A 55-year-old U.S. man who died after reaching the summit of the tallest mountain in the world is being remembered by his friends and family as a great adventurer who lived life to the fullest.
According to the Himalayan Times, Donald Cash died while making his way down the mountain on Wednesday, minutes after reaching the top of Mount Everest.
Cash’s feat culminated in a quest to reach the top of the seven tallest mountains on all seven continents, making him a member of the elite “Seven Summits Club” that has only around 500 members worldwide.
“He taught us that nothing was impossible,” said his daughter Brandalin Cash, noting that her father’s determination had cost him several fingers from frostbite in a recent ascent.
Cash gave up a career as a software executive to devote his life to pursuing the Seven Summits Club, a quest that cost him his life.
Cash fainted at the very top of the world between China and Nepal, at 8,848 meters, while waiting to descend, and was momentarily revived, but died minutes later from heart failure, his family told the media Thursday.
“After that he woke up, then near Hillary Step he fell down again in the same manner, which means he got high altitude sickness,” said Pasang Tenje Sherpa, head of Pioneer Adventure, which provided the guides.
Cash died 58 meters from the summit while waiting for other climbers to ascend past the famous Hillary Step, a single-file, narrow passage on a spine near the top, named after Everest’s first Western climber, New Zealand’s Sir Edmund Hillary.
In just the past eight days, eight hikers have died while climbing Everest, taking advantage of a spell of clear spring weather, and 120 made the trip to the top on Wednesday, authorities said.
From 2000 to 2010, the mountain claimed an average of seven lives per year, but that number has shot up dramatically in the past few years, climbers say.
In 2016, a staggering 46 people died on Everest, and Nepalese climbing authorities fear that 2019 may see many more lives lost atop the planet’s tallest point.