Alex Lowe and Conrad Anker, two of the finest climbers in the world ripped by an avalanche on Shishapangma
Alex Lowe

Mountaineer Stewart Alexander Lowe was born in the United States on December 24, 1958, and passed away on October 5, 1999. He has been characterized as having inspired “…a whole generation of climbers and explorers with his uncontainable enthusiasm, legendary training routines, and significant ascents of rock climbs, ice climbs, and mountains all over the world…” . On the mountain of Shishapangma in Tibet, he was killed by an avalanche. Honoring his legacy is the mission of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation.

One narrative in the realm of mountaineering and climbing stands out from the rest of the stories that are told about these activities. It is the stuff of legends; a story of love and loss that will go on till the end of time. Definitely one for the record books. A half-whispered fable that, once heard, becomes ingrained in the folds of your mind in such an irreversible manner that it becomes a component of your very existence. Our beliefs about life, death, and everything in between are shaped by this story, which also plays a role in determining who we are and how we behave.

Naturally, it is the tale of Alex Lowe, Conrad Anker, and Jenni Lowe-Anker, the woman who would take a liking to both of them.

Great Sail Peak, Stewart Valley, and Alex Lowe are all located on Baffin Island, Canada.
The “bat hooks” that Alex Lowe uses to undertake difficult aid climbing on Great Sail Peak, which is located above the lonely Stewart Valley on the island of Baffin Islands in Canada
In the year 1999, Alex Lowe was considered to be one of the most highly recognized climbers in the entire world. An indelible impression was left on the climbing world by him, as evidenced by his first ascents in Antarctica, Baffin Island, and the Himalaya, as well as his first ski descents across Wyoming and Montana. His legacy will go on forever. The sites that he visited, climbed, and frequently developed new paths of ascent on include Everest, Gasherbrum IV, Great Sail Peak, Mount Hunter, Great Trango Tower, and Annapurna. His climbing history reads like a Cliffs Notes version of the history of alpine climbing. David Hahn, a fellow climber, referred to him as “just really that much better than everybody else.” Hahn was not the only person who shared this feeling; in fact, it was widely believed to be true among Lowe’s contemporaries.

The first climb of “Come & Get It,” a hanging ice needle, is repeated by Alex Lowe in Hyalite Canyon, which is located in the Gallatin Mountains close to Bozeman, Montana.
The discipline and dedication that Lowe shown toward climbing in all of its forms was what set him apart from the other climbers. Rock climbing, ice climbing, mixed climbing, snow trudging, and alpine skiing were only some of the activities that he experienced. His repertoire was the most extensive of any climber of his generation. It was a well-known and acknowledged fact that Lowe was much more than just an athlete. His physical prowess earned him nicknames such as “The Mutant” and “Lung on Legs,” but it was also a well-known fact that he was far more than just an athlete. Not only was he a father and a spouse, but he was also a profound thinker who is frequently cited in modern times. Lowe’s opinion that “inspiring passion in family and friends has more enduring value than just staying alive for them” may have been the most revealing of his philosophical bent. Although he is most known for his saying that “the best climber in the world is the one having the most fun,” Lowe’s belief may have been the most telling of his philosophical bent.

Conrad Anker was unquestionably the most obvious candidate to succeed Alex Lowe as the climbing industry’s undisputed ruler. In 1999, he had climbed new routes in the Greater Ranges with some of the most accomplished climbers of the time, including as Seth Shaw, Mugs Stump, Jay Smith, and the Huber brothers. He had also traveled with other climbers. As was the case with Lowe, Anker was generally recognized for the extensive range of his abilities. There have been very few people in the past or subsequently who have acquired the variety of skills that are required to develop new routes on features that are as drastically different as Yosemite’s El Cap and Latok II in the Pakistani Karakoram. All things considered, Anker was the complete package, and he was one of the few people in the world who could compete with Lowe.

