Travel

To the Himalaya and Back Again

Pat and Baiba Morrow’s tribute to a region and its people
  • Oct 31, 2014
  • 575 words
  • 3 minutes
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In the 1970s and ’80s, Canadian Pat Morrow lived the high-octane, high-risk life of a mountaineer. Along with a close-knit group of like-minded pals, he made climbing and travelling the centre of his existence, and thanks to Morrow’s growing skill as a photographer, he was able to fund his adventures on shoestring budgets. In 1977, after knocking off Alaska’s Mount McKinley, Morrow hit upon a plan to be the first person to summit the highest peak on each of the seven continents. Less than a decade later, as he stood atop Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid in 1986, the Seven Summits gamble was a lock.

Morrow had been the second Canadian to summit Mount Everest in October 1982, and during the walk in to base camp as the expedition’s photographer, he had his first revelatory taste of life in the shadow of the soaring Himalayan Mountains, which straddle the border between Nepal and Tibet. The spirit of the Sherpas working with the Everest team and the other hill tribes he met along the way had a profound impact on him. As fate would have it, in a post-university trek through Nepal two years earlier, Baiba Auders, the woman who would become Pat’s wife in 1984, had already forged her own indelible connection with mountain culture.

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Over the next 30 years, their shared appreciation and engagement would bring the two photojournalists back to the Himalaya almost three dozen times from their home base in Canmore, Alberta, and now Wilmer, B.C. On assignment for magazines, book publishers and television broadcasters, the pair exercised their wide-ranging talents in still photography, sound recording and videography while satisfying an enduring appetite for climbing, trekking and cycling in this part of the world. These intensive trips resulted in an archive of 22,000 photographs that document the life and times of ancient cultures and the spectacular landscapes in which they live.

Now, the Morrows have teamed with long-time friend and Bungalo Books publisher Frank B. Edwards to create a “coffee tablet” ebook that is an evocative portrait of the Himalaya and its people. Radically editing thousands of images down to a judiciously selected 170, Heart of the Himalaya is “part personal photo album, part exposition and part celebration,” featuring photographs from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, northern India and China’s Xinjiang Uygur and Sichuan provinces. A multimedia/multi-touch ebook for Apple’s iBook platform, it is best viewed on an iPad but is also readable on a Mac with the latest operating system.

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While Heart of the Himalaya’s text plays a lesser role to its transcendent photography, there is still plenty of detail about the Morrows’ Himalayan adventures in the chapter introductions and captions. A resource section will prove useful to trekkers, but the special features don’t end there. Three short videos are embedded in this eBook, but save some time for the nine-minute film on page 69. It’s about the game of ice hockey as played in Ladakh, India. The footage is a heart-warming animation of the abiding affection and respect the Morrows have for a place too few of us will experience firsthand. The reader can’t help but feel their loving, inclusive embrace, which is only reinforced by the photographs and narrative throughout Heart of the Himalaya.

To purchase, visit: itunes.apple.com/ca

To read a profile on Pat and Baiba Morrow, visit: www.canadiangeographic.ca/travel/adventure_zone/oct07.asp

All photos © Pat and Baiba Morrow

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