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Contact: Maureen Gualtieri, (907) 733-9103
TALKEETNA, AK: A Japanese climber died of unknown medical causes high on Denali's West Buttress route the morning of June 14.Masayuki Ikeda, age 66 of Toride, Japan was a member of a 4-person climbing team making a bid for the summit of Denali the night of June 13 when he fell ill.
Another independent climbing team was descending from the summit in the early morning hours of June 14 when they encountered Ikeda and his three climbing partners somewhere between 18,400 feet and 19,000 feet. At that point, Mr. Ikeda had an altered mental status and was non-ambulatory. The descending team provided initial assistance, and then continued down to the high camp at 17,200-feet where they used a satellite phone to alert park rescue personnel.
Denali National Park launched the high altitude A-Star B3e helicopter from Talkeetna at 7:45 a.m. under clear skies. After an initial reconnaissance flight, the helicopter pilot flew back to the 18,400-foot elevation with a short-haul rescue basket. The teammates loaded the Mr. Ikeda into the basket, and he was short-hauled down to the 14,200-foot camp.
Upon initial assessment, NPS and military rescue personnel at the 14,200-foot camp did not detect a pulse. They loaded the patient internally in the helicopter and two Air National Guard Pararescuemen began resuscitation efforts during the flight down to the Kahiltna Basecamp at 7,200 feet. They continued advanced life support (ALS) care at basecamp, but the Mr. Ikeda was pronounced deceased at 9:40 a.m. The climber's remains were then flown to Talkeetna and subsequently transferred to the State of Alaska Medical Examiner.