Update, April 27: David Breashears has descended from Mount Everest’s Camp 1 via helicopter and was reunited with his expedition team at base camp, according to posts on his Facebook page from GlacierWorks CFO Ellen Golbranson. The safety of Quartz journalist Svati Narula also has been confirmed, via her family; she is still at base camp.
David Breashears, the American mountaineer and filmmaker who has summited Mount Everest five times and recently returned for another expedition, is alive and currently safe at Camp 1, according to a colleague who spoke with him following a deadly avalanche on the mountain. The slide was triggered by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal around noon local time, and has killed more than 1,000 people.
Breashears was filming on Everest in May 1996 when a sudden blizzard killed eight climbers. (The disaster was recounted in the John Krakauer best-seller Into Thin Air.) Breashears finished the film, and Everest—the first IMAX movie shot on the mountain—premiered in 1998.
Breashears is back on Everest for a project with GlacierWorks, the climate-change awareness organization he founded. The nonprofit documents changes to Himalayan glacial formations in difficult-to-access areas. Breashears talked about GlacierWorks’ goals in this 2013 Q&A with the Nepali Times.
GlacierWorks CFO Ellen Golbranson, who is based in Boston, tells Quartz she spoke with Breashears by satellite phone following the avalanche, which killed at least eight people, according to Nepal tourism officials. The Guardian reports that 13 people were killed on the mountain and that the death toll is expected to rise. Among the climbers confirmed dead: Google executive Daniel Fredinburg. The three co-workers he was with are safe, according to a message to employees from Google privacy director Lawrence You.
Golbranson says Breashears had returned to Nepal on March 19 and worked with the “Icefall doctors,” an elite group of sherpas, to help set a new route for the climbing season prior to the start of his current expedition. The route was reset in the wake of an April 2014 avalanche that killed 16 sherpa guides, making it the mountain’s deadliest avalanche ever.
Camp 1, where Breashears was located when he contacted Golbranson, is at roughly 19,600 ft. (Everest’s summit is at an elevation of 29,035 ft.) Breashears still faces the task of getting back down to base camp at 17,600 ft. via an already-tricky route that is likely even more challenging following the avalanche.
A reporter for Quartz, Svati Narula, has been on leave working with Breashears and GlacierWorks at Everest base camp. Breashears has communicated via his US team that Narula is safe. Her family in the US spoke with her over the weekend and confirms her safety.