COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — There have been a surge of deaths this season for climbers attempting to summit the world’s highest peak — nearly double last year. One of those deaths was a Utah man. Pictures and video of the treacherous conditions being shared online shed light into how dangerous it really is.
A Cottonwood Heights climber who just returned from the summit shared his experience with KSL TV.
“I’m a mountain guide and I take people climbing all over the world,” said Todd Passey.
Passey just got back to Utah a few days ago after summiting Mount Everest on the 29th of May. It marked his second time on top of the world.
He still is recuperating from the physical and mental toll the climb takes and he is getting in some much needed time with his family who stayed behind.
“There were definitely some windy times up there,” Passey said as he played with his young son.
Passey said this year was different.
“It just kind of bottlenecked when everyone went to the same place at the same time,” he said.
Bad weather combined with an already limited window to summit, leading to the now-viral photo of the line to the top. Passey said his group planned for those obstacles and left the highest camp at 9 p.m. to avoid most of the traffic jam.
“Right when we summited is when it all cleared out,” he said.
Perspective can change along the path to 29,000 feet.
“You couldn’t help but see him,” he said sadly.
Passey was on the mountain when fellow Utahn, Don Cash died.
“Yes, it was really tough to see,” Passey said. “You can’t help and look and realize that’s a person that was trying to climb the day before — a person with a family.”
Cash died on the way down from the summit on the May 22 after finally reaching his lifelong goal.
Passey knows climbing will always be in his life, but he doesn’t know if he will ever attempt Everest again — only time will tell.
“I don’t know, maybe,” Passey said. “I don’t have any plans to do it again, but if the opportunity arises with the right people then I would."