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The first man to transmit live television pictures from the summit of Mount Everest, and the first American to reach the summit twice, David Breashears is one of America's most distinguished mountaineers, filmmakers and adventure authors. He has led numerous expeditions to the most inhospitable environments on Earth and is passionate about raising awareness of the consequences of climate change in the Greater Himalayan Region. It is for this reason that he founded and is executive director of GlacierWorks, a non-profit organization employing art, science and adventure for the purpose.

Breashears is co-director and co-producer of the first-ever IMAX film to be shot on Mount Everest. Whilst filming, a ferocious blizzard hit which killed eight climbers. As expedition leader, Breashears took the decision to suspend their activities and assist stricken climbers. Having done this, his team regrouped and returned to the summit. Other notable achievements on the mountain have included performing the first live audio WebCast from the summit for the PBS science documentary series NOVA, and to date he has summited Everest no fewer than five times. He has received four National Emmy Awards for his filmmaking.

Breashears has written a number of books, including High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places, a memoir that has become a bestseller. He is co-author of the bestseller Last Climb (National Geographic), documenting George Mallory and Andrew Irvine's disappearance on Mount Everest in 1924. He wrote the afterword to National Geographic's book Everest: Mountain Without Mercy that told the story of his Everest IMAX expedition and was also contributing photographer to the book. The National Geographic book Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa is an accompaniment to his IMAX film of the same title.

Highly sought after as a professional speaker, Breashears has delivered presentations all around the world. Four times year he travels to Fontainebleau in France to deliver lectures on leadership, planning and team building for the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD, a program widely recognized as the most innovative and influential in the world. He also addresses Admirals and Commanders at the Naval Postgraduate School's Centre for Executive Education in Monterey, California on “Leadership in an Unpredictable World" six times a year.

Full Profile

Adventurer, Mountaineer, World-Class Filmmaker

David Breashears is an accomplished filmmaker, explorer, author, mountaineer, and professional speaker. He is also the founder and Executive Director of GlacierWorks, a non-profit organization that uses art, science, and adventure to raise public awareness about the consequences of climate change in the Greater Himalayan Region. Since 1978, he has combined his skills in climbing and filmmaking to complete more than forty film projects.

In 1983, Breashears transmitted the first live television pictures from the summit of Mount Everest, and in 1985 became the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest twice.

In the spring of 1996, Breashears co-directed and co-produced the first IMAX film shot on Mount Everest. When the now infamous blizzard of May 10, 1996 hit Mount Everest, killing eight climbers, Expedition Leader Breashears and his team were in the midst of making this historic film. In the tragedy that soon followed, Breashears and his team stopped filming to provide assistance to the stricken climbers. After returning to Base Camp, Breashears and his team then regrouped and reached the summit of the mountain on May 23, 1996, achieving their goal of becoming the first to record IMAX film images at Earth’s highest point. Breashears has said that if there is a lesson to be learned from the May 1996 tragedy, it is that for him, success that year was not to be found in reaching the summit, it was that everyone on his team returned safely. The film, titled EVEREST, premiered in March 1998.

In May of 1997, Breashears performed the first live audio WebCast from the summit of Mount Everest for the PBS science documentary series NOVA. Breashears is the recipient of four National Emmy Awards for achievement in filmmaking.

Breashears best-selling memoir High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places (Simon & Schuster) documents his life as a mountaineer and filmmaker. He co-authored National Geographic’s best-selling book Last Climb which documents the disappearance of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine on Mount Everest in 1924. Breashears wrote the afterward and was a contributing photographer for National Geographic’s book Everest: Mountain Without Mercy which documents the story of the 1996 Everest IMAX expedition. His IMAX film, Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa, is the subject of a National Geographic book of the same title.

In the spring of 2004, Breashears reached the summit of Mount Everest for the fifth time while shooting his film Storm Over Everest. Equipped with a 35mm motion picture camera, Breashears made his fifth ascent of Everest while leading his handpicked filmmaking team to the summit.

Breashears most recently produced and directed the feature-length documentary Storm Over Everest about the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. The film was acquired by NBC Universal and is scheduled for broadcast on the PBS series FRONTLINE on May 13, 2008. The documentary includes dramatic interviews with the survivors of Mount Everest’s deadliest storm, and strikingly realistic re-creations of the ferocious storm that killed eight people in May 1996. The film also tells the story of the climbers who perished in that storm, marking the worst climbing tragedy in Mount Everest’s history.

