Climber Attempting Denali Summit Dies

Cause of death appears 'consistent with sudden cardiac arrest'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2022 1:59 AM CDT
Climber Attempting Denali Summit Dies
In this Oct. 1, 2017, photo, North America's tallest peak, Denali, is seen from a turnout in Denali State Park, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)

A New Jersey man attempting to climb North America's highest peak on Friday night collapsed and died just 610 feet from the summit. Fernando Birman had reached 19,700 feet of elevation on Denali in Alaska when he collapsed; CPR was started immediately, but he never regained a pulse, CNN reports. Per a National Park Service news release, a cause of death has not yet been determined, but his death appears to be "consistent with sudden cardiac arrest." His guides got his body to a 19,500-foot plateau, from which it was recovered and transferred to the state medical examiner.

Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is 20,310 feet tall, and reaching the summit requires multiple weeks. Climbers must traverse rough terrain including glaciers and deal with high altitude and harsh weather. At least two other climbers have died on the mountain so far this year. Birman was part of a 12-member guided tour that started its ascent May 22, the Anchorage Daily News reports. (More Denali stories.)

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