Who Is Don Cash? New Details On The Utah Mountain Climber Who Died Climbing Mount Everest

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Who Is Don Cash? New Details On The Utah Mountain Climber Who Died Climbing Mount Everest

For as long as mankind has existed we have sought out what is believed to be impossible and confronted it head-on. It is part of human nature, to seek out that which is thought impossible and to prove that with hard work and ingenuity, anything is possible. It's this part of human nature that can lead to stories of triumph, but it can also lead to heartrending tragedies. 

When Donald Cash set out to climb Mount Everest it was a part of a lifelong goal and he couldn't wait to get started. What he didn't know was that the conditions on the mountain weren't in his favor. Here's what we know about Don's last climb, and how Everest claimed its most recent victim. 


1. Donald Lynn Cash's Goal 

According to his social media and those who knew him, Don was an American adventurer and career man taking an extended sabbatical to climb the seven summits. In fact, he was even a member of the so-called "seven summits" club! For those not hip to the jive of the mountain-climbing lifestyle, the seven summits refer to the world's seven highest elevations, they include mountains like Kilimanjaro, Denali, and Mount Blanc. 

Everest was one of the final climbs on his list. From the mountain's base camps he contacted both his wife and his son to share how excited he was to be making this epic journey. Although he was accompanied by a team of other climbers and a guide, the climb is notoriously deadly. Tragically, before he saw the summit, he became the 12th person to die climbing Mount Everest this year. 

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2. How He Died 

According to his family, Don Cash, a businessman, died of what they suspect is a cardiac event while he was reaching the final part of his climb to the top of the mountain. He technically made it to the summit before crashing to the ground in a face-first faint. According to those present, he was able to be temporarily revived with oxygen and made it as far as the famous landmark, "Hillary's Step" before closing his eyes for the last time.

Don's particular climb was made up of a 15-member expedition led by Chinese climber Yuan Li. While no official cause of death has been announced, the team agrees with Cash's family regarding their speculation of a cardiac event. Like others who died making the climb, Don's body will stay behind on the mountain. 

3. His Family Responds 

Obviously, like any family losing someone they hold dear, the Cashes are mourning. But they also take comfort in the fact that Don died doing something that meant so much to him. “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,'" said his son Tanner, and he's not the only person who knew Don who feels like that. 

His daughter also spoke about her father's last days, and regret doesn't seem to be in her vocabulary either. “One of the last messages my mom got was thank you for supporting me in my dreams. 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," said Brandalin Cash. 

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4. Dangers Of Everest 

As you can probably imagine, climbing to the very top of Mount Everest isn't exactly an easy feat. The fact that Don was the 12th person to die this year alone attempting to do so should speak to that fact. But what is it about Everest that makes it so darn dangerous? It's actually the most obvious thing about the mountain that does it. 

You see, Mount Everest has the highest elevation at any altitude of any other peak on Earth. In order to reach the summit, climbers have to acclimate very slowly to the decrease in oxygen or else face altitude sickness, which can lead to a build-up of fluid in the brain, heart, and lungs. Frankly, the extreme weather conditions of Everest don't always make it likely for a person to climb at the slowed down pace required to prevent serious injury. 

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5. The Traffic 

There is another factor that may have contributed to the death of Don, one that you wouldn't exactly expect to be a problem when climbing Everest. According to the Washington Post, the actual foot traffic of Everest this year was so heavy that it made for extended wait times for climbing parties. This delay may have hindered Don's chances of survival. 

Currently, it is not known how the traffic on the mountain hurt Don and his team if it did at all. What is known is that more than 200 permits for the climb were issued for the month of May. Also known is that Don's death came after a 12-hour final push to summit the mountain, likely in the hopes of making the last leg of the journey easier to access for the remaining climbers. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr