In the mountaineer world Cory Richards is known as quite a success story. He is an accomplished climber and adventure photographer who has topped out on some of the world’s tallest peaks, including Everest. Back in 2011, he was even part of the first team to complete a winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, joining Simone Moro and Denis Urubko on the summit. To all outside appearances, Richards looked like a guy who had the world at his feet, knocking off tall peaks in remote parts of the world and delivering some of the most stunning images of those places. But, as it turns out, he was also battling a lot of demons, which hid just below the surface threatening to bring it all crashing down.
In a new article for National Geographic, Richards opens up about the challenges he has faced in his personal life, revealing that he first ran into trouble as a young teenager who began using drugs and found himself homeless on the street at the age of 13. That would alienate him from his family for a time and send him on a downward spiral that would leave a lasting impression on any young person. But, he would eventually crawl out of that situation and reunite with his family.
Years later, while climbing Gasherbrum II, he would get caught in an avalanche, narrowly avoiding death. Understandably that would lead to Richards developing a case of PTSD that would begin to haunt him on and off the mountain. He started to drink, he battled addiction issues, he got married but struggled to stay faithful. The difficulties continued to mount, even as his career really started to take off. Eventually, it would all come crashing down. He lost his wife, he left the multimedia studio he helped found, he turned away from friends, and it looked like everything would implode.
Then, last year, climber Adrian Ballinger reached out to Richards to see if he would be interested in climbing Everest together. The two men traveled to Nepal and went to work on the highest mountain on the planet, using social media in unique ways to document their climb. On summit day, Ballinger was forced to turn back, but Richards continued upward, reaching the summit alone. It was then that he knew he had to confront the demons that he faced and get his life together.
In the article, Cory shares some very personal stories about his internal battles, how he got to the lowest point in his life, and what it has been like to crawl back out of that spot again. He gives us a stark, honest look at himself with the hopes that his story might help others, even as sharing the truth helps him too. It is an interest read and a cautionary tale for sure.
Check it on in its entirety here.
- COVID in Mt. Everest Base Camp and Other News from the World’s Highest Peak - May 4, 2021
- U.S. Adds 116 Countries to the ‘Do Not Travel List’ - April 27, 2021
- New Annapurna Summit Record Could be a Sign of Things to Come on Everest - April 20, 2021