Everest 2019: American Dead on Everest- Update

With huge crowds on Everest an accident occurred while descending between the summit and the Hillary Step, according to friends of the deceased.

I was told by friends of the family that American Don Cash, 55 from Utah, apparently fell to his death on Wednesday May 22. He had two climbing Sherpas with him and was using Pioneer Adventures, a Nepali owned guide company out of Kathmandu

This is the third death on Everest this season. Indian, Ravi Thakar, died after summiting while at the South Col and Irish climber,  Seamus Sean Lawless, disappeared and is presumed dead from a fall between the Balcony and South Col near 8300-meters after his summit. A search team left today to try and recover his body. Overall there have been 12 deaths across the 8000-meters mountains just this spring climbing period.

Update: more information is becoming available. It’s now reported that Don summited after an extremely long push, over 12 hours, and became unconscious on the descent. The sherpas performed CPR and were able to revive him. They then moved him to the Hillary Step where he was caught in a traffic jam for 2-3 hours. It was here that he passed out again and took his last breaths. His body is said not recoverable and friends add “his final resting place will probably exactly where he wanted.”

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Memories are Everything!

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12 thoughts on “Everest 2019: American Dead on Everest- Update

    1. As I understand, he specifically said if he died, he wanted to left on the mountain. And yes, at the Hillary Step, it would be dangerous, risky and costly. Almsot all bodies are left where they fall from the South Summit higher.

  1. Look at Jon Krakauer’s instagram page today – the traffic between the South Summit and actual summit is insane. Conrad Anker still has to be diplomatic because of North Face but he is calling it out for being a total shitshow.

    The step is gone – I summitted last year and am in the pictures used by Alan and Outside magazine.
    Casey Grom took the pictures. The traffic last year was bad but not remotely as bad as it apparently was this year.

    The cornice traverse is slow because its narrow and the sharp relief scares people. My guess is that was the bigger culprit than the remnants of the Hilary Step.

    -A 12 hour summit day is not unreasonable at all. People are leaving earlier. I left C4 with CTSS at 10:15pm last year. We got out of our tents at 9:30pm to get ready and everyone had already left C4 around 6:30pm. I heard people left between 5pm-7pm this year. We caught everyone before the balcony. The pace was atrocious. We didn’t rest at the balcony and managed to pass 20-25 people by not resting there. It slowed down significantly at the South Summit, but I would estimate the traffic was 1/3rd of what it was this year. We summitted in 10 hours, it probably would have been closer to 7.5-8 if it weren’t for traffic. We got back down to C4 around 12:30pm. 14 hours roundtrip from C4. My guess is that people were closer to 18-20 hours roundtrip this year.
    -Two guide services are notoriously bad for having huge, unqualified teams. I’m not going to name them here but Alan knows who they are as do most others who have been over there. They are primary culprits for slow climbers. They have unqualified clients that clog up the lines.

    There has been no commentary on the regulators this year that were an absolute mess last year.
    Several people are on 5L/min leaving C3 and stay on a high flow rate the whole time, if they run low high up and have to go down 2L/min they struggle. If they are off the oxygen completely they shut down. If the guide services really wanted to fix the issue there would be agreed upon standards for:

    -Times through the icefall. I believe Russell Brice used an 8 hour cutoff.
    -Times from C1 to C2 – it shouldn’t take more then 4.5 hours and can be easily done in 2.5 hours.
    -Keeping people on more normalized flow rates from C3-C4 (ie 2-3L/min) so they have ability do deal with rationing oxygen in the event of a traffic jam.

    This would cut down on the number of climbers that get to the Cornice traverse and improved the overall quality of climbers on summit day. It also wouldn’t restrict the number of permits/clients and the money machine for locals and guides. It would just limit the number of summits.

  2. Every time, I read news that ” climbers die on everest”, I am sad and wonder have any of them ever though of their families members. And why they go to Everest to die. Climbing the world highest mountain and die there has no meaning at all. They will leave behind a heart aches for their love one to endure. To achieve a moment of fame and broken so many heart at the end , it is not worthy at all.

  3. Just a comment – no factual backup – he had a very long summit day on Denali and ended up losing some fingers due to frostbite. Then on Vincent earlier this year it looks like he essentially kissed his nose goodbye. The reports on Everest say he had an unusually long summit day as well. I think he maybe pushed himself past his limits a bit regularly and this time he could not recover. My condolences to his family and friends

  4. Alan,
    if you would find the time, could you please leave a few words concerning the Hillary Step ?
    Within the last season there had been some statements, that the step had been vanished. So subsequently i expected the “traffic-jam-issue” at this hotspot to disappear as well.
    Am i wrong ?


    (frequent reader since 3 years)

      1. Thanks a lot Alan !
        Strangely i missed that article but i will catch up on it right now.
        Also i just have read Clint Kuglers statement above, which brought a pretty good explanation about the traffic issues.

  5. Alan I work at Fox 13 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have a lot of mountaineers here, and since Don is from here, I would like to try and get connected with your friends that told you about this. Could you or your friends reach out to me at 801-330-3798

  6. Alan – this also makes me grateful that you returned from all your climbs safely.

  7. So sad. These crowds killing people has to be stopped somehow.
    12 hours to get to the summit and then trapped while dying?
    It’s sad but I’m also furious about the whole mess here.

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