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Focus

Nov 20, 2013

Alpinists Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden the first to summit Kishtwar Kailash

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WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

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Having set their eyes on this massif in 1993, their ten-year climbing partnership brought them back 20 years later to see it through till the summit

Named after the politically unstable district of Kishtwar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, northern India, Kishtwar Kailash (6,451 mts / 21,165 ft) remained shut for mountaineers from 1994 until last year. Fowler and Ramsden summited the untouched peak in October this year, becoming the first people to climb the highest mountain in the East Kishtwar region of the Himalayas. They took the south west face of the mountain en route the peak.

The Outdoor Journal requested Fowler for an interview and this is what he had to say over email about the memorable first ascent:

TOJ: Your description of your Kishtwar Kailash FA in Alpinist is typically understated; however, how does it compare to your Piolet d’Or winning ascent of Shiva?

Mick: Both were really enjoyable climbs. Shiva was a wonderful line with very nice, sustained mixed climbing to a summit that had been visited several times before. Kailash was less sustained and more varied with a beautiful ice couloir section and an unclimbed summit. We had an equally great time on both of them.

TOJ: Both you and Paul have gone climbing all over the world. What’s so special about this area and about Kishtwar Kailash?

Mick: India is particularly attractive at the moment because the team at www.above14000ft.com are a pleasure to work with – direct flights from London to Delhi are relatively cheap and they come with a 46kg baggage allowance. Paul and I only go mountain climbing once a year. So, we spend a lot of time choosing our objective. It’s the objective that dictates where we go really. The Kishtwar area is very attractive as it has steep and spectacular peaks with good lines and the right altitude for a four week trip. But variety is important too and we like to go to different places. All suggestions are welcome!

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Image © Mick Fowler

TOJ: How do you manage a work / life balance, especially since you’re a full-time government employee? Isn’t it tough to be a high-level climber with a full-time non-climbing job and other responsibilities?

Mick: With great difficulty! There is no secret formula that I have found. Life is a continuous time juggling exercise with me always fretting that I am not spending enough time on my family or my climbing or tax work or Berghaus or the Alpine Club. But it certainly keeps me busy and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

TOJ:  Mick, you have been in the limelight for so many years, but what’s Paul’s story – why don’t we get to hear about him much?

Mick: Paul is a full time Health & Safety Adviser who now lives in Nottingham but is originally from Yorkshire. He is 13 years younger to me but we make a good climbing partnership, albeit with me getting older and weaker! He tends to focus on his work and family but has written the occasional mountaineering article and gives the occasional lecture.

TOJ: You have been climbing together for years and partnerships in sports is nothing new but could you define what makes a good mountaineering companion? What makes this partnership special?

Mick: Being a successful mountaineer is more about willpower, determination and being comfortable in the mountains than being able to operate at the highest technical level. Paul and I both enjoy spending time in the mountains. We trust each other and in over 10 years of climbing in the greater ranges I can’t recall any serious disagreements. In particular, when the weather has been bad or something else has been wrong we’ve always readily agreed on whether to continue or retreat.

Place: New Delhi, India


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