As far as I can tell, the value of climbing mountains is only found in how we carry the lessons we learn up high into the life we lead on flat ground. Pictured here: Looking for lessons with @matocoexpeditions (no Os) in the Lhotse couloir with the sun coming up on Everest behind. #mountains #transformation #motivation #adventure
On the plane to start a new assignment for #natgeo yesterday, I was listening to some podcasts to fill the waiting during travel time, which got me thinking… I admittedly oscillate between “woo-woo” and nihilism. Social media can amplify this, especially Instagram. I feel and see community as much as I experience FOMO and isolation. There’s as much support between the scrolls as there is fear of failure. I’m going to err on the side of Woo-woo today and open up a conversation - I know a lot of you are following along more for my stories on #everest than my photojournalism or #mentalhealth awareness - regardless I put in the same energy, effort and exploration whether climbing or telling a story (mine or others). And the process of each of these journeys bring me tremendous joy as well as suffering. Different sides to the same coin. I was reminded by that podcast, by going for a goal, it brings out aspects of you that wouldn’t come out otherwise, so when you reach your next “mountain top”, and mountain tops are endless, who’s with you are the people who are supposed to be with you based on what you have become. So, when you are going for a goal, it’s not about achieving, it's about who you are becoming on the way of bringing that goal to fruition. I’d like to hear your thoughts - what are some journeys you’ve been on that have made you feel the greatest highs and the lowest lows? Does social media inspire you to keep achieving? Or does it just fill the gaps in-between the day? Do you find you have FOMO, how do you deal with it? Does it effect your goals? #mountains #adventure #exploration #transformation #onassignment
Past couple posts have been a little serious. So, here's just a beautiful vista from Franz Josef Land to cool us off before the weekend. Happy Friday everyone! Pictured here: A view from the shore while on #expedition for #natgeo. Shot #onassignment for @natgeo magazine's "Frans Josef Land: The Meaning of North" #adventure #mountains #landscape #nature
In 2014, I had the honor to travel on the behalf of #natgeo to Franz Josef Land (FJL), an #arctic Russian archipelago inhabited only by military personnel. Similarly to last post, I witnessed first-hand the changing, melting landscape of pristine land. Since this #expedition, scientific studies have concluded that “ice mass loss from 2011-2015 has doubled compared to any previous time spans”. Glacier retreat has been widespread and has led to the creation of at least one new island. Ice wastage, which means the removal of snow or ice from a glacier, was historically relatively small, but accelerating ice loss is the new normal for FJL. We don’t need to travel to the arctic to experience our changing environment. There are shifts occurring here in my home of the United States, which some of you have spoken about in yesterday’s post’s comment section. To me, this isn’t a political debate, so let’s continue the conversation about our experiences and how to personally shift to make better choices - better choices for ourselves and our present *and future* global community. Pictured here: Walruses approach our expedition boat from a haul out on Hooker Island. During summer, when sea ice diminishes, walruses congregate on shorelines, where food is scarce and youngsters can get trampled. Shot #onassignment for National Geographic Magazine’s “Franz Josef Land: The Meaning of North” #climatechange
Yesterday's post created some passionate conversation, both in my direct messages and in the comments field. The issue of #climatechange can be polarizing. As a human race, we form our belief systems around what we are taught was well as what we experience first hand. Every person has their own unique experience in life, which means we all have our own individual, and equally real, experience of the world. I'm curious: What is your unique experience of climate change? What have you or haven't you seen first hand? What makes you believe what you believe? I'm interested about all experiences. No wrong answer here. Pictured here: A lone #polarbear shot #onassignment for #natgeo while on #expedition in #franjosefland #arctic #russia
On August 1st, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis ( @climatecrisis) met in my home town of Boulder, CO. This year, Colorado adopted an economy-wide carbon pollution law that will cut emissions 90 percent by 2050. The House Select Committee discussed how to use “Colorado’s Roadmap for Clean Energy” as an action plan. I had the honor and pleasure to photograph some of the bipartisan committee members and local change makers upon the wrap of the event. Pictured here: *Image 1: Joe Neguse: Congressman, Colorado’s 2nd District *Image 2:Kathy Castor ( @usrepkathycastor): Chair, House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis; Congresswoman, Florida’s 14th District *Image 3: Garrett Graves ( @instagravesla): Congressman, Louisiana’s 6th District *Image 4: Sean Casten ( @repseancasten): Congressman, Illinois’s 6th District #portrait #portraiture #climatechange #climatecrisis
Yesterday's post brought up some good questions about failure. I'm curious, what do you all consider to be failure? Pictured here: @cedarwright trying hard. #climbing #failure #transformation #adventure
