Mick Fowler, left, and Vic Saunders on Chungukang North. Photo: Berghaus

Mick Fowler, left, and Vic Saunders on Chungukang North. Photo: Berghaus

An award-winning mountaineer is returning to the Himalaya in an attempt at the first high-altitude summit while using a colostomy.

Mick Fowler and his climbing partner Vic Saunders were thwarted earlier in the year when severe weather curtailed their expedition.

The pair plan to attempt the ascent of the unclimbed 6,000m peak shortly.

As well as clothing and equipment from expedition sponsor Berghaus, Fowler will also find out whether a colostomy bag will perform during an extended stay at high altitude and in extreme weather conditions.

Mick Fowler, 63, is a three-time Piolet D’Or winner and known around the world for completing first ascents of routes on technically challenging peaks between 6,000m and 7,000m. Almost 30 years after they last climbed together, he and Vic Saunders teamed up in 2016 to achieve a first ascent on the north face of Sersank in the Indian Himalaya.

Keen to continue the reunion, they agreed to attempt another striking 6,000m peak in 2017, but Fowler was diagnosed with cancer and underwent extensive treatment, involving an ostomy, a procedure to re-direct the bowel to an exit through an opening in the abdomen wall.

After regaining his fitness, the Peak District-based mountaineer, known as the climbing taxman because of his job with HM Revenue and Customs, was able to link up with Saunders for an expedition earlier this year, but they were forced to abandon their attempt on an unclimbed Himalayan peak due to bad weather and dangerous conditions on the mountain.

The two mountaineers load up before setting off on the expedition

The two mountaineers load up before setting off on the expedition

Mick Fowler said: “We have identified a fantastic objective that Victor and I have had in mind for some time.

“It is a spectacular Matterhorn-like peak which is unclimbed and looks to be challenging from all sides. It will no doubt provide a pleasingly difficult climb and the perfect high-altitude testing ground for our Berghaus kit and my colostomy bag.

“After being out of action for so long, being forced to abandon our attempt earlier this year was very frustrating. My experience from our short time on the mountain back then suggested that everything we take will perform well in all conditions – I relish the opportunity to find out for certain.”

The pair left the UK on 22 September and anticipate that their alpine-style climb will take place in the first half of October, with the two men returning to the UK later in the month.

Mick Fowler and Vic Saunders were regular climbing partners in the 1980s when both men lived in London. They became well known in mountaineering circles for completing many challenging Scottish winter routes, including Shield Direct on Ben Nevis, which was the first to be graded VI in a Scottish guide book.

Fowler and Saunders also explored the Himalaya and their last climb together before they went their separate ways was the first ascent of the Golden Pillar of Spantik in Pakistan in 1987.

After the publication of Les Tribulations de Mick et Vic by Les Editions du Mont-Blanc in France in 2015, Fowler and Saunders decided to team up again, resulting in the successful trip to Sersank in 2016.

The third volume of Mick Fowler’s climbing memoirs, No Easy Way, was published in December 2018, and is in the running to win two major mountain literature awards, the Boardman Tasker Award in the UK, and the Jon Whyte Award for Mountain Literature at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada.

Full details of the expedition will be posted on the Berghaus website.

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