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A climber from New Jersey collapsed and died Friday evening while attempting to summit the tallest peak in North America, Alaska’s Denali mountain, officials said.
Fernando Birman, 48, of Stockton, New Jersey, collapsed around 5:45 p.m. at an elevation of 19,700 feet while trying to reach the top of the 20,310-foot peak, the National Park Service said in a statement.
Birman’s mountain guides immediately performed CPR, but the climber never regained his pulse, the park service said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officials said Birman’s cause of death was currently unknown, but signs are consistent with sudden cardiac arrest.
Birman was part of a 12-member guided tour that began their ascent on May 22, said Sharon Stiteler, a spokesperson for Denali National Park. Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is one of the tallest mountains in the world.
North America’s tallest peak, Denali, is seen from a turnout in Denali State Park, Alaska, on Oct. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
On average, the Denali expedition lasts between 17 and 21 days in total, with climbers typically reaching the summit on day 12 or 13.
Birman’s hiking guides brought his body to the 19,500-foot plateau known as the Football Field, where Birman was airlifted via helicopter off the mountain using a short-haul basket. His body was then sent to the Alaska medical examiner’s office later Friday night.
A climber from New Jersey collapsed and died while trying to summit Denali, a 20,310-foot mountain in Alaska. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
There have been 129 climbing deaths at the park since 1932, Stiteler said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.