DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE, Alaska (AP) -- A climber fell to his death early Sunday while descending Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve, the National Park Service said.
The fatality was the first on the 20,320-foot mountain this year, and the first since 1998. Mount McKinley is North America's highest mountain.
The Park Service was withholding the name of the climber until his family could be notified. Few details were immediately available.
The man, who was climbing solo, was descending from the 18,000-foot level on Denali Pass just after midnight when he fell approximately 1,000 feet. The fall was witnessed by climbers and a ranger at a camp at 17,200-feet. The body was to be recovered later Sunday.
While the death was the first on Mount McKinley this year, it was not the first this climbing season in Alaska.
On June 18, three Anchorage-area brothers who were experienced climbers died while descending nearby Mount Foraker, also in Denali National Park. The brothers were roped together when they apparently fell 2,000 feet.
The 17,400-foot Mount Foraker is about eight miles southwest of Mount McKinley. While it is not as tall as Mount McKinley, it is considered more technically difficult.
On June 19, one of the county's top climbers, Jack Tackle of Bozeman, Mont., was rescued from the 14,070-foot Mount Augusta after he was caught in a rockslide and injured. Mount Augusta is at the north end of the Alaska Panhandle near the point where Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon come together.
More than 1,200 climbers registered to climb Mount McKinley this year. According to the Park Service, 183 climbers are still on the mountain.
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