'If we were guaranteed success in everything we tried then life would be pretty boring.' Mainstream news reports about climbing are dominated by action from the world's highest mountains, more often than not focusing on tragedy and controversy. Far removed from this high-altitude circus, a group of visionary and specialist mountaineers are seeking out eye-catching objectives in the most remote corners of the greater ranges and attempting first ascents in lightweight style. Mick Fowler is the master of the small and remote Himalayan expedition. He has been at the forefront of this pioneering approach to alpinism for over thirty years, balancing his family life, a full-time job at the tax office and his annual trips to the greater ranges in order to attempt mountains that may never have been seen before by Westerners, let alone climbed by them. In No Easy Way, his third volume of climbing memoirs following Vertical Pleasure and On Thin Ice, Fowler recounts a series of expeditions to stunning mountains in China, India, Nepal and Tibet. Alongside partners including Paul Ramsden, Dave Turnbull, Andy Cave and Victor Saunders, he attempts striking, technically challenging unclimbed lines on Shiva, Gave Ding and Mugu Chuli - with a number of ascents winning prestigious Piolets d'Or, the Oscars of the mountaineering world. Written with his customary dry wit and understatement, he manages challenges away - the art of securing a permit for Tibet - and at home - his duties as Alpine Club president - all the while pursuing his passion for exploratory mountaineering.
Mick Fowler was introduced to climbing in the French and Swiss Alps when he was thirteen by his father and soon developed an unstoppable enthusiasm for the sport. Every weekend through the winter climbing season he would make the long drive from London to tackle new winter routes in the Scottish Highlands, always managing to be back behind his desk in the tax office on Monday morning. His dedication paid off. Fowler became one the UK’s foremost mountaineers, putting up new routes in most fields of climbing, with first ascents of gritstone E5s, remote sea stacks and the frozen drainpipes of London St Pancras to his name. Along the way, he helped to develop a whole new style of climbing on the chalk cliffs of Dover. But it is for mountaineering that Fowler is best known. A former president of the Alpine Club, he has made challenging climbs across the globe, earning him three prestigious Piolets d’Or – the Oscars of the mountaineering world – and the title of ‘Mountaineer’s Mountaineer’ in a poll in The Observer. Remarkably, his climbing has taken place alongside a full-time job at the tax office,
squeezing major mountaineering objectives into his holidays and earning him another title – ‘Britain’s hardest-climbing tax collector’. He retired from life as a taxman in 2017 but his enthusiasm for exploratory climbing remains undimmed.