Most expeditions tackle Himalayan peaks around summer, when the weather is most favorable. Even then, success is a long shot. So when Cory Richards, with Simone Moro and Denis Urubko, set out in Winter 2010 for Pakistan’s Gasherbrum II, standing at8035 meters as theworld’s thirteenth tallest peak, the odds were against them.
Cold weather and blizzards were Himalayan-sized, but winter “amplified and exaggerated” the climate’s savagery and their own suffering, blogged Cory from base camp. Yet summit they did, making the first-ever winter ascent. And on the descent their strength and will were tested yet again, as they survived an avalanche.
“It was like looking at your own death coming at you,” said Cory of the wave of snow they dug themselves out of. This hard-won prize revealed Cory as a rising star of Himalayan alpinism.
In 2010, he climbed Lhotse, another 8000-meter giant, and recently on the smaller yet steeper Nepalese peaks of Kwangde and Tawoche he pioneered new routes of cutting-edge difficulty.
This 31-year-old Colorado-based professional photographer started climbing as a youngster, with his dad. His lenswork runs the gamut from fashion photography, to chronicling adventures for National Geographic.
Nickname: Dick Richards
Pet’s Name/Type: Love dogs…travel too much…but if I had one…Otis
Favorite Meal: Bison Steak
Favorite Movie: I am a movie freak…so this answer is nearly impossible. I’d have to break it down into genres and all sorts of boring stuff. I’ll just say I love film…
Favorite Snack: My wife’s ear ;)
Favorite Book: The Power of One, Buddha’s Warriors, Lamb
Most Humbling Moment: Surviving the avalanche on Gasherbrum II…those kinds of things give some sharp perspective on just how small we are.
Ambition: To remain humble and aware, to live kindly and with compassion, and never take anything for granted. One single goal is something of a joke…there is so much I want to approach, and yet I have no way of gauging whether or not those opportunities will arise. A finite answer seems cheap to me.
Weakness: Cheese…that and I often don’t know when to say no to things. I love what I do and often overload because I want to do it all. Saying no is a skill that can be freeing, as well as save your ass.
Three Things People Should Know About Me:
- I am American, not Canadian…I lived in Canada for three years and loved it…unfortunately, they didn’t give me a passport for my efforts there.
- Climbing and taking pictures is what I do, not who I am.
- I’m a high school dropout. It’s not something that I am necessarily proud of, but it does illustrate the point that everyone has their own path and locking ourselves into a model of should and shouldn’t can be equally as dangerous as the things that are deemed ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.
Inspiration Within the Sport: The friends and partners who are always having fun…even at the scariest and hardest moments. That’s why we all started, and that what we should aspire to maintain…fun.
Dream Vacation: “Where the beer flows like wine and the women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano…”
I Get Amped Listening To: Dre, 2001
Words To Live By: We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.
Favorite TNF Product & Why: The Himalayan of course…possibly the most practical piece we make ;)
- W. Face Tocllaraju solo 17 hours round trip from Huaraz, Cordillera Blanca, Peru 7/06
- N. Face Ranrapalca, Cordillera Blanca, Peru 7/06
- GHMH Route Taulliraju, Cordillera Blanca, Peru 6/06
- 3 Attempts on the SE face/Ridge of Huantsan, Cordillera Blanca, Peru
- Polarity, Snow Dome, VI WI 5+ FA w/ Dana Ruddy and Ian Welstead 10/07
- The Not So Direct Couloir, N Face Mt. Bryce, V WI4 m4 5.8 FA w/ Rahphael Slawinski/ Eamonn Walsh, and Dana Ruddy 07
- Yamabushi, Yamnuska IV 5.13a, FA w/ Will Gadd
- Cobra Norte, N. Face Kwangde Shar (FWA), VI WI 5+ M8 5.9 FA w/ Ines Papert 01/09
- Solo attempt Makalu to 7,400m, 05/09
- Ama Dablam, 6,812m, 11/09
- South Central Buttress, Tawoche, 5.10 M6 AI4, FA w/ Renan Ozturk 01/10
- Lhotse, 8,516m, 6 Days round trip to Basecamp with no prior acclimatization 5/10
- South Face of Nuptse attempt, 11/10
- Gasherbrum II, FWA and FWA of an of the Pakistani 8,000m peaks w/ Simone Moro and Denis Urubko 2/11
- National Geographic Assignment to Mustang with Pete Athans 8/10, 3/11, 6/11
- National Geographic Magazine, October 2010 Everest Cleanup
- National Geographic Magazine, Mustang Caves January 2011
- National Geographic Channel, Caves of Mustang 2012
- Outside Magazine, Gasherbrum II April, May 2011
- Rock & Ice Magazine, Profile Spotlight September 2011
- Outside China, Rockies Climbing with Barry Blanchard May 2007
- Vertical 9, Lhotse September 2010
- Rausch, Cobra Norte March 2010
- Climb, Rhapsody with Sonnie Trotter August 2008
- Gripped, Profile Spotlight June 2007
- Climax Magazine, Nepal Ines Papert 01/09
- Alpinist 34, Cover and Wired article 2011
- ‘As it Happens’ BMFF World tour film with Renan Ozturk
- ‘COLD’ Best Adventure film from 5 Point, Charlie Fowler Award from Telluride, Best of Fest at Squamish and New Zealand Mountain Film Festivals
- MOUNTAIN HEROES: PORTRAITS OF ADVENTURE by Dr. Huw Lewis Jones Contributing and Featured Photographer w/ Gordon Whiltsie and Glen Denny