Cory Richards, a North Face team athlete and member of the National Geographic Society, was flown by helicopter from Everest Base Camp to the nearby medical facility of Lukla, Nepal, after doctors feared a pulmonary embolism. The celebrated photographer—he was just recently awarded the Rowell Award from the American Alpine Club, which honors a great adventure photographer—was making his first attempt at Everest via the little-traveled West Ridge. At about 23,000 feet on Saturday afternoon, local time, Richards was climbing with expedition leader Conrad Anker when he turned back due to shortness of breath. After descending to Camp II, where he was given supplemental oxygen, Richards was advised to continue moving down the mountain. It wasn't until he reached Base Camp that a rescue was possible, and even then it had to be completed by the one pilot who refused to be grounded by bad flying conditions. Richards is now in Kathmandu awaiting diagnosis.
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