Photo © Victor Saunders/Mick Fowler
Victor Sanders and Mick Fowler made their name as a climbing duo in the 1980s with a series of eye-catching first ascents. Their pioneering ascent of Shield Direct on Ben Nevis was the first climb to rank VI on the Scottish grading system, while their last expedition together, all the way back in 1987, saw them become the first to scale the imposing Golden Pillar of Spantik.
Working with French mountaineer and interpreter Eric Vola to merge sections of their individual climbing memoirs into the poetically-named “Les Tribulations de Mick et Vic”, winner of the Grand Prix prize at the Passy Book Festival, appears to have rekindled the spirit of another era. Mick and Vic decided to head to the Himalayas together once again, this time to tackle the previously unclimbed North Buttress of Sersank, a 6100 metre peak they climbed together three decades ago.
“Working with Eric on the book brought Vic and me back together again and reminded us that we haven’t climbed as a team for far too long,” Mick said. “That sowed the seeds for this year’s Himalayan reunion trip and we are both looking forward to this latest adventure with great anticipation. Attempting a first ascent in a remote location with an old friend – what’s not to get excited about?”
Berghaus offered support to the expedition and Mick wrote an article for their website prior to departure, outlining a plan for the expedition.
Acclimatisation is the first issue all Himalayan climbers must address. “Climb high, sleep low” is Mick’s summary of his approach to acclimatisation. Since Serkank’s base camp is around 4,200 metres, 2000 metres short of the summit, Mick and Vic’s plan for a ten day assault on the mountain included spending several days ascending another 1,000 metres or so and sleeping at heights of up to 5,100 metres.
By the time the pair descend to base camp again breathing at that height “should feel ridiculously easy and relaxing,” allowing their bodies to recover in preparation for their push to the summit.
The brief message Fowler and Saunders sent Berghaus announcing their conquest of the Sersank’s North Buttress suggests that things went more or less according to plan. “Five days to climb the North Buttress and an eight day round trip from base camp. Absolutely brilliant” the pair wrote.
Congratulations to Mick and Vic, another first ascent on a technically challenging, high-altitude route.