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Solo Climber From Japan Found Dead After Falling From North America's Tallest Peak

Denali measures 20,310 feet at its peak, making it the tallest mountain in North America.

A solo Japanese climber was found dead on Monday after falling from the upper reaches of North America’s highest mountain, the Guardian reported. The climber, identified as T. Hagiwara from Japan was attempting a solo ascent of Denali’s 6,190m summit and kept in touch with family through an inReach communication device.

However, when they didn’t hear from him for several days, the family contacted park rangers on May 19. Upon investigation, rangers were able to identify the fallen climber’s location at 17,000 feet using data from his satellite communication device.

Data showed its location had not changed since 16 May, “suggesting a fall from the Denali pass traverse took place on that day”, officials said.

”Mountaineering rangers patrolling the upper mountain quickly located the climber’s empty tent at the top of the 16,200-foot ridge. Through interviews, rangers also determined the last known sighting of the climber. Another climbing team had witnessed them traversing from the 17,200 feet plateau to Denali Pass at 18,200 feet on Wednesday, May 15,” The National Park and Preserve (NPS) said in a news release.

According to the NPS, his body was secured in place and returned to high camp.

Park spokesperson Paul Ollig said conditions in the area were extremely icy.

“We don’t have any information to share on what may have caused the fall, or whether it occurred while the climber was ascending or descending. This traverse can be tricky,” he said. 

Denali, also called Mount McKinley, measures 20,310 feet at its peak, making it the tallest mountain in North America. Denali’s climbing season typically begins in early May and ends in early July, according to Denali National Park and Preserve. Meanwhile, another 352 climbers are currently on the same route, according to park officials.

At least 14 climbers have died along the more dangerous part of Denali’s West Buttress route since 1980.