Everest climber, filmmaker, climate activist David Breashears dies at 68

Mount Everest, as seen from an aircraft over Nepal, was conquered five times by famed climber and climate activist David Breashears, who died this week at age 68. File Photo by Narendra Shrestha/EPA-EFE

March 16 (UPI) -- David Breashears, pioneering mountaineer, filmmaker and climate activist, has died in his Massachusetts home, his family announced. He was 68.

Family members confirmed to Outside Magazine on Friday that Breashears had died, and his passing was also noted by fellow climbers Ed Viesturs, Kathy Harvard and Jed Williamson.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we share the news of David Breashears' untimely passing," his family said in a statement issued to WCVB-TV. "David was a beloved brother, uncle, father, friend and colleague and a caring, impassioned advocate of adventure, exploration, and the health of our planet."

Breashears climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest five times in his life and transmitted the first live television images from the summit in 1983.

Footage of his expedition in 1996 was made into the feature film Everest, which generated more than $120 million in revenue and gained him celebrity status among outdoors enthusiasts.

During the shoot, Breashears witnessed the deadly blizzard that killed eight climbers and helped with the rescue and recovery of climbers after the incident.

That experience led to the 2008 Frontline documentary Storm Over Everest, which included interviews with survivors and original footage from the 1996 expedition.

In his later life, Breashears turned his focus to the impact of climate change on the Himalayas. He founded the advocacy group GlacierWorks and documented the glacial melt across the region through video and photography.

He also gave lectures around the world to educate people about the impact of climate change.

"It's a very easy thing to do, awareness. You can go find two pictures on a website and say that you're creating awareness, while the real hard work is taking people from awareness to impact," Breashears told NASA in a 2014 interview. "That's why taking this imagery and moving it to exhibits, or to scientists at NASA, is important."