New Jersey Man Dies at 19,700 Feet on Alaska's Mt. Denali, North America's Highest Mountain Peak

Fernando Birman, 48, is the third person to die in the last month while attempting to summit Mount Denali, according to the National Park Service

DENALI NATIONAL PARK, AK - MAY 17: An aerial view of Mt. McKinley (top center) on May 17, 2014 in Denali National Park, Alaska. According to the National Park service, the summit elevation of Mt. McKinley is 20,320 feet above sea level, making it the highest mountain peak in North America. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Denali National Park. Photo: Lance King/Getty

A New Jersey man has become the third person to die in the last month while attempting to summit Mount Denali in Alaska, officials said.

Fernando Birman, 48, of Stockton, was climbing the tallest peak in North America on Friday when he collapsed at 19,700 feet, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

Birman's mountain guides "immediately" began CPR around 5:45 p.m. local time, but the climber was pronounced dead at the scene, the service said.

"The cause of death is unknown," NPS officials added, "but consistent with sudden cardiac arrest."

The victim's body was transferred to the State of Alaska medical examiner that same night following a body recovery mission "using a short-haul basket" on a 19,500-foot plateau known as the Football Field.

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DENALI NATIONAL PARK, ALASKA - UNDATED: General view of the West face of Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park in Alaska. (Photo by: Mike Powell/Getty Images)
Denali National Park. Mike Powell/Getty

Birman is the third person to die in 2022 while attempting to reach the top of Mount Denali. Two other men — one from Austria and another from Japan — died while attempting the same feat this year.

On May 6, national park officials confirmed the death of 35-year-old Matthias Rimml, who was found dead after going missing during his climb. Park officials said the Austrian professional mountain guide was the first registered climber to try and reach the summit of Mount Denali this year.

"Rimml likely fell on the steep traverse between Denali Pass at 18,200 feet and the 17,200-foot plateau, a notoriously treacherous stretch of the West Buttress route," the agency said in a news release at the time.

Sunset on Mount Denali previously known as Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America, at 20, 310 feet above sea level. Alaska Mountain Range, Denali National Park and Preserve.. (Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty

Two weeks later, a 43-year-old climber from Kanagawa, Japan "fell through a weak ice bridge" near his team's camp at approximately 8,000 feet "on the southeast fork of the Kahiltna Glacier," the NPS said in a news release. The victim was "un-roped from his teammates" when the fall occurred.

It takes around two weeks to climb and reach the summit of Mount Denali, according to the NPS website. The agency has warned climbers that the mountain "is a very serious undertaking and should be treated as such."

"Because glacier travel is such a huge component of climbing Denali, it is imperative to your safety and survival that your team is skilled with proper glacier travel, route finding, and crevasse rescue procedures," their site says.

"Denali is an expedition," officials add, "meaning that the mountain is almost always a multi-week endeavor, which is very different than an overnight or even multi-day climb."

Additionally, all team members are encouraged to have previous experience in the "expedition environment" of climbing.

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