I’ll start answering questions at 2pm (Eastern), in the meantime here is some proof and check out Everest: Rivers of Ice at GlacierWorks.org. All of the images you see on the site I captured in the Himalaya region and I am happy to answer any questions about climbing Everest, the region, the people and my work there.

PROOF: http://imgur.com/9igSsxT




Thank you everyone for your time and questions today, it brought back many fond memories of being on Mt. Everest and the even harder work and greater effort that has gone into bringing back the imagery for GlacierWorks. Please don't forget to visit www.glacierworks.org

Goodbye, for now!

Comments: 107 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

TedWashingtonsBelly17 karma

Hello Mr. Breashears, thanks for doing this. A couple questions:

What is your opinion on the overcrowding on Mt. Everest and what do you think should be done to remedy this problem, if anything?

How much has climate change affected high altitude conditions for climbers in the past decade?

DavidBreashears15 karma

The overcrowding certainly creates many challenges for everyone involved on mountain. This problem needs to be solved by the Western guiding services, the government of Nepal, and the Sherpa climbing community working together to decide what's best for the mountain and for the 100s of climbers who attempt to reach the summit every year.

But for me the more urgent question and the reason I founded GlacierWorks is to bring attention to the impact that climate change is having on the region and the possibility of those impacts to cause social and environmental stress in the future.

RaiderDuck11 karma

Following the 1996 Everest disaster, Jon Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev got into a publicized pissing match which only ended with Boukreev's untimely death. In your opinion, who was right and who was wrong?

DavidBreashears17 karma

The 1996 Everest disaster was a terrible tragedy and many peoples lives were greatly affected by it. It is only normal in life that people observing the exact same event will later on recount it in a different manner, especially life threatening events. This is a known phenomenon none of us is an objective observer. The truth usually lies in the middle of many different opinions.

twistedturns9 karma

What would you say was the biggest difference, in yourself or your abilities, from your 1st climb to the 5th?

DavidBreashears14 karma

In 1983 I had all the energy and exuberance that comes with setting foot on the mountain for the first time. We were the only team on the mountain. In 2004 during my fifth ascent I knew the route quite well and had considerably more high-altitude climbing experience. Experience causes one to worry less, which is a good thing as worry accomplishes nothing but added stress and fatigue.

SSII8 karma

Do you think Mallory and Irvine made it?

DavidBreashears15 karma

I've made a documentary about Mallory and Irvine, and co-written a book about Mallory and Irvine and consulted with many prominent climbers about the route and its challenges. My thinking is there is no chance whatsoever they could have climbed the route with the gear and technical abilities of the era.

PaulPaulPaul7 karma

Do you have any yeti related stories to tell about?

DavidBreashears16 karma

Yes, many but I am not free to talk about it ;-)

qxnt6 karma

I'd really like to hear about your favorite non-Everest climb, or your favorite non-Everest places in the Himalaya region. Could you tell us something about that?

DavidBreashears14 karma

I will never forget my first expedition to the Himalaya. Our team made the second ascent of Ama Dablam (22,490 ft). I was 23 years old and it changed my life and my career. Many consider it the most beautiful mountain in the Himalaya. I also greatly enjoyed a trek to Kangchenjunga the world's third highest mountain.

DavidBreashears11 karma

You can see Ama Dablam in this panorama, zoom in for a better view. http://explore.glacierworks.org/#trek/thyangboche

fearthisbeard6 karma

What type of training is involved in preparing for a climb up Everest?

DavidBreashears30 karma

Generally several months of smoking and drinking heavily to stress my body for the rigors of climbing on Everest.

DavidBreashears15 karma

Actually, I take training very seriously and spend two months leading up to an expedition doing both cardiovascular and strength training. I pay particular attention to developing a strong heart as the climb places tremendous workload on your heart. I use a heartrate monitor to achieve the best results. But, far more important than training is spending time on other mountains to develop the skills and experience to become self-reliant and independent while on Everest. This not only brings greater satisfaction to the experience but increases your safety margin considerably.

BaronVonMunch6 karma

Thanks for doing this David. Your book High Exposure was my first climbing read and it really got my attention even though I had zero climbing ambitions prior.

Since then I've seen many of your videos/films and read some from some other climbers as well.

2 Questions:

  1. Did you enjoy working with Ed Viesturs as much as other climbers? It seems to me that you both have very high standards for yourselves, your climbers, safety, and the rules of mountaineering.

  2. Are you able to write and think about filming opportunities in the thin air of high peaks or do you accomplish most of your mental work at lower elevations?

