Pat Morrow still seeking challenges, even in retirement

From the Himalayas to Antarctica, the mountains of New Zealand to the canyons of Arizona, photojournalist Pat Morrow has seen it all.

Now just short of his 65th birthday, Morrow and his wife Baiba, 61, have retired from their journalism travels, and now call the small town of Wilmer, B.C. home.

But retirement from freelance work doesn’t mean they have hung up their hiking poles and cameras just yet.

“The word retirement sounds so inappropriate or even unnecessary,” Baiba explains.

“We just sort of go with the flow like we always have, retirement just means that we’re not getting paid for what we’ve always done anyways.”

In their earlier years, the Morrows made a living by traveling around the globe, documenting travels, and chasing stories of mountaineering and mountain culture to some of the most remote places on the planet.

While the two explorers are still making frequent trips, shooting plenty of photos and film, now their work is mostly done for local consumption and their own enjoyment.

“A good image can still really inspire people,” said Baiba.

“Photos speak a language that doesn’t really need translation,” Pat added.

Pat Morrow began his photojournalism career in 1974 when he graduated from SAIT and pursued an internship at the Calgary Herald.

After graduation, he worked hard to get his work recognized by editors and publications.

Morrow recalls his start in the industry as a “long and strenuous uphill battle.”

At one point, he took a 30-day trip in a Greyhound bus from B.C. to New York just to personally meet with an editor and hand out his portfolio.

“I spent at least five years of near starvation just trying to become a photographer,” Pat remembers.

His career as a professional really took off when he was named the lead photographer for Canada’s first expedition to Mount Everest in 1982.

With the support of his employers, mainly Equinox Magazine at the time, the Kimberley B.C. native scaled Everest and went on to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents.

His book, Beyond Everest: Quest for the Seven Summits, documents his adventures.

Not only has Pat published several books, he has also been part of more than 40 film productions, working with media outlets such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC and CTV.

In recognition of all his hard work and achievements over the years, Morrow received the Order of Canada in 1988 and the Summit of Excellence award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 1990.

Baiba Morrow’s introduction to photojournalism was a little less conventional.

She had moved west to the Rockies from Montreal, where she met and married Pat, and with no training in photography or writing.

She embraced Pat’s lifestyle of being a freelance photojournalist.

Her philosophy of “going with the flow” eventually worked out in her favour as she accompanied Pat on many of his expeditions.

“In 87’ we made a seven-month journey through the Himalayas…experiencing a Himalayan winter was a real eye-opener,” said Pat.

Today these two mountaineers have applied their skills a closer to home.

Aside from frequently hiking and enjoying the the Columbia Valley, the couple’s day-to-day is usually spent concentrating their efforts on nature and wildlife conservation.

Aside from hiking and enjoying the beautiful amenities in the Columbia Valley, the Morrows day-to-day is usually spent concentrating their efforts on nature and wildlife conservation.

Since 2010, Baiba has been on the board of directors for Wildsight, a conservation effort aimed at mitigating the destructive forces of industrial tourism and other industries within the Purcell Mountain range and Rockies.

They also are a big part of the annual Invermere Film Festival and try to share their passion for nature and exploration with friends, locals, and anyone willing to hear a good story.

One of Pat’s latest personal projects has been a story 40 years in the making entitled Tao Canyon, a publication that started with friends, about the  canyons of Utah and Arizona.

Photos speak a language that doesn’t really need translation. – Pat Morrow

It surely won’t be long before Pat and Baiba are off travelling again, but for now, their home in Wilmer is perfect for these two wandering souls.

For more information on Pat and Baiba’s careers and stories check out their website.

About Kyle Woolman 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Kyle Woolman worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.