A veteran mountain climber from Argentina has been found dead in the snow 85 percent of the way to the top of Mount McKinley in Alaska, North America's tallest mountain, the National Park Service confirmed Thursday.
Heraldo Javier Callupan, 39, from the city of General Roca in central Argentina, was found by two other climbers Sunday 17,200 feet up the 20,237-foot peak, but because of harsh weather on the mountain face, authorities weren't able to identify him and notify his family until late Wednesday, said Maureen Gualtieri, a spokeswoman for the Park Service.
The body has "no visible signs of trauma," and the cause of death appears to have been unknown medical issues, said Gualtieri, who confirmed reports in Argentine newspapers.
Callupan's remains will stay at the camp until the weather allows and rangers are able to acclimatize themselves to the harsh conditions, Gualtieri said. The Park Service said in its daily status report that the high temperature on that face of Mount McKinley — which many native Americans and Alaska residents call Mount Denali — was 14 degrees Thursday, with high winds and heavy blowing snow.
Callupan was a guide for the Brazilian travel and tourism agency Gente de Montanha (Portuguese for "Mountain People"), the company said. It said in a brief statement that it was "in mourning."
Callupan began a solo ascent up to the base camp at 17,200 feet on May 6, other climbing parties at a 14,200-foot base camp told investigators, according to Gualtieri. The climbers who found him Sunday were the first to reach the higher camp in the four days after he left. He is the first climber to die on the mountain this year, Gualtieri said.
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