BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Boulder-based photographer and climber for National Geographic had to be airlifted off of Mount Everest for fear he was suffering from pulmonary embolism or a blood clot in the lungs.

The incident happened on Saturday while he was on assignment with other climbers and photographers for National Geographic.

Cory Richards was at 23,000 feet — more than 5,000 feet from the summit — when he started having major breathing problems.

After hiking down to a lower elevation, the crew he was with got him a helicopter which then flew him a nearby medical center in Lukia. He then went on to a hospital in Kathmandu, the capitol of Nepal.

Richards is renowned for his adventurous spirit. He was climbing Mount Everest for the first time as part of a National Geographic and North Face expedition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Ascent of Everest.

Once doctors determined that he didn’t have a blot clot in the lung, Richards was already feeling better and ready to get back onto the mountain, which he plans to do before he returns to Colorado after the first week in June.

Richards was the first American to reach the summit of a peak higher than 8,000 meters in the winter.


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