Breashears is an accomplished, highly sought-after professional speaker who has delivered his presentations throughout North America, Canada, Europe, and Asia. His lectures are closely tied to his ascent of Mount Everest in 1996 as expedition leader and co-director of the IMAX film team. He conducts quarterly lectures each year on leadership, planning and team building at the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France; widely recognized among the world’s top-tier business schools as the most innovative and influential. He also speaks about “Leadership in an Unpredictable World” six times annually to groups of Admirals and Commanders at the Naval Post-Graduate School’s Center for Executive Education in Monterey, California.

Speaking
David Breashears’ presentation is a compelling blend of first person story-telling illustrated by breathtaking and rarely seen images from the 1996 Everest IMAX filming expedition. He has delivered his presentation throughout North America, Canada, Europe and Asia. David’s extraordinary real-life leadership experiences, observations, practical knowledge, and expertise in many areas allow him to precisely target and interact with his audience. He speaks on a range of topics including leadership, motivation, teamwork, team building, and safety.

In addition to David’s corporate speaking engagements, he conducts quarterly lectures each year on leadership, planning and team building at the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. INSEAD is widely recognized as the most innovative and influential among the world’s top-tier business schools. David also speaks six times annually to the nations Admirals and Commanders at the Naval Post-Graduate School’s Center for Executive Education in Monterey, California. The subject of his presentation is “Leadership In An Unpredictable World.”

“He was a perfect 20th anniversary speaker. Very genuine and sincere and inspiring…It was a delight.”
– Worcester Foundation at UMASS Medical School



David Breashears Speaker Videos Back to top

Interview with Mountaineer and Photographer David Breashears


David Breashears tells the extraordinary story of his IMAX filming expedition to Mount Everest. As he says himself, “It's a story of courage, professionalism, dedication of purpose, camaraderie, but most of all it's a story about the triumph of the human spirit."

Telling his audience about his incredible trip, he explains, “I was a leader and director of our Everest IMAX team, and we were one of 12 teams on the mountain that year. That was a big change for me, because when I first went to Mount Everest in 1981 we were the only team on that side of the mountain."

Explaining some of the challenges of filming on the mountain, he says, “On Everest, 500 feet of film, five pounds of film last 90 seconds, that camera uses 5.6 feet of film per second. One of the challenges of using that camera on Everest was that I had to load the camera bare handed, so putting your hands into a steel box at -30 or -35, because we couldn't afford have one little bit of lint getting in the gate of that camera."

Everest Base Camp Exhibit


Mountaineer on dangers on Mount Everest


Climate+Change



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


David Breashears uses his experience of leading climbing expeditions on Mount Everest to inform his speeches. In a multimedia presentation which includes breathtaking rare images from his IMAX Everest expedition, he explains how his team not only managed to make the summit against incredible odds, but how he managed to get everyone back down safely.

Having spent many years with the slopes of Everest at his workplace, Breashears knows that success requires disciplined leadership, disciplined thought, and disciplined action. He explains how you can develop these qualities and how to interweave them in order to reach your own personal summits.

Vision, Courage, Passion: Leadership at 26,000 Feet
Breashears's leadership presentation is based on 25 years of experience as a mountaineer, adventurer and filmmaker. In telling about the infamous 1996 tragedy on Mount Everest, Breashears recounts the vision, courage and passion that helped his team reach the summit on May 23, 1996, despite insurmountable odds. His multimedia presentation includes breathtaking images from the IMAX “EVEREST” expedition. Breashears has said if there is a lesson to be learned from the tragedy, it is that success was not only being the world's first IMAX team to film on Everest's summit, it was also that everyone on his team returned safely from the mountain.

What It Takes to Climb Any Mountain
His years of difficult work on the unforgiving slopes of earth’s highest peak have taught Breashears that the interdependent keys to success are disciplined leadership, disciplined thought and disciplined action. Disciplined leaders engage in a disciplined thought process when choosing their team and designing a multi-dimensional, flexible plan. Occasionally, the environment for which the plan was devised is not the environment in which the plan unfolds, so disciplined action is required since the plan is only as valuable as the team’s ability to execute it. Without disciplined action and reliance on disciplined thought and leadership, great summits are rarely achieved.

Leading at the Edge of Possible; Leading Through the Storm
This presentation is a hands-on and practical session designed to help leaders assess their strengths and weaknesses. Breashears provides questions for leaders to ask themselves as they create and lead teams. He talks extensively about how leaders need to provide options for their team and not back them into a corner. He emphasizes the qualities of a great leader—intense curiosity, energy and humility—and talks about different ways leaders behave under pressure. He uses the example of the sherpa from his trips to and from the summit to talk about dignity within the team, and how selfish leaders can destroy a team.