A commitment to climbing mountains means a commitment to failure. Something I am reflecting upon with today being National Mountain Climbing Day. For example, on our quest to summit the highest peak in #myanmar, the expedition team and I were pushed to our limits, brought down to nothing. As a team we collectively made the decision to turn back after a 40+ day attempt. It may seem like a failure by traditional standards, but the best lessons are sometimes learned when your acute discernment is put to the test. Seen here, @renan_ozturk on expedition and #onassignment for #natgeo. #nationalmountainclimbingday #mountains #travel #climbing #adventure #travel #failure #transformation #burma
A little late to the draw here but HUGE CONGRATULATIONS out to a small group of my favorite people!🎉 Last week @adrianballinger & @carla.perez.ec summited K2 w/o the use of supplemental oxygen, both of them now having climbed the two two highest 8000m peaks sans Os. Accompanied by my climbing partner @estebantopomena they held fast after most teams abandoned their attempts, climbing with an insanely strong sherpa team and combining forces with @nimsdai to take this season to a beautiful conclusion. Massive admiration for all!
As much as I love humans, there is something to be said for the absence there of. Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel. Andaman Islands, India.
Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel
Reclamation in process. Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel in the Andaman Islands, India.
An Oracle, exhausted from his journey crosses the threshold into the monastery, held on either side by monks to keep him from collapse. Ladakh, India. Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel
A little more magic from Ladakh, India. Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel
Little person + big landscape = 🤩Instafame🤩 😏Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel
Changpa Nomad, #Ladakh , #India Shot #onassignment for #natgeotravel #portrait #photojournalism
Changpa Nomad, Ladakh, Northern India. Shot #onassignment for #natgeo #travel #culture #india #photojournalism
Ladakh, India. DISCLAIMER: Eyerolling emo deep thoughts to follow. Proceed with caution. // I love portraiture above all forms of photography. We are such an amazing creature. We are both creative and destructive, kind and vicious, powerful and meek, beautiful and ugly. It's my belief however that the majority of us dont live in those binary arenas. Very few people are truly good or bad, black or white...rather, we are infinite shades of grey depending on the day, the hour, the minute...even the second. Thinking of ourselves in binary terms is an attempt at comfort which is an injustice that robs us of our unique complexities. And while I've found that all of us embody a multitude of different shades at any given moment, we are all pretty similar as well. For me, photography has often been a way to seize upon perceived differences in order to expose our overarching similarities as a human family and hopefully bring us closer together. Too see one another completely is to see ourselves, regardless of where we were born, the color of our skin, our gender, what language we speak, or which god we pray to. And while there is unspeakable evil in the world, the power of said darkness pales in comparison to the power we achieve when we see ourselves as a whole and constantly unfolding. Shot #onassignment for #natgeo #portrait #culture #travel #photography #portraitphotography #emo
Ladakh, India. Shot #onassignment for @natgeotravel #mountains #travel #light #landscape #nature
The universal language of childhood // ladakh, India Shot #onassignment for @natgeotravel
As a human family, we might just have an inflated sense of self. Maybe it's a developed arrogance or maybe its innate. Regardless, the impact we inflict is undoubtedly severe. As more and more species go extinct in our wake of "progress", our footprint gets amplified. But I am also hopeful. It's not hard to see the tireless reclamation always taking place around us. It can be seen as a living testament to our integral part of nature, countering the beliefs of many that we are apart from nature. Shot #onassignment for @natgeotravel in the #andamanislands #nature #life
Changpa Nomad, Ladakh 2018. The Changpa are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir. A smaller number resides in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region and were partially relocated for the establishment of the Changtang Nature Reserve. // shot using a single B1 light with a collapsible beauty dish. #travel #portrait #culture #natgeo #india #nomad
With such a big footprint, it's easy to forget how small we really are. Paradoxically, it's easy to underestimate the impacts and choices of single human...some more than others. We're all in this and on this together. Ladakh, India 2018 @natgeotravel
Changpa nomads, Ladakh 2018. // looking forward to sharing some of these images from last fall now that I'm able. This kind of travel is some of my favorite...seeing a place for the first time is a gift. // Next week I'll be in Mexico City for the first time and am looking forward to having my mind blown open again. If you have any insider tips, let me know 😏
Ive taken a few weeks off after coming home. Processing is hard for me sometimes and I have the tendency to go through a pronounced depressive cycle post expedition. It's the fallout from hyper stimulation and it lends itself well to a certain degree of despondency. It's a tremendous privilege to be able to do what I do, so I do my best not to dwell in it. Regardless, it's a truth and a piece of my temperament. The indication that its nearing its end presents in subtle ways...like the desire to make photographs and train slowly emerge and the desire to hide begins to dissolve like a heavy fog lifting. Looking forward to the full sunshine forthcoming.
