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Tap Richards Q&A Part 1, 2 & 3

Tap Richards lead guide on the International Mountain Guides Cho Oyu 2000 Expedition

Q.) Ed Hillary, and others have been very negative on the publishing of the pictures of Mallory. Was it a mistake ?

A.) [Tap Richards] The publishing of the pictures of Mallory has been controversial and even complicated at times.  We do have a responsibility to report our discovery accurately and thoroughly.  As this great mystery of Mallory and Irvine is more than just a story or historic event, it's of utmost importance not to withhold information about our findings.  Death is obviously not pleasant, but it is something that we can ALL count on happening to us, our loved ones and our friends.  I believe that our society can only benefit from confronting it, rather than harboring it and not understanding it. 

Q.) What do you do for a living ? 

A.) [Tap Richards] I've been working as a climbing guide for the past eight years. I first started guiding on Mt. Rainier and now do several international trips, as well. 

Q.) What is it like being a guide on a 8000 meter expedition ?

A.) [Tap Richards] If you don't have a wife or significant other or at least plan on still having one after the expedition, and don't mind taking five years off your life in two months time, and don't mind spending the following week of the expedition starring at a white wall - I think it's great.  No really, Guiding an 8000m. peak can be very rewarding and is something I've really enjoyed.  The camaraderie that is associated with a successful climb is a big part of climbing for me.  I love to see people succeed and to be a part of their obtaining goals.  High altitude is a risk that everyone must accept in attempting a high mountain.  We always try and minimize those risks by acclimatizing well and climbing together as a team.  Otherwise, the same rules we adhere to on any other climb are the same rules in the Himalaya.

Q.) Was there too many people on Cho Oyu this Autumn?

A.) [Tap Richards] Cho Oyu is seeing more and more traffic and I don't see that changing any time soon.  This past Autumn, 23 expeditions attempted the mountain.  It is looking more and more like a Mt. McKinley.  The two main differences: By the time you reach high camp on Cho Oyu, 50% of the climbers have turned around.  Second, it's not a Denali National Park, where strict rules and a well thought out system keeps the mountain clean.  The base camp is dirty and most expeditions do not make the effort to clean up; the climbers need to be pro-active in cleaning up the mountain. 

Q.) Who are your heroes ?

A.) [Tap Richards] Marlyn Manson and Thomas Edison

Q.) What would you recommend for someone with little talent, but with the dream of climbing Everest ?  

A.) [Tap Richards] I can certainly understand why people would like to stand on the highest point on Earth and I'd be a hypocrite to say that is foolish, but I do think it is amazing how attached people are to Everest. The earth is laden with incredible places of natural wonder, awe inspiring beauty - all of which have amazing history.  I've always had incredible experiences in the desert, at the ocean, and in the mountains. Those places aren't for everybody, that is where I feel most alive.  It doesn't have to be Mt. Everest.  If you're mind is set on Everest, go climb some other small peaks first, then work your way towards the big one.

Q.) Hi Tap, You had a good look at the 2nd Step last year, and I was wondering if you believe it was possible for Mallory & Irvine to have stayed on the ridge instead of traversing below like expeditions do today. I've read that the Chinese first attempted the 2nd Step in this manner, but were turned back by the "steep prow" above. I also read in an expedition dispatch last year that during your summit attempt Conrad and Simo had a radio conversation discussing staying on the ridge, but that Conrad thought it looked too difficult. In your opinion is it possible to stay on the ridge and then traverse from the point where the ridge meets the step to the little snowpatch below the final headwall?

A.) [Tap Richards] I don't feel like I can give an honest assessment of this part of the route, as I haven't climbed it.  I do believe that Mallory and Irvine could have made the summit.

Q.) Do you think Sandy Irvine might be found in the anticipated location west of the Chinese 1960 camp 6,  or do you agree with the logic that he might lies along Mallory's fall line?

A.) [Tap Richards] These two locations are almost the same.

Q.) Was there other artifacts found that were not reported ?

A.) NO!

Several more questions have been submitted to Tap....

