LIMA — David Breashears simply wanted to show the world Mount Everest in all its grandeur.
The mountaineer, author and filmmaker was leading a 1996 expedition up the peak behind a cumbersome Imax camera, serving as cinematographer and director. The eight-person crew found that beauty, but also captured the other side of the mountain. After descending from the summit, disaster struck above Breashears’ crew when a fierce winter storm killed eight climbers.
“The defining for all of us was are we going to go up or are we going to go home,” Breashears said.
They went back up, helping in the rescue and carrying down the dead, some of whom were close friends of Breashear’s. Ultimately, the Imax film “Everest” was released, including both footage of a climb’s routine rigors and footage of those affected by the storm. Breashears later released “Storm Over Everest,” which further recounted the mountain’s deadly day.
On Tuesday, he was in Lima to tell his story as the keynote speaker for St. Rita’s Medical Center’s annual new physician reception. As a speaker, he said his experience “allows me to be authentic, in that I only speak from what I’ve learned and seen firsthand and to describe a very important experience in my life.”
And climbing, in a way, can relate to everyone’s life, he said.
“There’s adversity, there’s discomfort, there’s the fear of the unknown, and we decide how we cope with those issues in our lives. We can’t always control the external forces on us.”
Breashears touched on teamwork, perseverance and dedication: “The day you stop trying to improve your skills is the day you should get out of your job, — any job, not just physicians,” he said.
As for the mountain, Breashears has been to the peak twice more since 1996, bringing his total to five successful climbs since his first in 1983 in which he became the 135th person to reach the summit.
“What I like to tell people is when you know what you’re doing and know how to take care of yourself and you have a passion for what you do, a lot of the perceived hardship is not so much a part of the equation.”