Mick Fowler, b. 1956, Great Britain
Without doubt he’s the finest mixed climber I’ve ever climbed with. He’s got this wonderful ability to rock climb and has a good nose for protection; he can find runners where you think there are none. But his great strength is being able to laugh when he’s frightened. That’s something I learned from him and it changed the way I look at climbing.
Experience and determination are probably the two key factors which dictate success or failure in the greater ranges.
Alpine-style climbs outside Europe
Manamcho 6264 m, Nyainqentanglha East Range, Tibet, first ascent via west face, with Paul Ramsden
Kajaqiao (a.k.a. Chachacho) 6447m, Nyainqentanglha East Range, Tibet, west face and northwest ridge, TD, 1100m, first ascent of the mountain, with Chris Watts
After I’d fought nearly two years of bureaucratic challenges to get to the mountain, its name, its spelling, even its pronunciation (“Chachacho”) rolled easily off my tongue. The literal translation “Hands-Held-Together-in-Prayer-for-God Peak – summed up the mountain’s distinctive shape and beauty. From the moment Chris Watts and I had seen its photograph in the Japanese Alpine News, we’d felt an irrepressible urge to reach its summit.
Mt. Grosvenor 6367m, Sichuan, China, attempt on the northwest face, with Andy Cave
Siguniang 6250m, Sichuan, China, north face, ED sup. 1500m, with Paul Ramsden
THE CLIMB WAS AWARDED PIOLET D’OR AND CLIMBING’S MAGAZINE GOLDEN PITON
It had been a memorable climb up one of the most stunning features I have ever seen in the mountains.
Peak 43, Nepal Himalaya, attempt, with Paul Ramsden
Mt. Kennedy, Canada, North Buttress, first alpine-style ascent, with Andy Cave
Arwa Tower 6352m, Garhwal Himalaya, The Northwest Face (VI 5b A3 Scottish V/VI, 1000m), first ascent of the mountain, with Steve Sustad
Siula Chico 6265m, Cordillera Huayhuash, west face, attempt, with Simon Yates
Climbing is like that, a balance of judgment, ability and endurance. If we had continued we might have got up, but then we might have ended up in a worse state than Joe [Simpson]. We will never know. But success every time implies that one’s objectives are not challenging enough. We enjoyed ourselves and lived to climb another day. These are really important things.
Changabang 6864m, The North Face, new route, with Steve Sustad, Fowler and Sustad climbed the route to the summit ridge, the line was also climbed by Andy Cave and Brendan Murphy who reached the summit, Murphy was killed descending the mountain
Was it worth it? In bald terms the answer has to be of course not; nothing is worth the life of a friend. I have looked into the eyes of his loved ones and seen their grief. But Brendan died doing what he loved. He knew well the risks and balanced them against the rewards. Making the first ascent of Changabang’s North Face was his first major success and if he was alive today I know we would still be toasting the good times and shared hardship in what was, for all of us, the adventure of a lifetime.