A 55-year-old Utah man who had just accomplished his quest to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents died Wednesday, collapsing just after he had reached the peak of Mount Everest.
Donald Lynn Cash of Sandy, Utah, was coming down the mountain after a push to the top that lasted more 12 hours, according to the Himalayan Times, when he suffered what his family believes was a heart attack. Guides, who tried to revive Cash with oxygen and CPR, carried him down below the famed Hillary Step, a vertical rock face on the south side of the mountain. He died in the afternoon, Pasang Sherpa, chairman of Pioneer Adventure Pvt. Ltd., told the Times.
It is not clear whether guides were hampered by heavy traffic on Everest as they attempted to bring Cash down the mountain. Around 200 mountaineers, including guides, were attempting to reach the summit on Wednesday, according to the Times. Climbers told the Times on Wednesday that waits of more than two hours were not uncommon as they left Camp IV, the last before the summit.
“There’s a long queue of climbers above Camp IV,” Gyanendra Shrestha, a liaison officer at the Everest base camp, told the publication. “Everyone seems in a hurry to reach the summit point when the weather is clear."
Overall, 41 teams, with 378 climbers, have permits to scale Everest during the spring season, with an equal number of guides.
Cash, who described himself as “a kick-ass sales executive, husband, father and grandpa” on Facebook, was on what he said was a “Seven Summits Sabbatical.” He had reached the penultimate peak on his list, Antarctica’s Vinson Massif, in January.
“I am truly blessed to be able to take the next five months off on a sabbatical to finish the last two remaining mountains on my Seven Summits Club dream,” Cash wrote on LinkedIn, describing himself as “chief executive mountaineer.”
He wrote that he was “excited to look for the next chapter of my career in June when I return. Safely. With all my digits.”
His daughter, Brandalin, told Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate that “he taught us that nothing was impossible” and added that his body will remain on the mountain.
“One of the last messages my mom got was thank you for supporting me in my dreams,” Brandalin Cash said. “He wanted to do this. He wanted to be on that mountain. He wanted to show that he could accomplish dreams and that others can, too.”
Cash and his wife, Monette, a psychologist and yoga therapist, have four adult children, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. He had been a vice president for worldwide indoor sales for BMC Software, according to his LinkedIn page. “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Don Cash’s family during this difficult time,” a BMC spokeswoman told the Tribune.
“The last message he sent to me, he said, ‘I feel so blessed to be on the mountain that I read about for the last 40 years,' ” his son, Tanner, said.
He was praised on his Facebook page for his “passion for life and all that goes with it.” Another poster wrote that Cash was his “idol. Everything he did he did with gusto all while treating the people around him wonderfully. The world needs more [Dons].”
Dave Roskelley, a fellow mountaineer and friend of Cash, told Salt Lake City’s Fox affiliate that he visited with Cash before he left and had offered some advice from his own experience summitting and encountering a traffic jam on Everest in 2013.
“He was a go-getter,” Roskelley said of his friend. “Knowing him, he’s probably happy that’s where his body will be laid to rest.”
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