Google Explorer Killed on Everest Raised Awareness About Climate

Google Executive Daniel Fredinburg
Daniel Fredinburg, a self-described “adventurer/engineer” with Google’s privacy team, died of a head injury on Mount Everest, his sister wrote on the social media site Instagram. Photographer: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage via Getty Images

Google Inc. executive Dan Fredinburg was pursuing his latest environmental passion -- and a challenge from the late author Jack Kerouac -- when he lost his life in an earthquake on Mount Everest.

Fredinburg had quoted Kerouac, whose works in the 1950s and 1960s instilled wanderlust in a generation of young explorers, on his Google+ page last year while planning an excursion to the world’s highest peak: “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

Fredinburg was at camp on Everest with three other Google workers when the quake struck Nepal at midday Saturday, triggering an avalanche. More than 2,200 people in the region were killed. The other Google employees survived, according to a post on the company’s social service.

“2015 Everest Expedition fully underway,” Fredinburg wrote on Instagram in March. “Gear is ready. I am ready. Now spending some time thinking about how this year’s climb can be as impactful as possible!”

Fredinburg joined the Web giant in 2007 and was most recently the head of privacy for Google X, the research unit making longterm bets on driverless cars and high-altitude balloons to deliver Internet access. He ran the product management team for Google’s privacy group, according to his LinkedIn profile, and had worked on data-protection infrastructure. He previously was a software engineer at Boeing Co. and was educated at the University of California at Irvine and Stanford University. His age wasn’t immediately available.

Posts on Fredinburg’s social media accounts displayed concern for the environment, social issues and for orphans, amid world travels that had taken him to Latvia, other parts of the Baltics, and the Maldives. One of his final posts on Instagram spoke of concern about environmental change on Everest: “Saving ice on top of Kala Patthar. Everest Basecamp in the background is a climate change hotspot.”

Climate Change

As co-founder of Save the Ice, Fredinburg aimed to raise awareness about climate change through adventure and activism. He also was behind The Laundry, an effort to help social impact startups accelerate their businesses.

A new Crowdrise effort, “Celebrating Dan” has raised more than $8,000 in support for two Nepalese orphans who already were the inspiration for Fredinburg’s climb, according to the site. Google.org is committing $1 million to the response for the quake and said it would have a gift-matching available soon, according to the Google+ post.

Fredinburg’s final Instagram post showed him drinking coffee during the excursion. The next entry came from his sister, Megan, announcing his death on Mount Everest.

“We appreciate all of the love that has been sent our way thus far and know his soul and his spirit will live on in so many of us,” Megan wrote. “All our love and thanks to those who shared this life with our favorite hilarious strong willed man. He was and is everything to us.”

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