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August 9, 2007
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573 summitted Mt. McKinley in 2007

ANCHORAGE, Alaska " Less than half of the climbers who attempted to summit North America's tallest peak this year were successful, Denali National Park and Preserve officials said Thursday.

This season, 1,218 mountaineers attempted various routes on Mount McKinley, with 573 reaching the 20,320-foot summit. Five climbers died.

Climbing Mount McKinley and other Alaska Range peaks is allowed year-round, but weather and unstable glacier conditions typically limit the climbing season from late April to mid-July, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said in a prepared statement.

A new record was set this year for the oldest individual to summit Mount McKinley, she said.

Michio Kumamoto of Tokorozawa, Japan, celebrated his 76th birthday on June 17 while climbing with three companions. Fister said the youngest member of the group was 61 years old.

The team reached the summit June 29, and spent a night camped at 18,500-feet when one climbing partner suffered snow blindness. That person was evacuated, but the others climbed down unassisted.

Masatoshi Kuriaki, of Fukuoka, Japan, became the first solo climber to conquer the nearby Mount Foraker in winter.

Fister said 20 other people unsuccessfully attempted to scale the 17,400-foot peak " North America's sixth largest " after Kuriaki's summit on March 10.

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The VailDaily Updated Aug 9, 2007 06:32PM Published Aug 9, 2007 06:32PM Copyright 2007 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.