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.