updated 9/26/2009 7:29:11 PM ET 2009-09-26T23:29:11

The husband of U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney has died on a mountain climbing expedition in the Himalayas, aides to the congresswoman said Saturday.

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Clifton Maloney, a millionaire investment banker and avid climber, was resting in a high-altitude camp after a successful ascent to the summit of the world's sixth-highest mountain when he died.

He was 71, a late age for such a grueling endeavor, but had been in excellent health, aides said.

"I am told that his last words were, 'I am the happiest man in the world. I just climbed a beautiful mountain,'" said Barry Nolan, a congressional aide who works with Carolyn Maloney.

Rep. Maloney, a Democrat, was "very shaken" by the death, he said.

Arrangements were still being made Saturday to recover the body from the slopes of Cho Oyu, a 26,906-foot peak that straddles the border of Nepal and Tibet.

Maloney reached the summit with a professional climbing partner and guide, Marty Schmidt, on Friday, or Thursday night Eastern Daylight Time. They rested overnight at a camp at about 23,000 feet.

Maloney died unexpectedly the next day after going to sleep in his tent, Nolan said. The cause of death was unclear, he said.

Nolan wasn't sure whether Maloney was on the Nepalese or Tibetan side of the mountain.

Distinguished millionaire
Maloney was a former vice president of Goldman Sachs who made millions of dollars in investment banking and real estate after establishing his own financial firm, C.H.W. Maloney & Co. He was a director of several companies, including The Wall Street Fund Inc. and Interpool Limited.

A Navy veteran and graduate of Princeton College and Harvard Business School, Maloney also was a seasoned athlete and adventurer. A publicist for the family released a biographical statement saying Maloney had completed the New York City Marathon 20 times and was the oldest man to reach the summit of Cho Oyu.

The family was informed of his death by the Department of State early Saturday.

Carolyn and Clifton Maloney married in 1976. He is survived by his two daughters, his mother, his sister and nine nieces and nephews.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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