Due to the fact that Lowe and Anker were also members of the same team at The North Face, it seemed inevitable that they would eventually climb together. The fact that they would become close friends was not predetermined by fate. It is not uncommon for two athletes who are at the top of their respective fields to often be rivals or adversaries. They could have been competitors or opponents. On the other hand, the relationship that developed between them over the course of seven treks together (during which they frequently shared a tent while the weather was stormy) was not merely one of mutual respect or a casual acquaintance; rather, it was something more profound. By the year 1999, Anker and Lowe had developed a remarkable friendship, the kind of friendship that can only be comprehended by those individuals who have repeatedly put their lives in danger together. In addition to being buddies, they were also brothers.

On October 5, 1999, Lowe and Anker were physically and symbolically at the top of the globe. They were considered to be the best in the world. Together with seven other climbers, they had set out on an adventure to ascend Shishapangma, which is located in Tibet and is 8,027 meters in height. After reaching the summit, they were the first Americans to safely descend the mountain using skis. Given their history, their abilities, and their experiences working together in such hostile environments, it should not come as a surprise that Lowe and Anker were able to successfully reach the summit of Shishapangma; that they were able to survey a scene that very few humans have ever seen; and that they were well on their way to accomplishing their objective, skiing side by side down the glaciated flanks of the enormous mountain. Not a single one of those things ought to come as a surprise in any way.

One thing that came as a surprise was the disaster that followed.

Picture yourself in the most icy and gloomy location you’ve ever been. Think about it being even colder. Is darker.

Imagine that you are confined to such a tight position in this chilly and gloomy location that you are unable to move and can hardly breathe. Furthermore, despite the fact that you are paralyzed, you are in a race against time, and time is not on your side.

Consider the following scenario: your spouse and children have returned home, and you are unable to say farewell to them.

You are unable to do so unless you had an experience of being buried in an avalanche. Terra incognita is the name I’ve given to the icy and gloomy area that I’ve described for the vast majority of humanity. On the map, there is a blank spot. There is a dark unknown.

We are unable to know what Alex Lowe was thinking on October 5, 1999, when a tremendous avalanche broke out above him, Conrad Anker, and the late photographer David Bridges. This is because we are unable to know what thoughts were going through his mind at that time. It is impossible for us to speculate on the reason why Bridges and Lowe made a right turn whereas Anker made a left turn. We are unable to comprehend the reasons behind the avalanche’s entire burying of Bridges and Lowe, nor can we comprehend how Anker was able to claw his way partially to the top. It is impossible for us to even begin to comprehend the thoughts that went through Lowe’s head as the oxygen slowly ran out on him; or what Anker may have experienced in the days that followed as they searched everywhere for any sign of his best friend; or what Jenni Lowe may have felt when she received the news that her husband of 18 years had passed away through a satellite phone.

Even those who were closest to Lowe must have been plagued by a noticeable vagary, a clear nebulousness, and a certain ambiguity regarding the events that took place. As for the rest of us, the only thing that we are capable of imagining is something that is comparable to a hazy Rorschach test. To a greater extent than the image that our mind’s eye perceives, what we see reveals more about who we are.

A never-ending stretch of terra incognita may be seen radiating outwards from the location where Lowe vanished on Shishapangma Island. Nevertheless, when the terrain that we observe – as voyeuristic outsiders – gets closer and closer to home, we have a tendency to forget how far beyond us the experiences of the survivors are. Within the confines of a cozy house, surrounded by children and parents, husbands and wives, we tend to believe that we have a better understanding of how people ought to conduct themselves. By applying the standards of everyday life, we evaluate extraordinary situations. And there are occasions when we make a mistake. Sometimes, we fail to hit the target.

Alex Lowe goes on a hike in the Filchner Mountains, which is located below the Troll’s Castle.
As a result of the passing of Alex Lowe, Conrad Anker and Jenni Lowe started developing romantic feelings for one another. It began with lengthy phone calls and trips from Conrad to his family in Bozeman, Montana. It was a precarious period of time during which there must have been psychological difficulties and emotional anxieties – not only within their small group of friends, but also among Conrad and Jenni themselves. Who can even begin to speculate about the storm clouds of uncertainty that went between and among these two, as they felt a new love sprout from the darkness that they had never before imagined or been prepared to explore?

