Update, 10:32 a.m. Sunday, June 18:
A Denali climber died at about 17,000 feet while descending the mountain early Friday, the first climber to perish on North America's tallest peak this year, according to Denali National Park and Preserve officials.
Park spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri said the victim's name was being withheld pending next-of-kin notification overseas. The climber was heading down the popular West Buttress route of Denali when rangers received a request for help about 1 a.m.
"An independent party of three had been descending from Denali Pass when one of the teammates collapsed due to unknown illness," Gualtieri wrote in a statement. "By the time the initial team of two (National Park Service) mountaineering volunteers reached the scene, the climber was unresponsive."
The climber received emergency medical care, Gualtieri said, but never regained consciousness. The climber's remains are at the 17,200-foot high camp and will be recovered when weather conditions permit.
Poor weather prevented the park's high-altitude helicopter from reaching the area Friday morning. Gualtieri said around 5 p.m. that the weather appeared to be clearing up, and it was possible the remains would be recovered Friday night.
"Conditions were very windy this morning," Gualtieri said Friday. "As soon as the weather permits, we will recover those remains."
So far this year, rangers have responded to a few climbers who have fallen into crevasses on Denali, as well as a number of medical calls.
"Generally it's been a pretty quiet year, both on the mountain and in the park," Gualtieri said.
Alaska Dispatch News reporter Jerzy Shedlock contributed to this report.