Kobold mourns the passing of its brand ambassador David F. Breashears, the legendary mountaineer-turned-filmmaker who directed the 1996 IMAX film "Everest".

After his film became an international sensation, David turned his keen sense of narrative and attention to detail toward the topic of climate change. Working together with ICIMOD, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, David masterfully documented the receding glaciers in the Himalayas.

“When I take people by helicopter up into the Himalayas and I show them photographs that were taken 100, 80 or even 50 years ago, they are always awed at how fast the glaciers have been disappearing in our lifetime. It’s a dramatic change to how things used to be up there,” David told Kobold founder Michael Kobold in 2013. 

With the onset climate change, Nepal is also experiencing unusual weather patterns and natural disasters. In 2019, the country experienced its first documented tornadoes, which killed 28 people and injured hundreds more. Farmers across the country have been reporting reduced harvests due to changing water levels.

Yet of all the natural disasters Nepal is prone to experiencing, none loom as large as earthquakes. Nepal is located in one of the most seismically active regions on the planet. Over the course of its history, the country has been hit by a major earthquake every 80-100 years. David agreed to join the Nepal Fire Truck Expedition, which had as its secondary mission the creation of more awareness about Nepal's exposure to the dangers of earthquakes. 
David Breashears and Michael Kobold at the launch of Kobold's book Nepal Needs Fire Trucks. Kathmandu, 2017. (Credit: Prasant Shrestha)

David first climbed to the summit of Mount Everest in 1983. In total, he led five successful expeditions on Mount Everest and became the first American to summit Mount Everest twice.

During his 1996 expedition to Mount Everest, David and his team were the first to place an IMAX camera near the top of the mountain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekk_6Vgfxrw). The film footage David and his team captured with their 45-pound IMAX camera was the highest resolution footage of Mount Everest at the time. 

That year, a powerful blizzard caused the deaths of eight climbers. David and his teammates rushed to rescue several stricken mountaineers. In 1997, David produced a documentary film about the Everest disaster for PBS television (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So3vH9FY2H4), further cementing his reputation as a world-class cinematographer.

In 2014, David Breashears acted as an advisor on the Hollywood feature film "Everest." Starring Josh Brolin, Keira Knightly and Jake Gyllenhaal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79Q2rrQlPW4), "Everest" became the highest-grossing IMAX film all of time.
In 2013, David Breashears became a Kobold brand ambassador following the opening of the Kobold flagship boutique in Kathmandu, Nepal. Then, in 2015, David Breashears agreed to join the Nepal Fire Truck Expedition and appear on camera as one of several celebrity team members, including fellow mountaineers Reinhold Messner and Russell Brice, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Hollywood actor Malcolm McDowell, and guitarst Nuno Bettencourt among others (https://koboldwatch.com/products/nepal-fire-truck-expedition-timekeeper).

As part of this role, David was the moderator at the launch of Michael Kobold's book Nepal Needs Fire Trucks in 2017. Whenever David visited Kathmandu, he'd stop by the Kobold boutique and regale unsuspecting customers with stories of his exploits.
Michael Kobold, David Breashears, and mountaineer Dawa Steven Sherpa at the home of Lisa Choegyal in Kathmandu, Nepal. (Credit: Lisa Choegyal)

On learning of his sudden passing, Kobold founder Michael Kobold wrote: "David was far more than a living legend and mountaineer-turned-filmmaker. He was loyal and dedicated friend whose optimism and gentleness belied a gritty dedication to achieving his goals.

I will always remember David for his relentless pursuit of creating awareness about the effects of climate change on the Himalayas, where most glaciers have receded almost completely in the last five decades.
Personally, David was a most helpful source of inspiration during the darkest, most challenging years in Nepal, when one calamity after another befell the planning stage of the Nepal Fire Truck Expedition. It would take only an hour or two (or three!) over lunch and coffee with David, followed by gentle embrace and a strong pat on the back and you'd be good for another million miles. Rest in Peace, old friend!"