David Breashears, Mount Everest Documentarian and Mountaineer, Dead at 68

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David Breashears

David Breashears, a mountaineer turned documentary filmmaker, has died. He was 68.

Breashears died at his home on Thursday, March 14, according to a report from Outside magazine. His death was later confirmed by his business manager, Ellen Golbranson, and a statement from his family.

According to Golbranson, who spoke with the Associated Press on Saturday, Breashears was found "unresponsive" in his Marblehead, Massachusetts home late last week. Golbranson also told the outlet that he is suspected to have died of natural causes, but “the exact cause of death remains unknown at this time.”

Over the course of his lifetime, Breashears climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest five times, including with the IMAX camera in 1996, his family said in a statement.

In 1983, Breashears transmitted the first live television images from the peak’s summit. Two years later, he repeated the trip and made history as the first American climber to visit the highest point on the planet for a second time.

A decade later, Breashears and his team were filming the Everest documentary when the May 10, 1996 blizzard struck the mountain and killed eight climbers. He and his team stopped filming to help the climbers–a story later told in his 2007 documentary, Remnants of Everest: The 1996 Tragedy.

Along with Everest (1998) and the many shorts he spun out about the summit, Breashears also worked on the documentary series Nova (1998) and a documentary on an expedition across Africa, Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa (2002), among others.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we share the news of David Breashears’ untimely passing. David was a beloved brother, uncle, father, friend, and colleague and a caring, impassioned advocate of adventure, exploration, and the health of our planet," the family shared with numerous outlets.

"In his lifetime, David climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest five times, including an ascent with the IMAX camera in 1996. He combined his passion for climbing and photography to become one of the world’s most admired adventure filmmakers."

Their written statement continued, "What fulfilled him the most – where he’d want his legacy to lie – is his non-profit organization, GlacierWorks, which he founded in 2007 to highlight the Himalayan glaciers through art, science, and adventure. With GlacierWorks, he used his climbing and photography experience to create unique records revealing the dramatic effects of climate change on the historic mountain range."

"We want to thank everyone for their wonderful messages of support and love for David and understand that we respectfully ask for privacy as we grieve our loss," it concluded.

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