Mick Fowler: the unfailing passion for mountaineering

Mick Fowler at the Weisshorn, 2020 ©Coll. Mick Fowler

A fearsome cancer to fight, and an expedition to the Pamir this summer with fellow Englishman Simon Yates that nearly went horribly wrong: in recent years, life has not spared Mick Fowler, now 67. Known as one of the great mountaineers of the modern era, we wondered how the man coped with his illness, and whether in Tajikistan, the climber awarded three Piolets d’Or had crossed certain limits. Fowler’s spirit and answers in this unfiltered interview.

With Victor Saunders in the autumn of 2016, English mountaineer Mick Fowler once again succeeded in climbing a virgin peak: Sersank (6,050 m) in the Indian Himalayas. The two partners, famous since their first ascent of the Golden Pillar at Spantik (7,028 m, Pakistan) in 1987, opened up the 1,100 metres of the north pillar before descending the summit via the south and west faces. It was a technical and challenging 8-day round trip, just like Fowler and his fellow adventurers had been doing for more than three decades.

Fowler is alpine style or nothing, and 3 of his ascents of this kind, with Paul Ramsden, have been honoured with a golden ice axe: the first ascent of the north face of Siguniang (6,250 m, China, 2002), that of the Shiva’s Prow (6,142 m, India, 2012), and the first ascent of the Gave Ding (6,571 m, Nepal, 2015).

The Fowler/Saunders North Pillar at Sersank (6050 m, India), 2016. ©Mick Fowler coll.

Mick Fowler in the steep mixed ground of the Sersank ©Coll.