American Climbs Everest, Dies in Return 'Traffic Jam'

Don Cash of Utah achieved his goal of 7 summits
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 7:19 AM CDT
He Got His 7th Summit, Won't Be Coming Home
In this 2013 photo, climbers navigate the knife-edge ridge just below the Hillary Step on their way to the summit of Mount Everest.   (AP Photo/Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger)

A 55-year-old American reached the summit of Everest Wednesday, fulfilling a goal of conquering the highest summit on each continent. However, Don Cash of Sandy, Utah, died on the descent despite guides' efforts to revive him. The details:

  • Bottleneck: Cash went up the mountain with an expedition from Nepal's Pioneer Adventure and started having trouble at the summit after a 12-hour climb. He collapsed there, but guides were able to revive him with CPR, reports Gripped. Cash again lost consciousness on the way down. Then came the wait at Hillary Step.
  • Long delay: Cash and his sherpa guides made it to the famous rock feature below the summit known as the Hillary Step, where Outside Online reports they encountered a "summit traffic jam"; because of the good weather, more than 200 climbers decided to summit that day. Sherpas offered Cash their oxygen, reports the Himalayan Times, but he died during the two-hour bottleneck. The cause of death is not known.

  • The goal: Cash had worked as VP for worldwide inside sales for BMC Software, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, though in January he announced a big move on his LinkedIn page: "I am truly blessed to be able to take the next 5 months off on a sabbatical to finish the last 2 remaining mountains on my Seven Summits Club dream," he wrote. "I'm excited to look for the next chapter of my career in June when I return. Safely. With all my digits."
  • Remaining two: Cash climbed Mt. Vinson-Masiff in Antarctica in January, followed by this month's Everest expedition. He is the third climber to die on Everest this season.
  • Family: Cash described himself online as a "a kick ass sales executive, husband, father and grandpa," and the Tribune reports that he had four grown children with his wife, Monette. The Deseret News was collecting online tributes, and the phrase "larger than life" showed up more than once in friends' remembrances.
  • Fitting coda: Blogger Alan Arnette ends his account of Cash's death thusly: "His body is said not recoverable and friends add 'his final resting place will probably [be] exactly where he wanted.'"
(More Mount Everest stories.)

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