Extreme Leadership in an Unforgiving World
Breashears says becoming a good leader and teammate is getting harder as the world becomes more complex and rapidly changing. In this talk, he explains why it is paramount for leaders to know their world, communicate a clear set of goals and mission, and have the commitment, conviction, and energy to lead your team to flawless execution. World-renowned Himalayan mountaineer and filmmaker Breashears knows what it’s like to lead in the world’s most unforgiving and often deadly environment of the high altitude slopes of Mount Everest. Similar to the corporate world, an Everest team needs to have supreme confidence in a leader’s expertise and ability so they know, no matter what, they will be safe through their own storm.





* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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David-Breashears---High-Exposure High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places
For generations of resolute adventurers, from George Mallory to Sir Edmund Hillary to Jon Krakauer, Mount Everest and the world's other greatest peaks have provided the ultimate testing ground. But the question remains: Why climb? In High Exposure, elite mountaineer and acclaimed Everest filmmaker David Breashears answers with an intimate and captivating look at his life. For Breashears, climbing has never been a question of risk taking: Rather, it is the pursuit of excellence and a quest for self-knowledge. Danger comes, he argues, when ambition blinds reason. The stories this world-class climber and great adventurer tells will surprise you -- from discussions of competitiveness on the heights to a frank description of the 1996 Everest tragedy.

Vision, Courage, Passion: Leadership at 26,000 Feet
Breashears's leadership presentation is based on 25 years of experience as a mountaineer, adventurer and filmmaker. In telling about the infamous 1996 tragedy on Mount Everest, Breashears recounts the vision, courage and passion that helped his team reach the summit on May 23, 1996, despite insurmountable odds. His multimedia presentation includes breathtaking images from the IMAX “EVEREST” expedition. Breashears has said if there is a lesson to be learned from the tragedy, it is that success was not only being the world's first IMAX team to film on Everest's summit, it was also that everyone on his team returned safely from the mountain.

What It Takes to Climb Any Mountain
His years of difficult work on the unforgiving slopes of earth’s highest peak have taught Breashears that the interdependent keys to success are disciplined leadership, disciplined thought and disciplined action. Disciplined leaders engage in a disciplined thought process when choosing their team and designing a multi-dimensional, flexible plan. Occasionally, the environment for which the plan was devised is not the environment in which the plan unfolds, so disciplined action is required since the plan is only as valuable as the team’s ability to execute it. Without disciplined action and reliance on disciplined thought and leadership, great summits are rarely achieved.

Leading at the Edge of Possible; Leading Through the Storm
This presentation is a hands-on and practical session designed to help leaders assess their strengths and weaknesses. Breashears provides questions for leaders to ask themselves as they create and lead teams. He talks extensively about how leaders need to provide options for their team and not back them into a corner. He emphasizes the qualities of a great leader—intense curiosity, energy and humility—and talks about different ways leaders behave under pressure. He uses the example of the sherpa from his trips to and from the summit to talk about dignity within the team, and how selfish leaders can destroy a team.

Extreme Leadership in an Unforgiving World
Breashears says becoming a good leader and teammate is getting harder as the world becomes more complex and rapidly changing. In this talk, he explains why it is paramount for leaders to know their world, communicate a clear set of goals and mission, and have the commitment, conviction, and energy to lead your team to flawless execution. World-renowned Himalayan mountaineer and filmmaker Breashears knows what it’s like to lead in the world’s most unforgiving and often deadly environment of the high altitude slopes of Mount Everest. Similar to the corporate world, an Everest team needs to have supreme confidence in a leader’s expertise and ability so they know, no matter what, they will be safe through their own storm.


Interview with Mountaineer and Photographer David Breashears


David Breashears tells the extraordinary story of his IMAX filming expedition to Mount Everest. As he says himself, “It's a story of courage, professionalism, dedication of purpose, camaraderie, but most of all it's a story about the triumph of the human spirit."

Telling his audience about his incredible trip, he explains, “I was a leader and director of our Everest IMAX team, and we were one of 12 teams on the mountain that year. That was a big change for me, because when I first went to Mount Everest in 1981 we were the only team on that side of the mountain."

Explaining some of the challenges of filming on the mountain, he says, “On Everest, 500 feet of film, five pounds of film last 90 seconds, that camera uses 5.6 feet of film per second. One of the challenges of using that camera on Everest was that I had to load the camera bare handed, so putting your hands into a steel box at -30 or -35, because we couldn't afford have one little bit of lint getting in the gate of that camera."

Everest Base Camp Exhibit


Mountaineer on dangers on Mount Everest


Climate+Change