You might have missed the news from Denali with all of the light shined on the Dawn Wall project in Yosemite. Of course, the Dawn Wall project was a brilliant effort. Seven years worth of perseverance, problem solving, and transformation for Tommy Caldwell. Five for Kevin Jorgeson.
I have been a Caldwell fan since sometime before he was kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan. I also remembered thinking his career would never be the same again when I learned he cut off his finger. I thought that his traverse of the Fitz Roy massif with Alex Honnold might be his most memorable accomplishment.
The media focus on El Capitan’s Dawn Wall route these past three weeks has been impressive. It was the 2015 equivalent of setting up your picnic under the Eiger’s north face to watch the first attempts unfold through binoculars. It gave me the opportunity to talk about (and explain) climbing to people I wouldn’t normally.
Still, I felt like one of my secret treasures was suddenly exposed. I was proud but part of me wanted to put it back in its box.
Also during the same last three weeks, another milestone climb with a story of perseverance was unfolding in the far north, on Mount McKinley/Denali: Lonnie Dupre made his fourth attempt in five years to climb Denali alone in January. He summited on January 11, 2015 around 2:15 p.m. local time.
Why hasn’t Dupre received more attention? I mean, like Caldwell and Jorgeson, Dupre wasn’t the first to climb their route. El Capitan has been summited hundreds of times and same with Denali. However, the numbers dwindle when you consider how they climbed their line. For Dupre, 16 people have summited Denali in winter already. But no one has topped out alone in January, the heart of the coldest season.
Until now. But I wouldn’t want Lonnie Dupre to get the same treatment as Caldwell and Jorgeson. Could he? Should he?
Of course, Caldwell and Jorgeson are both extroverted with strong sponsors. While on the other hand, Dupre takes a different approach to his fundraising and promotion. It’s more in tune with the climbing and adventure audience (well, at least it’s in tune with some purists). Plus, Alaska is much more remote that is Yosemite Valley. CNN wouldn’t travel so far, I don’t think.
Climbers know what Dupre did even if the world didn’t focus on it. And I’m okay with that.
So congratulations to Lonnie, Tommy and Kevin. Thanks for sharing your journeys with me.