- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The National Park Service says more than half the climbers who attempted to reach the summit of North America’s tallest mountain have made it to the top this season.

Park service spokeswoman Maureen Gaultiere told KTUU-TV (https://bit.ly/29z68sc) there are still 11 climbers on Denali trying to reach the summit. The climbing season usually runs from May through mid-July.

The park service on Tuesday removed its staff and equipment used to assist climbers from two base camps on the 20,320-foot Denali at 7,000 feet and 14,000 feet.

Gaultiere said there were 1,126 people who set out to climb Denali this season and 60 percent were successful — well above the 52 percent average.

Earlier on this season, many climbers had been forced to abandon their trips due to high winds and low visibility. Gaultiere said on May 18 that only 30 percent of climbers had reached the top. The success rate eventually shot up as the weather improved, she said.

The National Park Service reported two deaths this season. Masayuki Ikeda, a 66-year-old climber from Japan, died of unknown medical causes in June. Officials are still awaiting autopsy results, but Gaultiere said the death was likely caused by the high altitude.

A Czech Republic mountaineer died after an estimated 1,500-foot fall on the mountain. Pavel Michut, 45, had been skiing Messner Couloir when he lost his footing. At the time, Gaultiere reported that winds at Messner Couloir were gusting at about 40 mph and the snow was very windblown and crusty.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, https://www.ktuu.com

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