Medical Fatality Occurs above Windy Corner on Mt. McKinley

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Date: May 21, 2013
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, (907) 733-9103

TALKEETNA, AK:  A 59-year-old German mountaineer suffered a fatal cardiac arrest at the 13,500-foot level of Mt. McKinley on the evening of Sunday, May 19. Klaus Bielstein of Muenster, Germany was ascending the West Buttress route as a member of an 11-person Alpine Ascents International guided expedition.

According to teammates, Bielstein suddenly collapsed after the team rounded the feature known as Windy Corner, just as they reached a commonly used gear caching site at 13,500 feet.  The expedition guides contacted the Kahiltna Basecamp Manager via radio for emergency assistance and then initiated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the unconscious client. An NPS ranger patrol stationed at the 14,200-foot camp arrived on scene within one hour. An NPS volunteer nurse (RN) performed a medical assessment and pronounced the patient deceased. Bielstein's remains were recovered that evening by the NPS A-Star B3 helicopter via a long-line operation, then subsequently flown to Talkeetna and transferred to a local funeral home.

This fatality was the first significant incident of the 2013 mountaineering season in Denali National Park and Preserve. As of Tuesday, May 21, a total of 920 climbers are registered to climb Mt. McKinley in 2013, with 352 climbers currently on the mountain. Of the 14 that already completed their climbs, five have reached the summit. There are currently 12 mountaineers attempting Mt. Foraker, with no summits recorded.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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