Utah climber, 4 others die on Mount Everest

Photo: AFP

An American climber who fulfilled his dream of climbing the highest mountains on each of the seven continents died of probable altitude sickness on the way down from Mount Everest, mountaineering officials said.

Don Cash became ill at the summit and was treated there by his two Sherpa guides, Pasang Tenje Sherpa, head of Pioneer Adventure, which provided the guides, said Friday.

“When he was on the top he just fell. The two Sherpas who were with him gave CPR and massages,” he said. “After that he woke up, then near Hillary Step he fell down again in the same manner, which means he got high altitude sickness.”

Altitude sickness is caused by low amounts of oxygen at high elevation and can cause headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and mental confusion.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported Friday that two more Indian climbers died on Mount Everest together with an Austrian while descending from the summit this week.

Also, the U.K.-based climbing company 360 Expeditions said that an Irish climber died Friday while attempting to climb Everest.

They were part of hundreds of foreigners and their Sherpa guides attempting to scale Everest and other Himalayan peaks during the popular spring climbing season, when only a few windows of good weather each May allow them the best chance of success.

Cash, 55, from Utah, had a long-held dream to climb the seven summits — the highest mountains on the seven continents — his daughter Danielle Cook posted on Facebook on Wednesday.

Santa Bir Lama, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, said Cash’s body was still near Hillary Step.

“Many others who are at the summit are still there. When the Sherpas come down, then they can bring his body down,” he said.

Pasang Tenje Sherpa said Cash’s brother had sent him a message thanking the Sherpa guides, Norbo and Tenzin, for their help.

“Please tell Norbo and Tenzin our family’s deep appreciation for their heroic effort to save Don,” he quoted the message as saying. “Give them our love and prayers, and we are glad they are safe.”

Before he headed for the summit, Cash texted his son Tanner that he felt “so blessed to be on the mountain that I read about for the last 40 years.”

Cash said on his LinkedIn page that he left his job as a sales executive to try to join the seven summits club. In January, he wrote, he climbed Mount Vinson Masif, Antarctica’s tallest peak.

Cash is survived by his wife Monette and their four children, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

American climber dies on Everest

An American has died on Everest, his expedition organiser said Thursday, as a rush of climbers marked one of the busiest days on the world's highest mountain.

Donald Lynn Cash, 55, collapsed at the summit of the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) peak on Wednesday as he was taking photographs.

"Our two Sherpas helped him gain consciousness but he died close to the Hilary Step as they were bringing him back," Pasang Tenje Sherpa of Pioneer Adventure told AFP.

His death came as more than 200 climbers were heading towards the summit on both sides of Everest Wednesday as the weather cleared, with complaints of a traffic jam close to the top.

"We don't have the exact number of summits yet, but it has been a very busy day. Teams have complained of having to wait two or more hours to reach the top," said Gyanendra Shrestha, a government liaison officer stationed at base camp.

It is the third fatality on Everest this season, after an Indian climber died last week and an Irish mountaineer is presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit.

Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953.

The Himalayan nation has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 each for this year's spring climbing season, sparking fears of bottlenecks en route to the summit if poor weather cuts down the number of climbing days.

Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 750 climbers will tread the same path to the top in the coming weeks.

And at least 140 others have been granted permits to scale Everest from the northern flank in Tibet, according to expedition operators. This could take the total past last year's record of 807 people reaching the summit.

Many Himalayan mountains - including Everest - are at peak climbing season, with the window of good weather between late April and the end of May.

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