P.S. Loved the story about how you went back to try to repair the mountain after breaking a hand hold off early in your climbing career. :) Mountain hugger...

DavidBreashears5 karma

Thank you for your kind comments about my biography.

  1. There is no better friend or person I trust more climbing with in the mountains then Ed Viesturs. We share the same ethics and rules of the mountain.

  2. I don't recall... Seriously, after 34 years of filming and photography in the world's highest mountains I've gained an ability to focus and think clearly in thin air. But we always approach the mountains and filmmaking with a very carefully thought out plan developed at lower elevations, but we consider it vital to adapt your plan to the changing conditions on the mountain and your teammates.

BaronVonMunch2 karma

There is no better friend or person I trust more climbing with in the mountains then Ed Viesturs. We share the same ethics and rules of the mountain.

I was hoping you would say that. How could anyone be surprised really. You both came from humble beginnings, worked hard, worked some more, and hustled your way to the top. And since you made wise decisions on the mountain, you are alive today to be an example to others. So thanks for that.

I obviously have a ton of respect for both you and Ed, but you get extra credit for being a great film maker and photographer.

You've always been very polite and cordial in your writings but I sort of hope you are planning a final memoir to be released on your death to deal with some of the darker aspects of the politics, pride, and greed in climbing that you have undoubtedly seen over the years. I know other writers mention it from time to time, but coming from a veteran like you, I feel it might carry more weight.

Thanks again.

DavidBreashears2 karma

First of all lets hope this book isn't released too soon. My experience in the mountains have been mostly positive but just as part of life one has moments that don't go well or companions that one doesn't get along with. You are very insightful to recognize this as the events that happen high on mountains are often no different then many of the things that happen in our lives at sea-level. Thank you!

QuigsTottalyRocks5 karma

Didn't you get bored by the second time?

DavidBreashears14 karma

Never bored on Everest! Always there to make a film, including shooting the first IMAX film on the summit in 1996. Each expedition was with different members, which changes the experience and makes it so memorable.

TedWashingtonsBelly5 karma

I read that you live in Massachusetts. Do you do any recreational climbing up in the White Mountains?

DavidBreashears6 karma

I enjoy ice climbing in the winter in Franconia Notch and elsewhere and in the summer rock climbing on Cannon Cliff.

badbrains7874 karma

Do you personally believe most of the glacier melt you're trying to document and raise awareness about is anthropogenic? And ideally, what would you like your efforts at GlacierWorks to lead to, in terms of public or governmental response?

DavidBreashears10 karma

It is not my place to believe or not believe in the causes of glacial melt. At GlacierWorks we reference the very best peer-reviewed science which points conclusively toward an increase in glacial melt due to anthropogenic causes. We want to use our imagery to incite curiosity, start conversations and get the public and policy makers to ask important questions about the future impacts on the region from glacial melt and other pressures on the high-elevation Himalayan ecosystem.

LieutenantKumar4 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this. I want to ask you, was there anytime during one of your climbs where you felt like your life was in more danger than normal for Everest? How did you come into that situation and get out of it?

DavidBreashears13 karma

I was climbing on the North side of Everest during the monsoon season in 1995, which is the heavy snow period. Our small team was approaching the North Col at almost 23,000 ft when a huge slab avalanche broke off and began dragging us to our deaths over a 1,500 ft precipice. Thankfully the thin, old fixed rope we were clipped into held tight although stretched thin and taut. One by one the four of us were pulled out of the avalanche and floated to the surface like a cork on the ocean miraculously kept safe by that old piece of rope. We returned home after that, the mountain wasn't safe.

gladizh4 karma

How would you describe reaching the summit?

DavidBreashears11 karma

Elation. Relief. Now, to get down safely.

gladizh4 karma

Which is the most dangerous? Down or up?

DavidBreashears10 karma

Getting down is almost always more dangerous as many climbers, especially those with little experience tend to expend most of their energy on reaching the summit.

waitfirst3 karma

What's your view on Nepal?

DavidBreashears5 karma

My favorite country in the world, inhabited by my favorite people in the world.

s002lnr3 karma

What would be the most responsible way to visit Mt. Everest? I would like to at least make it to base camp one day.

DavidBreashears11 karma

The best approach is to do your research and hire a good guide service and to be responsible about the packaged goods and bottled water you buy along the way. I encourage you to make the trip to base camp, it is a wonderful and rewarding experience. In my years at Everest I've seen everyone from an 8-year-old boy to an 81-year-old woman reach base camp and witnessed first-hand the joy and reward they felt in getting there.

oooded3 karma

How long does one actually stand on the summit? can you really enjoy it or is it more the beginning of the way down?

