One of the UK’s most successful mountaineers is preparing for the first major Himalayan expedition to be led by colostomy bag user, Mick Fowler.
In his first major trip since treatment for cancer, Berghaus Athlete – Mick, will set out at the end of March to attempt an unclimbed 6,000m peak with his climbing partner Vic Saunders. As well as clothing and equipment from expedition sponsor Berghaus, Mick will also help medical company Coloplast to find out whether a colostomy bag will perform at high altitude and in extreme weather conditions. Mick intends to prove that having to use the bag will not stop him, or anyone else, from embarking on ambitious adventures to remote places.
Mick Fowler, 62, is known around the world for completing first ascents of routes on technically challenging peaks between 6000m and 7000m and is a veteran of many successful expeditions. Almost 30 years after they last climbed together, Mick 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 Mick was diagnosed with cancer and has since undergone extensive treatment, involving an ostomy (a procedure to re-direct the bowel to an exit through an opening in the abdomen wall). Mick has now rebuilt his fitness, while also addressing how he can continue to embark on Himalayan expeditions with the additional challenge of needing to use a colostomy bag.
Mick Fowler comments: “My cancer diagnosis was an unwelcome interruption to plans and there were times during my treatment when I doubted whether I would be able to return to the Himalaya. So, I am looking forward to this trip with even more anticipation than usual. Vic and I are grateful to the team at Berghaus, who have continued to support us through a challenging year and a half, and we look forward to putting some great kit through its paces once again and tackling a very urge-giving unclimbed mountain.
This trip involves the added dimension of me now being an ostomate and I am working with Coloplast to find a solution to the ‘colostomy bag at altitude’ conundrum. I hope that any feedback that I bring back will help other mountaineers who need to use this kind of kit to continue their climbing adventures too.”
Mick Fowler and Vic Saunders will leave the UK at the end of March and anticipate that their alpine style climb will take place during the second week of April, with the two men returning to the UK at the end of the month. They will both use the latest kit from the Berghaus Extrem collection and Mick will use colostomy products supplied by Coloplast.
We’ll be following both Mick and Vic on the Himalayan expedition, providing updates along the way, once the team departs for the Himalaya. You can also keep up to date by following our Instagram.
Some of you may know, that this will be the third attempt Mick has has made for the Himalyan summit, due to illness. The story of Mick’s cancer diagnosis and successful treatment can be read in a series of candid articles on our blog.