Polar Explorer Lonnie Dupre Interview

Lonnie Dupre endures the cold on high altitude climbsFor over 25 years Lonnie Dupre has been exploring the colder parts of our planet. Travelling by ski, kayak and dog sled, Lonnie has travelled over 14,000 miles across various regions of the Arctic. These expeditions include travelling across the North West passage, circumnavigating Greenland and two journeys to the North Pole.

With Australia’s John Hoelscher, Dupre dog sledded and kayaked the perimeter of [Greenland] covering 6517 miles all non-motorized in three visits. In being the first to round the island, the men dog sledded 3442 miles and kayaked 3075 miles.

Over the period of time that he has been exploring, Lonnie has witnessed first hand the effects that global warming is having on the wild environment in the Arctic. Lonnie Dupre is a member of ICECAAP, which is a consortium of international explorers, guides and professional adventurers who are trying to educate individuals, corporations and governments about the effects of global climate change, and to inspire them to take action before it is too late.

Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen pulled and paddled modified canoes over 600 miles of shifting sea ice from Canada to the North Pole. This journey, called the One World Expedition, was the first to get to the Pole over sea ice in the summer, and created 68 million impressions worldwide on issues of global warming.

In January 2011, Lonnie Dupre attempted a solo climb to the summit of Denali (aka Mount McKinley). At 6194 m (20,320 ft) , Denali is the highest mountain in North America. A winter summit is a tough challenge that few mountaineers have attempted before. With harsh 100 mph winds, extremely cold -45 °C temperatures and few daylight hours, the conditions are treacherous at best. After spending seven days in a snow cave at 5242 meters (17,200 ft) dangerous conditions forced Lonnie back down the mountain. Frustratingly, the snow cave was only an 8 hours climb from from the summit. However, Lonnie does not give up easily and will be back in January 2012 for another winter summit attempt!

250 bamboo wands will be carried to mark the route, dangerous crevasse crossings and camps from start to summit to help ensure a safe return during low visibility. Camps will consist of snow caves… since even modern expedition tents cannot hold up to Denali’s winter winds. Snow caves are more reliable and warmer, essential when it’s -45 °C outside.

Lonnie Dupre Interview

We wanted to find out about Lonnie, his ascent of Denali and whether anything can be done to reduce the CO2 emissions that are effecting our planet.

CheapTents: What inspired you to explore Arctic and polar regions?

Lonnie Dupre: I have always like winter over summer. I get a headache when the temperature is over 70 [21 °C]. I always wondered how cold does cold get as a young boy and how the Inuit deal with cold.

CheapTents: What is you biggest weakness?

Lonnie Dupre: I’m selfish and find it hard to be alone.

CheapTents: What has been your worst injury (if any) from outdoor activities and how did it happen?

Lonnie Dupre: None…though I fell off a roof and broke both legs shortly after completing the 6500 mile first circumnavigation of Greenland.

CheapTents: In January you attempted to summit Denali in extremely harsh winter conditions. Why did you set yourself this challenge?

Lonnie Dupre: I have successfully been to the North Pole twice and a winter ascent of Denali was a new personal challenge

CheapTents: What were the highlights of the expedition?

Lonnie Dupre: Seeing and being on Denali in January when few else have. The light and intimacy is amazing.

Self-taken photo of Lonnie Dupre mountaineering
Denali in January.
The light and intimacy is amazing.

CheapTents: During this expedition bad weather forced you to wait in a snow cave for 7 days. How did you pass the time?

Lonnie Dupre: Listening to NPR on the radio, melting water and going over gear.

CheapTents: You intend to attempt to summit Denali this coming January. Is there anything that you will do differently on this next expedition?

Lonnie Dupre: Lot less food and 3oz [85 g] more gas each day.

CheapTents: You have been an Arctic explorer for over 25 years. Have you noticed the affect of climate change in Arctic during this time?

Lonnie Dupre: Yes…North Pole expeditions as we know them will be a thing of the past in less then 7 years. Governments need to impose strict CO2 emission reduction legislation.

CheapTents: Do you believe that we can do anything to reduce the affect of climate change?

Lonnie Dupre: No but our governments can. Because as long as gas, coal and the emission of CO2 is cheap nothing is going to stop it other then government regulation.

CheapTents: What are your favourite bits of gear, and why?

Lonnie Dupre: My Petzl ice axe. Say no more

CheapTents: Any people or sponsors that you would like thank?

Lonnie Dupre: I would like to thank 3M Thinsulate and Scotch reflective fabrics, Energizer batteries and headlamps, Fox River socks and Herbalife

CheapTents: Anything else you would like to say?

Lonnie Dupre: Thanks


Thank you Lonnie for answering our questions and giving us an insight into your challenging expeditions.

Map of Greeland showing the stages of Lonnie Dupre's circumnavigation
Lonnie Dupre has circumnavigated Greenland by dogsled and kayak

Lonnie Dupre
– Expeditions & Awards

  • Polar Climb 1 2011 – Winter expedition on Denali (Mount McKinley) Alaska.
  • Peary Centennial North Pole Expedition 2009 – Ellesmere Island to the North Pole.
  • One World Expedition: Summer Expedition to the North Pole 2006 – pulled and paddled modified canoes over 600 miles of shifting sea ice from Canada to the North Pole.
  • Circumnavigation of Greenland 1997-2001 – 6517 miles by dogsled & kayak.
  • Banks Island Expedition 1995 – 250 mile hike in Canada’s high Arctic archipelago.
  • Lillehammer, Norway to Murmansk, Russia 1994 – 1000 mile dogsled for Winter Olympics.
  • Northwest Passage Expedition 1991-92 – 3000 mile dogsled across Alaska & Canada.
  • Bering Bridge Expedition 1989 – 1000 mile dogsled in Siberia & Alaska.
  • Brooks Range, Alaska 1985-86 – Living off the land throughout the winter.
Mountaineer Lonnie Dupre summits a mountain
On top of the world! Lonnie Dupre makes the summit!
  • Scott Pearlman Award, 2005.
  • Rolex Award for Enterprise, 2004.
  • Polartec Challenge Award, 2001 and 2000.
  • Elected Fellow, National Explorers Club, 1996.
  • Honored with running a dog team through the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Oslo, Norway, 1994.
  • Soviet “Sportsmans Medal” from Mikael Gorbachev, 1989.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this interview, why not read some of our interviews with other polar explorers?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.