On March 15th, David Breashears, the pioneer American Himalayan climber and filmmaker, died at his home in Virginia. There are many great tributes available. Find Outside Magazine’s wonderful article, featuring Ang Phula Sherpa, here.

We want to say a few things from our Musa Masala family and friends who knew David well. He has been a help to Musa Masala since the beginning. He wrote a blurb for our book, Musa Masala: Mountain Girl of the Himalaya

My (Mike Ji’s) moment that has stuck in my mind about David happened two days after meeting him at the Hotel Mulberry in Kathmandu. I was really lost in Thamel, somewhere between the shops that sell gongs, the shops that sell climbing gear and the shops that sell more climbing gear, and here in front of me stands David. I must have looked partly drowned as he had a look of concern and empathy on his face. He asked me how I was. I was surprised that he remembered me or my name. He gave me some pretty spot on directions and went on his way. Running EMS calls for years, you get to recognize someone who really has it together. At the time, and again now, I think of him as the guy I want on my crew, as my doctor or as my Search and Rescue guy. It’s a moment that has always stuck with me. Thank you, David.

Pem Dorjee Sherpa:

David Breashears was not just a climber; he was a force of nature. Working alongside him on several movie projects, I witnessed firsthand his unwavering dedication and his unparalleled strength on the mountainside. His commitment to showcasing the beauty of Nepal’s peaks not only promoted tourism but also captured the hearts of adventurers worldwide.

David’s passing leaves a profound void in the mountaineering community—a loss felt deeply by all who knew him. Yet, amidst the sadness, I am grateful for the time I spent with him, for the lessons learned and the memories shared. His legacy as a pioneering climber and a passionate advocate for the mountains will endure, guiding future generations to reach new heights.

Rest in peace, David. Your spirit lives on in the hearts of those you inspired, and your contributions to the world of mountaineering will never be forgotten. 

 Pem Dorjee Sherpa, David and Ang Phula Sherpa at the premiere for Everest

Luanne Freer, MD:

I first met David Breashears in 2003 at a 50th anniversary party in Kathmandu celebrating Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hilary’s Everest summit. We had just finished Everest ER’s first season, and it was a culture shock to be suddenly amongst hundreds of people dressed in finery after spending 2 months in a tent. I was a bit starstruck when introduced to David, who was such a hero of mine. He was kind and interested in hearing more about Everest ER, especially when he found that we both were friends of Wongchhu Sherpa, who had set up my camp.

Over the years, David and I shared camp on Everest, many times and there’s no substitute for the camaraderie that develops when we are sharing meals and conversation and living in the same space. He was brilliant and insightful, and a great conversationalist who kept us entertained, and sometimes well fed. (He was a great and enthusiastic cook, even over a single burner propane stove!) When I got married at Everest Base Camp, I was honored to have David photograph the wedding and celebration. (The relationship didn’t last, but the photos were stunning!)

We collaborated on helping to arrange the medical care of our dear friend Wongchhu when he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer during the filming of “Everest”, and we were in camp together in 2015 when we got the call that Wongchhu was again hospitalized with an unfavorable prognosis. We quickly arranged a helicopter to get us down to his bedside and spent several days together in Kathmandu, trying to make our friends last a few months as comfortable as possible. We were involved in different relief missions after the great earthquake several days later, and we came together in grief after Wongchhu’s death at the end of that year. I lost touch with David sometime thereafter; he told me he had no interest in returning to Nepal if Wongchhu wasn’t there and admitted that the loss of our friend rocked his world…as the loss of David will continue to reverberate for many of us.

David, Wongchhu Sherpa and Peter Degerfeldt

Lakpa Sherpa:

David Finlay Breashears was not only a renowned filmmaker but also a close friend of my dad. Beyond being his closest friend, he was also a mentor to my dad and was with my dad from the initial phase of supporting each other with all the business planning, trips organizing, and many project related with mountains. According to my dad, Breashears recognized my dad’s potential and encouraged him to establish a trekking company to offer quality service to trekkers and promote tourism in Nepal. Sharing a common vision to promote Nepal internationally, Breashears and my dad collaborated on various promotional activities, including several movies, IMAX Everest, WGBH-NOVA, and “EVEREST” the movie, through my dad’s company, Wongchhu Peak Promotion Pvt. Ltd. Today, I feel proud to say that he was the man behind the name of the trekking company and after my dad’s passing, me along with my team are handling his business.

I’ve known him since my childhood, spanning 20 years, and I grew up hearing about his friendship with my dad. After my dad’s passing in 2015, I took over his business and worked closely with Breashears, gaining a deeper understanding of him. He treated me like his own daughter and consistently supported me, mentoring me just as he did my dad. He often shared business ideas with me and discussed strategies for promoting Nepal on an international scale. Breashears frequently visited Nepal and was highly regarded among Nepali climbers and trekkers for his attention to detail and keen observations. He assisted numerous guides in improving their futures, as evidenced by my dad’s example.

Though we weren’t prepared for the news, we must face reality. The world has lost a great man, but we have lost our guardian and mentor, much like my dad. His passing has left us shattered, and we still struggle to accept that he’s gone forever. It feels unreal. His loss is a significant blow to Nepal’s tourism industry. I hope my dad and Breashears unite again in heaven. In his memory, we are planning to pay tribute to him so that everyone can appreciate his contributions to Nepal.

Ang Diku Sherpa and Lakpa Sherpa with David in Kathmandu

Ang Phula Sherpa:

I spent more than 18 years with David, “the boss” in the Himalaya. I first met David in 1998 at my Uncle Wongchhu Sherpa’s house in Kathmandu. My father left home when I was 10. Wongchhu brought me to Kathmandu  to learn and work at age 11. In 2000, I started working as a porter on climbing trips, and in 2004 I climbed Mt. Everest as a climbing Sherpa with the Working Title Expedition. Here I had over two months working with David. After that, I would work on his projects when he came to Nepal. We worked together for 44 projects over the years. 

For the making of the film “Everest” in 2014, thanks to David and my uncle, I was cast as Ang Dorji Sherpa, and had a chance to be in front of the camera, travel to filming locations and even the films premiere in Hollywood, CA, USA. 

In 2015 we were at Camp 1 on Mt Everest when the horrible earthquake shattered Nepal. We were part of the group evacuated to base camp via helicopter due to the collapse of the climbing route through the Khumbu icefall. That terrible day, which took 18 lives at base camp, left a dark mark on all of us, and the humanitarian work afterwards affected him deeply.

David raised money and helped reconstruction in Nepal, he also helped my uncle Wongchhu bring the Wongchhu Vishwa Darshan Basic School, the Wongchhu Hydropower Project, and the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital to the Tapting area of Nepal, in the Solukhumbu. David also founded Glacier Works, which was established to study the recession of glaciers in the Himalaya. 

David was not just my friend but my guiding light, mentor and source of comfort and wisdom. He lived a life filled with love, compassion and kindness. (David, you will always continue to inspire me.) David was recognized by King Birendra of Nepal for his work and by many other organizations for his social work and lifesaving in the mountains. After the death of my Uncle Wongchhu Sherpa in 2015, David lost much of his zest to visit Nepal. The death of David now shakes me. I have lost both of my fathers, but the memory of the social work they both did will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Ang Phula Sherpa, Beck Weathers, and David at Everest premiere