© Cory Richards.
Cory Richards, a professional photographer and climber for The North Face athlete team, captured this image during the team’s 30-hour weather window which allowed them to summit Gasherbrum II, known as The Shining Mountain, an 8,000 meter (26,240 feet) peak in Pakistan that bridges the boarders of China and India. At 29, Richards was the youngest member and first American, to summit with his team members Simone Moro (Italy) and Denis Urubko (Kazakhstan). “The climb came after 26 years of failed attempts to climb one of the Pakistani 8,000 meter peaks in winter.”
Richards explains how he got the shot: “We were at about 24,270 feet, it was -45º, and we had been climbing since 3:00 am. I knew the sunrise was coming and there wasn’t going to be another opportunity like this. Trying to anticipate that, I ran (or tried to run) ahead, and promptly vomited from the effort. As I collected myself and caught my breath, I turned and fired off maybe 10 frames…this was the only one that was sharp enough to pass. It was one of those very rare and special moments where everything aligned…or at least close enough…to tell a monumental story of human effort in a massive and beautiful environment…in a single frame. I don’t think these happen very often in a career…where we can actually see the whole of our efforts is greater than the sum of all the parts.”