A lot of times, when Cory Richards heads out on a The North Face expedition, he's expected to climb a little and shoot a lot of photographs.
For The North Face athlete and professional photographer, life is about balance. For him in particular, it's about balancing when to climb with when to shoot. Sometimes, it's a precarious act.
"It's about learning to curb your enthusiasm for being an athlete when it's time to shoot and vice-versa - when it's time to charge," Richards said, adding, "When you're trying to do both, one inevitably falls second. It all has to do with balance."
Richards comes to Breckenridge Saturday for the annual Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series at the Riverwalk Center. The free talk starts at 7 p.m. and is preceded by a $20 VIP reception slated for 5:30 at The North Face store in Breckenridge to benefit the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center. The BOEC strives to provide outdoor experiences for people with disabilities and to train instructors who work with special populations.
Richards was most recently climbing and shooting on the 1,000-foot limestone walls on the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. He was psyched to climb alongside his teammates - until he realized he also needed to shoot.
Saturday's talk is titled "Both Sides of the Lens," and features Richards' thoughts on the balancing act he endures from day to day. It will also feature his National Geographic-caliber photographs.
At the same time Richards focuses on balance - which can reach in so many philosophic directions - Richards also wants to emphasize to audiences that there's a human element in everything The North Face team does.
"So often, athletes get put on a pedestal somehow. People think we're super human to be doing these things," he said. "We all have good days. We all have bad days."
One of Richards' most recent "bad days" was on an Everest expedition. Richards' resume includes a successful ascent of Pakistan's Gasherbrum II, the world's 13th tallest peak, in blizzards. It also includes Lhotse, another 8,000-meter giant and other steep Nepalese peaks. But on Everest, in a highly publicized expedition, Richards left the mountain defeated by illness.
"I got b**ch-slapped by the powers that be with the whole world watching," Richards said. "When you're having a bad day and you're being watched by the whole world, everybody knows it."
Richards wants the Breckenridge audience to understand that in every situation, the vulnerable nature of humanity is evident, be it in a minor or major way.
"It's an exercise in seeing if we can do it, and in finding out who we really are," he said.
Which comes full-circle to the idea of balance.
"If we're out of balance, we're unable to achieve our full potential," he said. "For me, it's about putting one down to excel in the other."
Though the event is free, tickets are required for entry. Secure tickets online at www.thenorth
face.com/speakerseries. Guaranteed seating for the event can be purchased for $8. The $20 VIP reception includes preferred seating, a meet-and-greet with Richards and beer, wine and light food.
The Breckenridge event is part of the nationwide The North Face Never Stop Exploring Speaker Series, running from Sept.. 4 to Nov. 15 and presented by GORE-Tex and sponsored by Primaloft and Outside.