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Harrowing Rescues High on Denali: 2 Climbers Saved, Deceased Climber Identified

One member of the three-person climbing team managed to survive in the cave for 2 days until rescuers could reach him.
denali rescue helicopterA rescue helicopter near Denali; (photo/Shutterstock)
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The National Park Service has confirmed the death of Malaysian climber Zulkifli Bin Yusof, whose team sent an SOS signal near the summit of Denali on May 28.

Yusof, 36, likely succumbed to exposure and altitude sickness on May 29 while sheltering in a snow cave at an elevation of 19,600 feet, park officials said. The climber’s body showed signs of exhaustion and dehydration — a result of the team’s strenuous attempt to reach the summit of North America’s highest mountain.

As for Yusof’s two teammates, one of them was able to descend to Denali High Camp at 17,200 feet on May 28, where he was rescued. The other was also in the cave with Yusof but survived until rescuers could arrive on May 31.

For 2 days, clouds and high winds prevented the park’s search-and-rescue teams from reaching the stranded climbers. At 10:30 p.m. Thursday night, a high-altitude helicopter pilot dropped off supplies and returned at approximately 7:00 the following morning with a short-haul rescue basket at the end of a rope.

The mountaineer climbed into the basket and was flown to Kahiltna Basecamp. Park officials said he was later evacuated to the Talkeetna State Airport to transfer to a LifeMed air ambulance. Rescuers returned to the upper reaches of the mountain yet again on Friday evening to recover Yusof’s body.

This is the latest casualty in an already deadly season on Denali.

In May, a Japanese mountaineer died while trying to ascend one of the mountain’s most “treacherous” sections of climbing. A few weeks earlier, New York forest ranger Robbi Mecus also died in an attempt to reach the summit.

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