Tap Richards is 25 years old and lives in Ashford, Washington. This is Richards' first Everest expedition, though he climbed the 26,900-foot Cho Oyu in 1996. Richards started rock climbing when he was 15 and became a mountain guide seven years ago. His guiding has taken him to Mt Rainier, Mt McKinley, South America, Mexico, and the Himalayas.
NOVA: Do you think Mallory and Irvine could have made it to the summit?
RICHARDS: I believe they perished before they reached the summit. I believe
Irvine turned around, with Mallory making a gallant solo effort near the summit, and
perhaps falling while climbing the Second Step or while trying to skirt around it.
From what I know of the Second Step, I don't think they could have climbed it, due
to their limited oxygen supply. Also, attempting it as a soloist—it would've
been more difficult without having someone there to belay.
On this trip I'm hoping to get up to the Second Step. I'm looking forward to watching
Conrad attempt to free climb
it, and if it's a good day I'll try to follow. But if not, I'll hop on that ladder
in a second.