Part 3:

Part 3:

Q.) Tap,  there seems to a consensus among Everest researchers and buffs alike that that the mystery of Mallory & Irvine can only be solved if the Kodak vestpocket camera is found. Because the camera wasn't found with George Mallory last year many feel certain that it must be in Irvine's possession. I find this outlook to be a bit optimistic. It would seem equally possible that Mallory's camera became dislodged during his fatal fall. If so, then there would exist a strong possibility that is lies somewhere along Mallory's fall line. Are there any plans to search the fall line when the team next returns to continue the research effort?

A.) [Tap Richards] I wouldn't say that it's "equally" possibility that the camera was dislodged in Mallory's fall.  I see it more viable to speculating that Irvine could have ended up carrying the camera. It would be remarkable to find the camera, and even more so, to find an well-preserved image of the two standing on the summit.  Although, it's not the only thing that might tell if the two stood on top.  At this point, I'm thinking of a return trip to the N. side of Everest as an opportunity to search, on a broad scale, for any evidence of the early British expeditions.  Ever since we found ourselves standing around the body of George Mallory, I've felt a certain sense of obligation to return and learn as much as possible about what happened to Mallory and Irvine.

Q.) How did the other expeditions react to Mallory being found when you were on the mountain?

A.) [Tap Richards] At the time of the discovery and in the following days, we did share our story with many other teams on the mountain.  Several other climbers were intrigued to hear about what we had found and most were very positive and generally supportive.   

Q.) Did anyone discuss looking for Wang? Any ideas where he might be?

A.) [Tap Richards] I don't see how finding Wang would provide any pertinent information for the Mallory/Irvine story.  We did see other bodies while searching - I didn't see any reason to get involved with them or get any closer than necessary.

Q.) Have you heard the rumors that "some" people think they know where Irvine is ?

A.) [Tap Richards] There's lots of people that have ideas as to what may have happened to M&I.  I don't think anyone knows exactly where Irvine is. 

Q.) Do you think Irvine body should be photographed ?

A.) [Tap Richards] As we learned in 1999, you just never know what you might find up there.  One of the biggest reasons we conduct research and report on such discoveries is to fill in the gaps with accurate information.  A tactfully taken photographic image can greatly aid in accomplishing just that.   

Q.) What are your views on the commercialization that has been taking place on the mountain?  (The commercial guiding companies, media attention, live broadcasts/webcasts)

A.) [Tap Richards] I'm continually amazed at the amount of attention Everest gets.  Having a national bestseller, with stories of what can go wrong up there, explains much of that; as does the large increase of interest in the adventure travel business.   

Q.) Do you think the media attention some climbers get gives others the wrong impression about climbing Everest?  (i.e.  It is easier than it really is...?)

A.) [Tap Richards] I think it's a doubled edged sword.  I'm amazed when world renown climbers refer to Everest as a slog or a dog-route.  In the same breath, I'm amazed how people will fabricate the whole Everest experience to be a thrill-seeking, nail-biting, stunt.  There's always risks involved, (not so different from the things we expose ourselves to on an everyday basis - I'm talking about driving down the highway, or participating in other sports).  There are more days where you expose yourself to the bid catastrophic dangers, that seldom take place.  The number of days where you're really hanging it out there, are few.  More than anything, it simply requires your attention and good planning.

Q.) By paying $40,000-$70,000 to be guided up Everest, do you think guides feel an obligation to their clients to get them to the top no matter what?

A.) [Tap Richards] There's a million different ways to skin the cat, and it is hard to forecast how a summit day will pan out.  Foremost, on day one of any expedition, we communicate the responsibilities of the guides and the clients.  In most situations, we've climbed with these people before and have already developed a relationship with mutually understandings.  All of the guides I've worked with on these Himalayan climbs are good friends, we've worked together on other mountains and we're reading from the same page.  If an individual is hiring a guide and isn't willing to accept the guides decision to set safety parameters, that person should not hire a guide.  Problems seem to arise when guides and clients don't set realistic expectations.  

Tap Richards lead guide on the International Mountain Guides Cho Oyu 2000 Expedition

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