Climber dies during Denali summit attempt

A climber from New Jersey died on Friday while trying to scale the Denali mountain in Alaska, the National Park Service said in a press release.

Fernando Birman, 48, died at an elevation of 19,700ft while trying to reach the top of the mountain. Denali, which measures 20,310ft, is the highest mountain peak in North America.

Birman was part of a 12-member guided tour that began its journey on 22 May, said Sharon Stiteler, the spokesperson of Denali National Park.

As soon as Birman collapsed, his mountain guides initiated CPR but he never regained a pulse and was pronounced dead at the scene, the park service said. While the cause of his death is unknown, it was consistent with that of a heart attack, it added.

The body was taken to the medical examiner’s office on Friday with the help of a helicopter.

Birman is at least the third climber to have died at the park since May alone.

On 18 May, a Japanese climber died after falling through an ice bridge into a crevasse on Mount Hunter. The 43-year-old climber, not officially named by authorities, was unroped from his teammates when he fell through a weak ice bridge near their camp at approximately 8,000ft on the southeast fork of Kahiltna Glacier.

It came weeks after 35-year-old solo Australian climber Matthias Riimi was reported dead on 7 May, four days after he went missing.

So far, 129 climbers have died in the park since 1932.

Formerly known as Mount McKinley National Park, it is spread over more than six million acres of wild land and is home to Denali.

Travellers see relatively low-elevation taiga forest on their way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in the continent’s tallest peak.

Additional reporting by agencies

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