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Tom Taplin, R.I.P.: Colorado-Born Filmmaker Among Nepal Quake Victims

At this writing, the death toll from a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 is estimated at 3,800, and observers fear it will continue to grow.

Among those confirmed dead is Tom Taplin, 61, a filmmaker and photographer from Evergreen who was at a base camp on Mount Everest, where he was making a documentary, at the time he was killed.

Taplin owned TET Films & Photography, which he launched in 1981, according to his LinkedIn page. His BFI credits include three films associated with the French director Agnès Varda: Mur Murs, 1981's Documenteur and 2008's The Beaches of Agnès.

Taplin's wife, Cory Freyer, spoke to NBC News from the couple's current home, Santa Monica, California. She said she texted Taplin after hearing about the quake, but he didn't respond. Afterward, Taplin's guide phoned and said, "I'm so sorry."

"It's shocking," she said of Taplin's death. "All of his friends, and he has so many friends, every one of them is just devastated. Shocked.... Such a larger than life person — you just don't think of them losing their life."

The news was happier for six Colorado mountaineers who were actually climbing Everest when the quake struck: Alan Arnette, Jim Davidson, Matt Moniz, Charley Mace, Jim Walkley and Dr. Jon Kedrowski. They were airlifted to safety.

Kedrowski, who's from Denver, has shared information about the devastation on his blog. Here's a startling excerpt from one post-quake entry:

I was sitting in the dining tent right about 12 noon when the vibration of the glacier below me began. It was very subtle at first. And the sounds from outside made you think it was just another minor avalanche coming from one of the big walls in the amphitheater surrounding basecamp.

Then the shaking didn't stop. The roar of the surrounding mountain grew stronger and stronger. I grabbed my small laptop computer which I was writing on, got outside quickly and watched others emerge from their tents. It was snowing lightly and the roar from the earthquake, the shaking of the ground, the movement of the glacier was intense. The shaking lasted for almost a minute. I have been in a small earthquake before but this was huge. I would estimate 7-8 magnitude on the Richter scale. Then the scary part is immediately after the earthquake stopped….the roar from a huge avalanche…..a few moments passed, we could hear but couldn't see in the fog and the snow storm. I was just up on Pumori Yesterday……as we looked towards Pumori to the southwest, a HUGE snow avalanche cloud began to consume basecamp on that end. Snow dust engulfed the tents below us of Madison Mountaineering, Him Mex,, Jagged Globe, the SPCC, Henry Todd, and many others those lower camps really got dusted. IN fog the hillside which was brown before is completely white. It is too stormy foggy to see the Mountain of Pumori above, but the avalanche path is very near where I hiked yesterday and thank GOD I am not up there today. Anxious to see what the upper mountain looks like when the storm clears. 

In another post, Kedrowski writes about the damage to the base camp: "The areas of the middle of Basecamp that I mentioned that got dusted were actually COMPLETELY DESTROYED. 40-50% of basecamp is gone. The bowl to the southwest of basecamp and to the west side of the Khumbu Glacier below the eastern faces of Pumori took an avalanche of seracs and ice chunks that fell from at least 3,500’ above."

Look below to see an NBC video about the quake, featuring already outdated death-toll information, followed by a foreign-language report we found on YouTube featuring a Taplin sound bite recorded from Nepal; the clip begins at about the 24-second mark.

In the meantime, our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Tom Taplin and all the victims of the earthquake.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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