Cory Richards Survives an Avalanche and Falls right into a Health Crevasse, CrossFit Helps Him Climb Out


Photo Credit: Cory Richards

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In 2011, Cory Richards felt his life dissolve.

The details: He had just reached the summit of Gasherbrum II, the 13th highest mountain in the world, and was the first American to climb an 8,000-meter peak in the dead of winter. On the way down, Richard’s life flashed before his eyes as an avalanche hit him and his team. He dug himself out of the snow and lived to tell the story of his near-death experience. His name was put on the map as “Adventurer to Watch”. But behind closed doors, Richards suffered from extreme PTSD and gave up his training to a mind gripped by fear.

  • “Being the figurehead for adventure and expedition and still being a terrible athlete is a dichotomy.” he said.
  • For the next three years Richard’s career as a photographer and climber exploded, but he struggled to keep control of his personal life, which in large part included his motivation to keep exercising.

Photo Credit: Cory Richards

Expedition Everest: In 2016, an expedition to Mount Everest pulled him out of the fitness slump, forcing him to train hard to rebuild the aerobic engine he’d given up for so long. Richards slowly began regaining his fitness base for the next three years, but it was slow and inadequate. He had to find a way to climb out of the fitness plateau. Then he found CrossFit.

  • “I understood that there was information on this plateau and that information pointed me to what I had neglected in my fitness all my life, ”he said

A big thing: Richards avoided joining a CrossFit box because he feared he would be the worst in the room. But he knew he had to branch off from what he felt most comfortable with, his engine. As soon as he joined, everything turned around.

  • “Like so many people Anyone who dedicated their life to a particular craft had a massive ego when it came to fitness, ”he said. “Going into a strange, uncomfortable room where I would be bad was terrible for me.
  • In 2019 Richards took a leap of faith and took part in the base camp program at CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado. In the past nine months, he’s built strength he never realized he lacked. As a climber, core strength is essential, but he couldn’t achieve it through the training he did before CrossFit.
  • Richards also attributes an increase in mental hardship on the high-intensity aspect of CrossFit workouts. A certain level of pain and endurance is critical to the success of his mountaineering expeditions.
  • “It’s not just about running If you keep pedaling, sometimes it comes down to sitting in terrible conditions when you are severely dehydrated, ”he said.

Photo Credit: Cory Richards

The bottom line: It’s not always about what an athlete can do best, but rather what an athlete can do worst. Richards based his entire career on aerobic training, unaware of how much potential was lost in avoiding variation in movements.

  • “There is a lot of information afraid of being bad at something, ”he said. “All of this can be used for your own development if you are just brave enough to deal with it.”

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