There is no happiness for him
who does not travel!
Thus we have heard.
Living in the society of men, even the best man becomes a sinner.
The fortune of him who is sitting, sits.
It rises when he rises.
It sleeps when he sleeps.
It moves when he moves.
the Rigveda (800-600 BC)
We are mountain people: we like climbing them, exploring them, sleeping beneath their majestic ramparts under a blanket of stars, and living among the ancient tribes that have carved out a life in their harsh shadows. While our professional experiences reach far beyond the mountain world, we concentrate our efforts there. In the process, we have become masters at combining what we love doing with earning a livelihood.
It all began with a still camera, pen and notebook, and an old green van in the mid-70s; it continues today with that same wandering eye and crazy sensibility, except our tools have changed. Video camera, laptop and Aeroplan points get us where we want to go these days.
Pat’s photographic career took off when he scaled Mount Everest in 1982 as the photographer for Canada’s first and widely publicized expedition to that mountain. With the unwavering support of Equinox Magazine, he continued a global climbing spree to the highest peak on every continent. By 1986, he reached the summit of Irian Jaya’s Carstensz Pyramid, thus completing the Seven Summits project. His book, Beyond Everest: Quest for the Seven Summits, documents that hallmark adventure. In recognition of these achievements, he received the Order of Canada in 1988 and the Summit of Excellence at the 1990 Banff Mountain Film Festival.
Baiba’s journalistic background developed more unconventionally. After university, she moved west from Montreal to work as an occupational therapist in a children’s hospital. There, in the Rockies, she met and married Pat and, with no formal training in writing or photography, embraced the unpredictable lifestyle of a freelance photojournalist. Her mother has long since stopped asking her when will she get a real job.
Not many couples manage the challenges of working and playing together (balancing the fiery mix of ego and character), but we’ve managed to forge a career together and still stay best buddies. We are based in the hamlet of Wilmer, B.C., overlooking the Columbia River Wetlands, home to the critical Pacific Avian Flyway. Our base acts as a launch pad for our global jaunts and the Purcell and Rocky mountains in our back yard magnanimously provide both inspiration and perspiration.
In the early 70s, Pat joined forces with local environmental activists to help establish the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy. Today he and Baiba lend their support to Wildsight conservation efforts aimed at mitigating the destructive forces of industrial tourism development and extractive industries in the Purcell Mountain range and neighbouring Rockies. As of 2010, Baiba sits on the board of directors of Wildsight.
In 2010, the Alpine Club of Canada and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides bestowed the tremendous honour of inviting Pat to be the patron of the 21st Annual Mountain Guide’s Ball (in 2013, Pat was delighted to receive honorary membership in the ACC). Not only was it a great party, but the funds raised went straight into Wildsight’s Education in the Wild program, which takes school kids up to grade 12 on cool ecology field trips in the Purcell and Rocky Mountain watershed with professional instructors.
David Suzuki applauds the program: “Reconnecting our children with our natural surroundings is what makes the Wildsight educational programs so valuable to children and parents in the Columbia Basin.”
Since 2009, Pat has been chairman of the Conrad Kain Centennial Society, which was formed to celebrate the nature-loving legacy of Canada’s premier pioneer mountain guide, Conrad Kain. Every year since 2009, we have hosted the Bugaboos Teens Climbing Camp in the nearby world-class granite Bugaboo range that Kain helped to make famous.
A Journalism graduate of SAIT Polytechnic in 1974, in 2010 the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology honoured Pat with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Thompson Rivers University awarded Pat an Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) during Fall Convocation in Kamloops, BC on Oct. 10, 2014. Pat has had a long-time professional and personal relationship with the Adventure Studies Department, having developed the department’s annual week-long Adventure Photography course and taught the first 12 years of these courses.
On Nov 16, 2017 Pat and Baiba were called to Ottawa by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to receive the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration alongside our “plant explorer” friend Wade Davis, who is also one helluva photographer on top of his many other talents. Baiba and Pat were also given honorary Fellowships in the RCGS.
We were chuffed to see so many familiar faces in the crowd, many of whom had come for the AGM and annual dinner. It’s a special honour to be feted by the principal Canadian organization dedicated to making our country better known to Canadians and to the world. While best known for its iconic publication, Canadian Geographic magazine, the Society also provides free geographic educational materials to almost 18,000 member educators from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
To view a 2007 Canadian Geographic magazine profile of Pat & Baiba, go to their Adventure Zone page, and also a lovely review of our Heart of the Himalaya eBook. Nice video, “Pat Morrow – SAIT Polytechnic 2010 Distinguished Alumnus“, on SAIT’s Website.