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Retiree Dies from Altitude Sickness While Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: 'A Great Man'

Jon Clarke, 60, was a longtime veteran of the newspaper business in Australia

<p>Getty</p> A view of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

Getty

A view of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

A 60-year-old Australian man died on Feb. 29 while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, according to authorities and local news reports.

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the agency is providing consular assistance to the victim's family.

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"We send our deepest condolences to the family at this difficult time,” per the statement. “Owing to our privacy obligations we are unable to provide further comment.”

The victim was identified as Jon Clarke, the former head of printing for The Canberra Times who retired in 2021, according to a report from the Australia-based newspaper.

Related: 2 Americans, 1 Norwegian Dead in Separate Incidents While Climbing Highest Mountain in the Americas

Clarke was on the seventh day of his climb, when he experienced altitude sickness, Sky News reported. He was 100 meters (328 feet) away from the top.

According to one of his sons, Alexander, via 7NEWS Australia, Clarke, who was with his best friend during the ascent, had difficulty breathing. They turned around and started to descend but Clarke collapsed. Attempts to resuscitate him through CPR failed.

Alexander also told 7NEWS that his father had been long preparing for the adventure and that his family did not know that he died until March 2.

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Clarke reportedly said, “Just get me to the top,” before he had to go down from the mountain.

“(He) had been training for over six months in preparation for this climb,” Alexander said of his father, adding, “Overall, he had gone above and beyond being prepared and, if anything, was overprepared and trained to climb the mountain.”

Clarke’s other son Lewis said that he hoped his father enjoyed the climb. “He trained very hard for the walk,” he told The Canberra Times, “and I think he was excited to show us pictures when he got back.”

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Clarke had long worked in the newspaper business, including as a press operator at The Canberra Times beginning in 1993, through his retirement two years ago, said the newspaper. His father Barry was an editor at The Cootamundra Herald from 1965 to 1997.

Clarke had been married to his wife Jenene for 31 years, added The Canberra Times.

Son Alexander told 7NEWS that Clarke was “the greatest dad in the world,” adding, “He was a people-person who made and had connections everywhere in Canberra. Anywhere we went, our father would see someone who knew or worked with and they would always comment to me about what a great man he was.”

According to the National Geographic Society, Kilimanjaro is Africa’s tallest mountain with a peak at 19,340 feet. Per Kilimanjaro National Park, about 30,000 people climb the mountain each year, with the number of fatalities ranging between 3 and 10 people annually.

PEOPLE reached out to Jenene Clarke for comment.

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