Photo @estebantopomena Day two breaking trail at 24,000 ft. during our attempt on a new route on the NE Face of Everest. No lines. No overcrowding. No stepping over dead bodies...which is all we seem to hear about. This mountain is a humbling place and so easily underestimated and misunderstood. Grateful to be able to try again next year.
Congrats to @carolinegleich & @rob.lea members of the @alpenglowexpeditions Rapid Ascent team for their recent summit of Everest from the Tibetan side! Sick to watch this team rally hard and pull it off so seamlessly. Rob is gonna go ahead and swim the English Channel next...nbd. Be sure to give both of them a follow for more adventures from around the globe! #climbforequality
And just like that, a years worth of work comes to an end. There is a marginal window approaching, but not one that warrants an attempt on our route. So, @estebantopomena and I will join scores of other expeditions and routes that have taken multiple seasons to complete, pack up our shit, and start the process today to return next season to try again. Disappointing? For sure. Realistic? Totally. Good luck to our friends who are trying to squeeze a summit in these last few days. Big thanks to our team @alpenglowexpeditions for the support. Only 12 months to be better, stronger, more refined, and more dialed. Thanks #Everest for keeping it very real this season.
Photo @estebantopomena 1st attempt: @estebantopomena and I spent 40 hours on the wall with one open bivvy at 7300 m (around 24,000 ft). The conditions we encountered coupled with our chosen tactics compounded by exertion meant that we had to turn back at around 7,600 m. Downclimbing safely took another 7 hours from our high point. Back in ABC and reassessing our approach, we are looking into the early days of June for a potential second window and attempt. Is it a failure? In the most strict sense of the word, Absolutely. But is it a building block? For sure. I've always maintained that this is truly a journey vs. a summit sport. But to truly understand the whole process, you have to get to the summit. Fingers crossed that happens this season.
More in stories // Our weather window is around the corner. Topo and I are in our last rotation of “hurry up and wait”, so while we continue to get the slow drip of weather forecasts, we have posted the final Ask Me Anything’s we recorded before we left. We answered general questions about Everest Logistics. They will be posted slowly over the next coming hours to keep us all occupied until we go for the push. You know...just in case you weren’t planning on watching @gameofthrones or anything. Check out my stories for all the answers. Photo by @estebantopomena from our final acclimatization rotation. #ama #everest #mountains #adventure #climbing #logistics
Visit my stories for video // Topo and I have departed from ABC and have arrived at the North Col. Our plan is to be up here for the next 2 days, touch 8000m (26,000ft), sleep high, and get this last rotation of acclimatization in the bag. Pictured here: Topo ( @estebantopomena) and I on the the projected new route on our first (and only) scouting mission last month. In the left of the frame, those tiny yellow dots are tents at ABC (Advanced Base Camp) Photo by the great #natgeo #photographer and #director @ladzinski #everest #mountains #training #climbing #adventure #travel
#everest Route Report: As some of you have seen from my stories, @estebantopomena and I have been preparing gear and nutrition for the route. Many have asked if we are about to go climb, but the honest answer is the winds are high and we are bored. So, to occupy our time, as well as to keep the psych level up, we started preparing what we could. Based on weather, we most likely won’t be able to get on the new route again for another 2 weeks. Thank you everyone for the well wishes, the prayers, the kind thoughts and the funny notes. It helps us pass the time and makes it all feel a little less lonely. Regardless of being psyched and excited it still is a mental challenge to battle the internal conversations of loneliness, fear and everything in between. With May being #mentalhealthawarenessmonth, it is important to me to share both the good and the realities that come with climbing this route, not just as an alpinist, but as someone who lives with #bipolar and an advocate for furthering the conversation around #mentalhealth Pictured here, Topo and I maneuver to the base of the route to stow our gear for when the time is right. Planning and preparations is integral to a successful and safe climb. #mountains #adventure #climbing #training #mentalhealthawareness
