To summit the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, and officially become a part of the "7 Summits Club."
Don had already been to six other continents to summit the highest mountain in every corner of the world, and Everest was the crown jewel that would make his accomplishment complete.
As I write of Don's achievement, I find myself both sad and inspired, for Mount Everest took his life after he achieved his dream. While descending down the Hillary Step, altitude sickness and lack of oxygen ended his life, despite the efforts of his Sherpa guides to revive him.
When I look up pictures of Don, I see a man who lived large and beamed. Google his name and you will see countless moments captured during his mountaineering adventures, and you will instantly be drawn to his zest for life.
On his quest to join the "7 Summits Club," he faced treacherous conditions and loss of fingers & toes from frostbite in previous climbs. While the average person wouldn't even think to face such conditions. The adventure of it all fueled him.
So much that in December 2018, he quit his sales executive job, so he could put 100% of his energy into ascending Everest.
He was a man with such a level of connection to his truth that his path was clear. With the full backing of a loving family, Don pursued what made him feel alive.
And while Everest claimed his life, I find comfort knowing that he died doing something he loved so deeply.
He didn't die in a hospital bed. He didn't die watching life go by. He stepped fully into it, no matter the risk, because he wasn't someone who held himself back.
And because he took risks, he was free.
He stepped into his wander and found more of himself on every ascent.
Let his story be one of inspiration for you...
If you could die happy, what would you be doing? Are you making the time for that thing you love so much?
We all have our own story of wander to live into. For me, I know that if my life could end on a trail, then I would be happy.
Share this with a friend who would find Don's story inspiring...
While I don't know Don personally, I'm humbled to read the stories and accounts from his children since their father's passing. They speak of him as a man full of life, who's two greatest loves were his family and the mountains.
A self-proclaimed "kick ass inside sales executive" and "Chief Executive Mountaineer of the 7 Summits Club," Don was a former sales executive by day and an incredible family man to his wife, children, and grandchildren.
In the end, the mountains called him home, to the highest place on Earth that made his heart sing. He passed at the age of 55.
Don was surrounded by an incredible crew of fellow climbers and Sherpas on this summit up Everest. Because of the amazing dedication Sherpas have to mountaineers, I am dedicating this post to the Sherpa Foundation, which provides humanitarian aid to Himalayan communities and support for the Sherpa culture.
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