Charlie Fowler (1954 - December 4 2006 (estimated)) was an American mountain climber, writer, and photographer. He was one of North America’s most experienced mountain climbers, and successfully climbed many of the world’s highest peaks. Along with his climbing partner, Christine Boskoff, he went missing in southwestern China sometime between November 11 and December 4, 2006. His body was found on a remote mountain on December 27, 2006, and was officially identified a day later.
In 1977 he gained fame after free soloing the Direct North Buttress route on Middle Cathedral Rock in Yosemite National Park, followed by the first free solo ascent of the Diamond on Colorado's Longs Peak in 1978. The route he chose, initially called the Integral Route, was renamed the Casual Route after Fowler's bold climb.
He became a member of the American Mountain Guides Association in 1986, and was a certified guide who taught courses and evaluated other students who wanted to become certified mountain guides. He often guided expeditions for Mountain Madness, an adventure travel company owned by Christine Boskoff.
Fowler claimed to have been climbing mountains since 1968, having successfully climbed the 8,000 meter peaks of Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma, as well as Aconcagua, one of the Seven Summits. He attempted to ascend K2, but had to turn back before reaching the summit due to poor conditions. In recent years, he explored unnamed peaks in Tibet and remote areas of China.
Along with his friend Damon Johnston, Fowler founded the publishing company Mountain World Media LLC in 2005. Fowler and Johnston also co-authored a guidebook to sandstone climbs in southwest Colorado titled The Wild Wild West. Fowler also started the Telluride Mountain Club and the Horizon Program.
Additionally, he was a board member of Mountainfilm in Telluride for almost 10 years, and served on their Advisory Board.
"We’re in the town of Litang for a few days, getting ready for one more trip into the hills. We just got back from attempting a peak I tried in ’96 doing a film. Didn’t make it that time due to complications with the film crew. This time the peak was a lot less icy (global warming?). We got near the top but backed off due to scary conditions --- thin snow over rock slabs. Had a blast climbing as far as we did though. Now off to one more different area to try a 6,000-meter peak and a smaller one, then traveling back doing the tourist thing."
The two peaks Fowler referred to in his final email were unnamed, which initially complicated search and rescue efforts launched by local authorities in Litang. Furthermore, locals in Litang and Buddhist monks living at a monastery near the base of Mount Genyen told investigators they had not seen any foreigners in the area for the previous month. The authorities also found no evidence of the pair in the vicinities of other peaks they had talked about climbing in previous e-mails.
But, on December 25 (about three weeks after the pair was declared missing), authorities began to make progress in the search when they discovered a local man who said he had driven Fowler and Boskoff to a remote town not far from the Tibetan border. According to the driver, Fowler and Boskoff said they planned to climb 6,204-meter (20,354-foot) Mount Genyen. They left their luggage with the man when he dropped them off on November 11, and said they would retrieve it when they returned on November 24, which they never did. With this new lead, the authorities began to focus their efforts on the slopes of Mount Genyen.
The initial investigation revealed that Fowler was likely killed in an avalanche. He was found unroped and was not wearing a harness at the time of his death, though he was wearing crampons and carried a full pack.
The body of Christine Boskoff was found and identified on July 8, 2007. It was to be retrieved from the mountain in August 2007 (when more favorable weather conditions were predicted for recovery team).