American filmmaker killed in Everest avalanche

(KRON) – A documentary filmmaker from Colorado was among four Americans killed in a Mount Everest avalanche triggered by the earthquake that shook Nepal.

Thomas Ely Taplin, 61, was working on a film about the community of climbers at base camp and had been there only a short time when the magnitude-7.8 quake struck, his wife, Cory Freyer, told The Associated Press on Monday.

“His passions were adventure travel and extreme landscape types of films,” Freyer said in a telephone interview. The couple lived in Evergreen, Colorado, most of the year, she said.

Eighteen people were killed by gusts of wind that blasted through Everest’s base camp during the temblor. The overall death toll from Saturday’s temblor is more than 4,000.

The U.S. State Department said at least four Americans have died in Nepal’s earthquake. Spokesman Jeff Rathke said all the U.S. citizens were killed at the Mount Everest base camp. He identified two as Taplin and Vinh B. Truon.

The other two haven’t been officially named yet. However Google has said that one of its executives, Dan Fredinburg, died on Everest on Saturday. And Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering has said that Marisa Eve Girawong also died in the avalanche. The 28-year-old from Edison, New Jersey, was working as a physician assistant with a climbing team.

Freyer said Taplin was passionate about mountaineering and was on his fourth trip to Nepal.

“He was very much a mountaineer,” she said. “He incorporated his filming with his mountaineering.”

Taplin was born in Denver, studied and lived for a time in California, and returned to Colorado in 2010, she said. He was a business associate of French filmmaker Agnes Varda.

Taplin did not have any children, Freyer said.

“No pets. Only plants,” Freyer said, which left the couple free to travel.

Taplin did not screen his documentaries publicly, although his latest project about the base camp at Mount Everest might have been a candidate for film festivals, Freyer said.

“That community and how it evolved over time was really what Tom wanted to create a film about,” Freyer said.

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