Michael Fowler (born 1956) is an award-winning British mountaineer and author.
He was voted the "Mountaineers' Mountaineer" in a poll in The Observer, and with Paul Ramsden, won the 2002 Piolet d'Or and Golden Piton awards for their ascent of 6,250-metre (20,510 ft) Mount Siguniang in the Qionglai Mountains in the Sichuan Province of China. In 2012, he was awarded the King Albert award for his "outstanding contribution to mountaineering", and in 2013, he and Paul Ramsden became the first pair to win a Piolet d'Or award twice after their ascent of the 6,142-metre (20,151 ft) Prow of Shiva in the Indian Himalayas. Paul Ramsden and Mick Fowler received the Piolet d’Or for a third time in 2016 for their ascent of Gave Ding, 6,571-meter (Nepal).
He was introduced to rock climbing and mountaineering as a teenager by his widowed father George, who took him to the Alps in 1969 at the age of 13. In the 1980s, he was regarded as the driving force behind a group of London climbers who would regularly drive to the north of Scotland, a round trip of 1,300 miles, for winter weekends. His record was 11 consecutive weekends.
He was one of the first people to rock climb at the E6 grade of difficulty (Linden Route, Eliminates Wall, Curbar Edge; 1976) and winter climb at grade VI (Central Icefall Direct, Craig y Rhaeadr, Llanberis Pass; 1979). He is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of adventurous rock climbs on sea cliffs and sea stacks, and for the use of ice-climbing techniques on the soft chalk cliffs of England's southeast coast.
Career, writing, and family
Fowler served as president of the Alpine Club from 2011 to 2013 after winning the first contested election in the organisation's 150-year history.
Since 1977, he has worked full-time for HM Revenue and Customs, where he holds the position of Assistant Director, Shares and Assets Valuation. Since 2008, he has also worked with the outdoor company Berghaus.
Fowler has written two volumes of memoirs, both of which were shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. He won the Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature at the 2005 Banff Mountain Book Festival and the best book prize at the Bormio Mountain Festival (Italy) in 2012.
He currently lives in Derbyshire with his wife Nicola and their two children, Tessa and Alec.
Rock and ice climbs (first ascents)
Conventional rock climbs:
- Linden (E6) in 1976 at Curbar Edge in Derbyshire (as one of the first E6 climbs in Britain this received extensive press coverage)
- Stone (E5) in the Hebrides
- Ludwig (E6) at Gogarth
- Stairway to Heaven (E5) on Skye
- Caveman (E6) in Devon
- Henna (450 ft, XS) and Bukator (600 ft, XS) on the North Devon/Cornwall coast
- Monster Crack (500 ft, XS) (first free ascent of the chalk cliffs at Beachy Head)
- Skeleton Ridge (HVS) on the Isle of Wight
- Clo Mhor Crack (E3) (the only route on the biggest cliffs in mainland Britain, at Cape Wrath in Scotland)
- BeriBeri (E4), on the Isle of Hoy
- Big John (E4), on Hoy (the first one-day ascent of the biggest sea cliff in Britain)
- Great White Fright (VI), Dover
- Branaunmore (Ireland)
- Lovers Leap Rock (Ireland)
- Doonbristy (Ireland)
- The Needle (Hoy)
- Spindle (Shetland)
- Clett Rock (Thurso)
- Old Harry, The Tusk and Press Gang Pinnacle (Swanage)
- The Knee (Duncansby Head)
- The Fly Direct (VI) on Creag Meagaidh
- Gully of the Gods (V) in Applecross
- The Shield Direct (VI) on Ben Nevis (the first Scottish winter route to be given a guidebook rating of VI)
- West Central Gully (VII) Torridon
- Deep Gash Gully (VI) on Skye
- Cascade (V) and Central Ice-fall Direct (VI on Craig Rhaeddr, North Wales)
- A 65-foot (20 m) ice streak created by a leaking toilet outflow at St. Pancras station
- 1982 Taulliraju (Peru), South Face, with Chris Watts
- 1983 Killimanjaro, Western Gully, with Caradog Jones
- 1986 West Face Direct of Ushba (Caucasus Mountains) with Victor Saunders
- 1987 Golden Pillar of Spantik (Pakistan) with Victor Saunders
- 1991 Hunza Peak and Bublimoting (Pakistan) with Caradog Jones
- 1993 NW Face Kishtwar Kailash (India) with Steve Sustad
- 1995 Taweche (Nepal), NE Pillar, with Pat Littlejohn
- 1997 North Face of Changabang in the Garhwal Himalaya of Uttarakhand, India. First Ascent with Brendan Murphy and Andy Cave (summit); with Fowler and Steve Sustad climbing to the summit ridge. Murphy was hit by an avalanche and swept off the face to his death on the descent.
- 1999 Arwa Tower (India), NW Face, with Steve Sustad
- 2000 Mount Kennedy (Yukon), N Buttress, with Andy Cave
- 2002 Mount Siguniang (Sichuan), NW Face, with Paul Ramsden
- 2005 Kajaqiao (Tibet), with Chris Watts
- 2007 Manamcho (Tibet) with Paul Ramsden
- 2010 Sulamar North Face (Xinjiang) with Paul Ramsden
- 2011 Mugu Chuli West Face (West Nepal) with Dave Turnbull
- 2012 Prow of Shiva (India) with Paul Ramsden
- 2013 Kishtwar Kailash West Face (India) with Paul Ramsden
- 2014 NW Face Hagshu (India) with Paul Ramsden
- 2016 North Face of Sersank (India) with Victor Saunders
- King Albert Mountain Award, 2012