Saying farewell to her brother, a well-known Colorado climber who died in November 2006 in an avalanche on a remote mountain in southwest China, was one of Ginny Hicks' darkest moments.

Saying farewell to her brother, a well-known Colorado climber who died in November 2006 in an avalanche on a remote mountain in southwest China, was one of Ginny Hicks' darkest moments.

But in death as in life, thoughts of her only sibling, Charlie Fowler, gave way to a twinkle of light, said Hicks, principal of Griffin Creek Elementary School in Medford.

"I overheard my daughter, Lindsey, telling a story about a technique she devised when she was 5 for drawing a star," Hicks said. "You go up the mountain, you go down the mountain, you go over here, then over there and down."

Uncle Charlie's stories about scouting out a mountain for months, going up and down, then climbing it had been Lindsey's inspiration. Hicks later used the technique to teach her students how to draw a star.

"I told that story at the memorial service and after the memorial, some mothers came up and said, 'That's such a beautiful story. I'm going to use it to teach my children how to draw a star,'" Hicks recalled. "I thought it was worth putting in a book."

Fowler, 52, and his longtime partner, Christine Boskoff, 39, two of the nation's top high-altitude climbers, were climbing Genyen Peak in the Sichuan Province near the Tibetan border when the avalanche hit.

Fowler, who was a photographer and writer, was considered an expert on climbing in southwest China. He also had scaled some of the most difficult peaks in the world, including Mount Everest.

"Mountain Star" recounts some of Fowler's adventures around the world and portrays him scaling a mountain in the shape of a star in illustrations by Anjali Sawant of Telluride, Colo. It's published by Mountain World Media on recycled paper in soy ink. Some of Fowler's photos are featured. The story doesn't address his death, but it's mentioned in his biography at the back of the book.

So far, the book is only available at Between the Covers, Fowler's favorite bookstore in Telluride.

Hicks also donated some copies to the Griffin Creek Elementary library and the Norwood Public Library in Colorado.

Hicks, an educator for more than 30 years, hadn't ever tried to write a children's book before "Mountain Star." But she had read plenty of them to schoolchildren. And her brother's images were all around her in her home in Jacksonville, from a photo of him climbing a giant icicle in Telluride to his antique cameras and 150-year-old desk he kept in his log cabin in Telluride.

"I love the cover of the book," Hicks said. "I think it captures the spirit of the story."

The cover shows an illustration of Fowler wearing a bright yellow mountain suit and hot pink climbing boots. Equipment and gear companies often gave Fowler products to try out or promote, and the flashy pink boots were among those items.

"He got razzed about his pink boots," Hicks said.

Fowler adored reading, Hicks said. He wrote climbing guide books and had expressed a desire to share some of his adventures in a children's book to help show children other cultures.

When Lindsey Hicks, who is now 26, was growing up, Fowler sometimes would visit her classes and talk about his travels.

"He was really a world ambassador because he enjoyed every place and culture he visited," Hicks said.

Tibet was one of his favorite places, and he took extensive photographs there, including a couple that are featured in the home Hicks shares with her husband, Maurice "Maurie" Hicks.

"He was a voracious reader," Hicks said. "He had four different library cards in his wallet. Our mother was a librarian, so this seemed like a good way to honor him."

Nearly two weeks ago, Hicks read the book aloud to her students at an assembly.

"I was a little concerned about getting teary-eyed," she said. "Reading it to people I care about made it special but also made it more emotional."

Hicks, her daughter and mother Christie Fowler, 89, of Jacksonville, all wear star necklaces to remember Charlie.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or