On Thin Ice

Alpine Climbs in the Americas, Asia and the Himalaya

Author: Mick Fowler Sir Chris Bonington

Series title:

Hardback publication date: 01 Jul 2005

Hardback ISBN: 9781898573586

SHORTLISTED: Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2005

The second volume of Mick Fowler's autobiography, On Thin Ice covers his alpine climbs in the Americas and Asia, and the Himalayan challenges attempted while holding down a nine-to-five job and raising a family. A combination of exotic travel with major ascents provide the reader with the ultimate adrenalin-soaked 'holiday experience'!

On Thin Ice is Mick Fowler’s second set of climbing memoirs, following Vertical Pleasure. Here, the celebrated mountaineer records his expeditions since 1990 where, despite work and family commitments, he maintained a regular series of ‘big trips’ to challenging objectives around the world with a sequence of major successes. The combination of exotic travel with major climbs provides the ultimate adrenalin-soaked holiday experience that Mick Fowler has mastered to the full. We are transported from the cliffs of Jordan to remote peaks in deepest Asia via Taweche and Changabang in the Himalaya, with jaunts to the Andes and Alaska thrown in for good measure. That Fowler has organised this routine for years, while holding down a conventional nine-to-five job with the Inland Revenue, has constantly amazed his peers. In this, his second book, he has also mastered the skills of amusing travel-writing to entertain us as a preliminary to the finale of a titanic struggle on each of his fiendishly demanding climbs. His ascent of Siguniang in 2002, with Paul Ramsden featured hard ice climbing on a fabulous face in deepest China and was so admired by the international climbing community that it won the US Golden Piton and the French Piolets d’Or, both awards given for the finest alpine achievements in the world during that year. Fowler describes his travels in the great traditions, with engaging modesty and wit, but the climbs themselves are frequently so dramatic that the anxiety and tension forces its way to the surface to be matched by a corresponding relief and triumph when success and safe descent is achieved.

Mick Fowler was introduced to climbing in the Swiss and French Alps by his father when he was thirteen 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 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 develop a whole new style of climbing on the chalk cliffs of Dover. But it is for mountaineering that Fowler is best known. He has made ‘challenging’ climbs across the world, earning him the prestigious Piolet d’Or 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.’

Born in 1934, Chris Bonington – mountaineer, writer, photographer and lecturer – started climbing at the age of sixteen in 1951. It has been his passion ever since. He made the first British ascent of the north face of the Eiger and led the expedition that made the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna, the biggest and most difficult climb in the Himalaya at the time. He went on to lead the expedition that made the first ascent of the south-west face of Everest in 1975, when Doug Scott and Dougal Haston became the first Britons to summit, and he reached the summit of Everest himself in 1985 with a Norwegian expedition. He has written seventeen books, fronted numerous television programmes and has lectured to the public and corporate audiences all over the world. He received a knighthood in 1996 for services to mountaineering, was president of the Council for National Parks for eight years, and is the non-executive chairman of Berghaus and a chancellor of Lancaster University.

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