Another shot from scouting the new route a couple days ago. Seen here @estebantopomena making the deceivingly mellow (its not) ascent up to 7300m. Winds are high rn and it’s a little questionable to get back on it right now on account of downslope winds - so we will be acclimatizing in nearby terrain. In my.long tradition of oversharing, if you haven't seen the episodes of The Line by @roam check them out in my link. @ladzinski @estebantopomena @erichroepke @nikonusa #nikoneverest #adventure #climbing #himalayas #travel #mountains
Photos by the prolific and badass @ladzinski Photography up here is hard. Telling a story is even harder. So much respect for @ladzinski as well as @erichroepke for supporting @estebantopomena and me on this mind bender of a journey. Lots of fear. Lots of questioning. Equal amounts of psyche, play, and joy. // projected line follows the central couloir to our left in the first image. The summit is peak seen in the upper right of the same frame. #theobstacleistheway @roam
We finally got to touch the new route today and work the bottom crux. It was hot. And it was hard. But then again everything is at 24,000ft (7300m). Picking up a camera..climbing...walking...breathing...all hard. We will be up here for a couple more days to hopefully work the route more, though the winds are high and not really in our favor. Here is @estebantopomena on the approach. @estebantopomena @ladzinski @nikonusa @roam @erichroepke #nikoneverest #everest
Win A Free Print // one of the great things about Everest season is that there aren't many distractions on rest days and I get to catch up with all my friends that the last 10 months of training have prevented me from connecting with. Like the insanely talented @zarialynn, a dear friend and artist who documents #climatechange with pastel drawings. While I was resting at basecamp, we reconnected and came up with this challenge for you: *** 1/2 of the pictures in this carousel are my photographs from the East Rongbuck Glacier and the other 1/2 are Zaria’s pastels from various places around the globe. Guess which 3 in the group are her pastels by commenting below with the picture number. All the right answers will be entered in a random drawing. The winner will receive one of my prints. You have until Wednesday May 1st to make your guess. Good luck! #contest #contests #contestalert
The places I’ve traveled over the many years being a @natgeo photographer, as well as an alpinist, have been powerful, but it is the hospitality, the people, the stories I’ve heard or seen through the depth of their eyes or the history in the lines of their hands that have been the most impactful. #portrait #photography #natgeo #travel #culture
Yes, we did sleep here. This image was taken in 2016 on my successful summit of #Everest without supplemental oxygen. Sleeping close to the line climbers use to summit provides us safety. A sight like this will not be an option when we start our push next month. In the mean time, we are acclimatizing (going high and sleeping low), resting and enjoying basecamp camaraderie. Continue to #followme @coryrichards as I attempt a new route on the North East Face of Everest with partner @estebantopomena, and without the use of supplemental oxygen nor porter support and in alpine style. #natgeo photographer @ladzinski + independent videographer/digital asset manager @erichroepke is joining the team as documentarians for our projects with @nikonusa and @roam. #mountains #adventure #transformation #training
In Memoriam of David Lama, Jess Roskelley, and Hansjörg Auer // What's newsworthy here isn't the tragedy that's unfolded. What's truly newsworthy is the caliber of athlete and human these young men were. The tragedy of their early passing is only compounded by the interest and drama surrounding this event. The mountains cast long shadows, but it's important that we don't dwell there. Rather, celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes who venture there while they live. Now is a time for reverence and quiet reflection reserved for the families and friends in the wake of their untimely passing.
