National Park

New Jersey man Fernando Birman dies trying to climb Denali in Alaska

A New Jersey man died Friday night while attempting to climb Denali in Alaska, the highest peak in North America.

The 48-year-old mountaineer, Fernando Birman, of Stockton, New Jersey, collapsed around 5:45 p.m. while trying to scale the side of the mountain, according to the National Park Service.

Mountain guides immediately started CPR, but were unable to save him. Birman never found a pulse and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Birman was not far from reaching the summit before his untimely death – he collapsed at 19,700 feet, and Denali Peak stretches 20,310 feet high.

The National Park Service said his cause of death is unknown, but consistent with sudden cardiac arrest.

Birman’s guides aided in the effort to recover his body from a 19,500ft plateau known as the football field using a short distance basket.

His body was transferred to the Alaska Medical Examiner late Friday evening for a full autopsy.

Denali in Alaska is the highest peak in North America.
AP/Mark Thiessen

The New Jersey man is the third climber to have died in the national park this year.

Last month, a 43-year-old Japanese mountaineer was presumed dead in May when he fell through an ice bridge into a crevasse where he was buried with snow and ice.

On May 6, the body of a 35-year-old Australian mountaineer was found in a notoriously treacherous stretch of Denali Pass – where 12 other people have died over the years, according to the National Park Service. He hadn’t heard from him since April 30.

It usually takes several weeks to reach the summit of Denali and the ascent is only recommended for experts with experience in glacier travel, expedition environments and winter camping in arctic conditions, advises the Nation Park Service.