descent.
He then tried to dig down, but hit solid ice only three feet below him and then walked as far as the visibility would allow, tried digging down again and ran into the same problem. Lonnie, laying flat in a snowcave no more than 18in high, tried to get a few hours of rest through the weather conditions. Luckily he had warm water from earlier, but couldn’t even tilt the bottle up to drink from it without hitting the top of his snowcave 5in above him.
At around 2:30am the weather subsided leaving clear skies and a perfectly full moon. Lonnie could not see his bamboo wands, but could see where basecamp was from the well lit skies so then decided to push on via a new route using wind navigation. The image above is from Lonnie’s Peary Centennial North Pole Expedition in 2009 and shows navigation via wind and sun.
At 4:30am Alaska time Lonnie phoned in to say he’d arrived at basecamp. We’re all thankful he’s in a safe area and will hopefully be picked up this morning via Talkeetna Air Taxi if the weather allows. We’ll let you know as soon as Lonnie is safe & sound and back in Talkeetna.
Update from: www.lonniedupre.com