Crossing the Tibetan Plateau I’m continually renewed and inspired by the scenics around me. We have made it to basecamp. I begin the last leg of the other journey that has been the primary focus of my vision: training. 10 months behind me, each day built upon the last creating steps of progress up along the way. Each success and failure of the past make it possible to attempt the final goal. So many place the focus on the final step, but it’s a staircase - you can’t make it to the top without the many that were laid before. It’s been less about the goal, and its outcome, than the transformations that have built me into who I am in this moment. Photo 1: Weather rolling into the Tibetan Plateau Photo 2: A Tibetan Mastiff, making me miss my pup at home. With every goodbye, I can say hello again. #nikoneverest @nikonusa @ladzinski @roam @estebantopomena @erichroepke #tibet #everest #transformation #training #landscape #photography
It's easy to convince ourselves that environments have moods...and certainly there are belief systems that would hold to that. I tend to think that we bring our emotions to the mountains...and the mountains themselves are the planet's greatest mirror. On the day I took this image in 2016, we climbed through snow and cloud. The heat caused by the convection cycle triggered repeated small avalanches that would rumble over seracs obscured by a thick fog on either side. This day, and the mood that I was bringing to it was reminiscent of a not so good day I had in the mountains several years ago when one of the distant rumbles became not so distant and engulfed my partners and I. My neuro-chemistry has never recovered. That day I was looking in the mirror at a fear that I've never overcome. That day, because I was angry, the mountains were angry. As I climbed the slope beneath the seracs (which are almost as safe as they come), I felt my heart rate increase and my breathing become labored. I was scared, and that made me mad. But the truth is the mountains are indiscriminate. They don't care. They shine when it is sunny and they fall when it is snowy. It's what we bring to them that defines our experience...and maybe even more important, its how we are changed by them and what we bring home and share that matters most. I am excited, scared, humbled to experience how the mountains will change me on this new journey through a familiar - yet different - landscape. Continue to #followme + @ladzinski + @estebantopomena to see our real time stories as we now make our way across the Tibetan plateau from Lhasa to #everest basecamp. #mentalhealthawareness #climbing #adventure #transformation
Today we embark on the first leg of our journey to #Everest in an attempt to ascend a new route on the North East face. @estebantopomena will be my climbing partner and #natgeo photographer @ladzinski will be accompanying us as part of the capture team and we all will be supported by @erichroepke via @roam. I’ll be pretty disconnected from #Instagram, but I will be sending my studio team (Angie and Melissa), back in Boulder, updates to post while I’m focusing on the climb. I will do my best to personally post when I can - because the support I feel here on the ‘grams has be unparalleled. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to wish us well on this journey and my recent announcement as a @nikonusa ambassador. This type of support is fuel to keep me going. Continue to #follow along on our journey to climb a new route, without supplemental oxygen, in alpine style and without support of porters, and be sure to check out @ladzinski, @nikonusa and @roam for more stories, videos and images. Check my stories to see our travel from Boulder, Colorado to China and tomorrow we’ll post all the photography AMAs. #nikoneverest #climbing #photography #roam #adventure
As I’m on the way to airport to catch a rescheduled flight to China after our original logistics were canceled due to the “bomb cyclone” hitting Colorado, I have a moment to reflect and absorb the support of those who have been integral in getting me here. I’m taken back by the warmth of my friends and family as well as the brands that have moved their own mountains to support me in getting us to the base of ours. In this moment, I’m honored to publicly announce that one such brand, @nikonusa is not just supporting me as a photographer but also in our efforts on Everest. Nikon is at the forefront of technological innovation and we will be utilizing their unique technology in the most trying environment on the planet. Nikon’s ambassador team includes some of the most elite and world-class visual story-tellers of our time and I’m humbled to be in the company of legends such as these, as I embark on my first assignment as a Nikon Ambassador. Please continue to follow along on Instagram and the hashtag: #NikonEverest. To start, we ( @ladzinski and I) will be posting the answers to your photography Ask Me Anything’s today and exploring the Nikon capture equipment we will be using on the expedition. Though there are no words to truly describe the gratitude I’m feeling, thank you @nikonusa . #everest #photographer #photography #nikon
LINK IN PROFILE // Seen here I’m climbing the final summit pyramid on Everest’s North Side on a previous expedition. Regardless of how @estabantopomena and I reach this point, they will have to negotiate this exact step or find a way to bypass it to keep their line independent. I recently sat down for an interview with @Natgeo and explored this, and other challenges we may potentially face, with writer @andrewbisharat. Click the link in my profile to read this article and to also watch the first 2 episodes of “The Line.” #natgeo #climbing #everest #mountains #himalayan #adventure #travel #photography