Naperville man dies at summit of Mount McKinley

July 7, 2008 8:58:36 PM PDT
A man from suburban Naperville has died while climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska.Fifty-one-year-old James Nasti was an executive with Kraft Foods.

He collapsed and died near the summit Friday.

He was an experienced and skilled climber near the summit of Mount McKinley when he died. And his family says they may never know for sure what caused his death.

Son Chris Nasti has hundreds of pictures of his father on various mountains - climbing was his passion. In fact, James Nasti was part of the High Pointers Club, a group that that aims to reach the highest point in every state in the country. Mount McKinley in Alaska was the highest point and most difficult climb in the nation and James Nasti was just feet away from the summit when he suddenly collapsed.

"One of the things we're trying to take comfort in is if there was a better place to pass away from a sudden heart attack, it's there," said Chris Nasti.

It's too difficult to try to recover his body right now. So the family is left to assume a heart attack or aneurysm may have killed James Nasti.

A recent stress test turned up no problem.

"To find it was actually a heart attack or some kind of sudden death was the most unexpected part of all of it," said Chris Nasti.

The climb was a three-week trip. The other members of the group, including James Nasti's best friend, were expected to be down from the mountain Monday. His family is trying to come to grips that he will not be among them.

"It would be nice to have the body back but also be fine if he had his final resting place at the top of the mountain," said Chris Nasti.

The forest service says James Nasti is the first person to die on Mount McKinley in 20 years.

Authorities say James Nasti was a client on an Alpine Ascents International expedition that began climbing on June 20.

According to the two expedition guides, Nasti exhibited no signs of distress or illness throughout the trip.

Denali National Park mountaineering rangers told the guides to bring the other four clients back down the mountain.

They say a recovery of Nasti's body from the knife-like ridge would be extremely high-risk.

James Nasti's death brings the toll on McKinley to 101 people since 1932. Park officials said this is the first time a climber has died at the summit.

The family is planning a memorial service Saturday, July 19 at 10 a.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 300 E. Gartner Rd., Naperville.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Load Comments