DavidBreashears6 karma

It depends on the weather and the task at hand. In 1983 for the live broadcast we spent over 45 minutes on the summit working with cumbersome video gear that would seem like an antique today. One tends to be exhausted, dehydrated, sleep deprived and slightly hypoxic on the summit. One can enjoy all the beauty and majesty of Everest and the Everest region much more comfortably simply by going to the website we launched today. But there is nothing like seeing those mountains up close and on foot.

seeksaltcreek3 karma

Were you ever nervous about that airstrip near base camp?

DavidBreashears3 karma

I'm not nervous about that airstrip having first landed there when it was dirt and potholed with cows having to be run off when the alarm sounded that a plane was approaching. It's aircraft maintenance, pilot's judgment and shifting winds and clouds that cause me concern. The approach to the Lukla airstrip at 9,400 ft is a one-way affair you either make it or you don't, there is no turnaround for another approach. Personally, I am always excited about the flight and for being back in the Everest region.

You can see the landing here: http://explore.glacierworks.org/#trek/lukla

Be sure to zoom in!

mf2123 karma


DavidBreashears8 karma

I spent years becoming an experienced mountaineer. Climbing was the focus of my life. When I was 10 years old I saw a picture of Tenzing Norgay on the summit of Everest taken by Sir Edmund Hillary during the first ascent, which was 60 years ago today, from that moment on I wanted to stand on Everest's summit.

hashsview3 karma

Hello, Did you try to plan your AMA today because it is the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest? Edit:grammar

DavidBreashears7 karma

Yes, Sir Edmund Hillary was a good friend of mine and a mentor. One of the reasons I founded GlacierWorks was because of the influence he had on my life through his efforts to uplift the Sherpas life through the construction of schools, airstrips, clinics, and reforestation projects. He would always want to comment first on that good work and last on his climb of Everest.

oootheyan3 karma

Do you plan to publish a DVD version of this interactive application, specially targeting countries where Internet penetration and Speed is still very low?

DavidBreashears6 karma

Our plan working with Internet Explorer is to offer a low-bandwidth version of the website in the future and we hope to release the website in several different languages as well.

Your question is an important one. All interactive websites require reliable internet connections and we hope to release a DVD for the exact reasons you mentioned. Education and awareness are the highest priorities for GlacierWorks.

drivers2052 karma

Have you accomplished any other amazing conquests? How time has it taken you to create the interactive site? Have you lost anyone on any of your ventures?

DavidBreashears5 karma

It has taken us 6 years and 15 expeditions to capture all the imagery that GlacierWorks has to date. But only a fraction of that imagery is available on today’s release as we intend to roll out many more stories and images from the Greater Himalayan region in the future.

About the interactive site: we worked in development with Microsoft for about six months and worked directly with the Internet Explorer team in preparing the site for the past three months.

Our goal and mission with the website is primarily for education and awareness about the impact of climate change in the Himalayan region. There will be much more to come.

ChillFratBro2 karma

Thanks for doing this, I'm a big fan.

Two related questions: What do you think is the hardest thing about climbing to convey to an audience of non-climbers who would watch your films, and what do you wish journalists who don't climb would do in their articles to more accurately represent climbing?

DavidBreashears3 karma

The hardest thing to convey is the effort required and the weariness caused by thin air. In all of my films the challenge has been how do you show "thin air." It looks the same as the air at sea level it doesn't change color or shape to show that there is less oxygen in the air. And yet the thinnest of the air and often the wind present the greatest challenge of climbing on Everest, but we can see and hear the wind and we can understand a person with a frost covered beard and eyelashes is in a cold environment. That is one of the hardest things to convey in a film.

Good journalists do their research and homework and reach out to multiple sources to get as balanced a view as possible. But it is very hard to convey the experience to the public if you have not felt it first hand.

sheddinglikeamofo2 karma

have you made a phone call from the top?

DavidBreashears9 karma

No, but in 1983 I made the first live TV broadcast from the summit for ABC Sports. Also, in 1997 we made the first live webcast from the summit via radio-link for the PBS series Nova.

Here's an article about that broadcast: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1135901/1/index.htm

pandemonichyperblast2 karma

Would you fight one Snow Leopard sized Jumping Spider or 100 Jumping Spider sized Snow Leopards?

DavidBreashears14 karma

I would welcome a fight with either group, but I would never want to be at the wrong end of an angry yak. And I certainly would never want to fight 100 yak sized mice.