Canada’s Sul­tan of Stone

Gripped - - NORTHERN FACES - Story by Tom Wright

Look­ing down be­tween his legs, Greg Fow­er­aker felt dizzy. Six­teen-hun­dred me­tres of ex­po­sure made his stomach churn. With only his ice tools and cram­pons, a lapse of con­cen­tra­tion would con­demn him to the glacier far be­low.

It was July 1985, cut­ting-edge climb­ing pi­o­neers Peter Croft, Don Serl and Fow­er­aker were climb­ing un­roped to­ward the sum­mit of Mount Wadding­ton: peak one of nine on way to the first tra­verse of ar­guably the finest mas­sif in the Coast Range. “This tr ip re­ally opened my eyes to what was pos­si­ble when you com­bined clear think­ing, lots of ef­fort, tech­nique and fit­ness,” Fow­er­aker re­flected in a re­cent in­ter­view. It was one of his first ma­jor alpine out­ings and it didn’t all go ac­cord­ing to plan.

As sun dawned on the fourth morn­ing of the climb, the sta­ble weather win­dow seemed to be com­ing to an end, the stove was mal­func­tion­ing, and Fow­er­aker had fallen ill. Stomach retch­ing, they were half­way through the tra­verse on Tiede­mann’s East Ridge. With tremen­dous ex­po­sure ei­ther side of them, re­treat would be highly prob­lem­atic. Fully com­mit­ted, the team pressed on, en­counter ing

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