After a period of two years, in the year 2001, Jenni and Conrad tied the knot. And there was conversation. To this day, there is still the case. At times, in private settings, and at other times, in obnoxious online discussion boards. One can sneer at the phrase “two years,” asking, “What is that next to 18?”Some individuals have posed the question, “And this best friend, what kind of best friend is he who moves in to the life that his friend left before the dust has even settled?”

And when Anker would go on to consistently raise the bar in elite climbing – when he would go not once, but twice to Meru in the Indian Himalaya, to attempt to climb one of the most extreme and inaccessible alpine peaks in the world – there would be chatter again. Some people would wonder, “How is it possible for him to abandon Jenni in such a precarious situation?” Other people would respond by saying, “He doesn’t care about her or her children as much as he cares about a stupid sport.”

It is, of course, none of our business to deal with any of that. However, even if it were the case – even if we had the legal right to know anything about all of this – I have my reservations about whether or not we would be able to gather this information. There is no other person who could possibly know how to stay faithful to his friend’s notion of how to bring up a family than Anker. As a result of her husband’s sudden passing, Lowe-Anker is the only person who can even begin to conceive of the proper way to commemorate his life. In the wake of an unfathomable tragedy, only Anker and Lowe-Anker have the slightest concept as to how they may best pick up the pieces and continue to live their lives in the manner that their cherished friend and spouse would have wanted them to. What we may envisage is, at best, an educated guess for anyone else. This is true for anyone else.

We are unable to have any knowledge whatsoever regarding the emotional terrain of another person’s losses and longings because we have never been in that situation before. Our own hearts are the only ones we can truly know. It would be appropriate for us to stretch a sympathetic heartstring to everyone else, presuming that every heart sings, to some extent, a chord that resonates and is shared by all hearts.

As they were scouting out a new route to climb on Shishapangma on April 27, 2016, two mountain climbers named David Goettler and the late Ueli Steck discovered the remains of Alex Lowe. There was, of course, a massive media frenzy that followed, as well as a multitude of interviews, rehashes of the old narrative, and a variety of intrusions from the public sphere into the life of the Lowe-Anker family, which had been rather quiet up until that point.

In addition, although I am tempted to cite Jenni on her speculations on what Alex may be thinking about all of this if he were looking down from above, or one of his son’s heartfelt recollections about his time spent with Alex, in order to bring this story to a close, I feel obligated to take a different approach.

The facts of the event, such as the numbers, dates, names, obituaries, memories, and characters, do not, in my opinion, constitute the story. There is absolutely no connection between Alex Lowe, Jenni Lowe-Anker, or Conrad Anker in any way. There is no need to worry about famous people, mountain climbers, or what any of us think about other people concerning this matter.

In my opinion, the story is about a barren and gloomy location, as well as the warmth and light that sprang from that location. Nothing more, nothing less than that. My interpretation of this narrative is that it is about that spark in the darkness, that lone kelvin of radiating something that is nestled in among the nothing.

In the cockpit of a C-130 Hercules aircraft, Alex Lowe gets his first look at Queen Maud Land, which is located in Antarctica. He is on his way to a large wall-climbing expedition.
In the end, I am unable to conceive of the distinct feelings that each of the characters involved would have. I couldn’t possibly put myself in their position. I am not capable of supposing that I can comprehend their experiences. The skill that they demonstrated to demonstrate love in the face of loss is something that I can fathom. I am of the opinion that pretty much everyone who has experienced a catastrophic loss can.

mostly due to the fact that, in the end, what other choice is there? Despite the fact that their narrative may be challenging, the alternative, which is to remain alone in the chilly and dark environment, is completely incomprehensible.

Rescue on Denali

On Denali, which is located in Alaska and is 20,320 feet (6,190 meters) in height, Lowe assisted the National Park Service in rescuing seven Spanish climbers in June of 1995. On June 9th, the group had been confined for a total of four days at an altitude of 5,900 meters (19,200 ft). One of the climbers ended up falling to his death from the Upper West Rib of the mountain, which is 4,200 feet (1,300 meters) in height before a rescue team could even come together. Every single one of the climbers who had survived was suffering from hypothermia. A military helicopter was used to carry Lowe, Mark Twight, and Scott Backes to a plateau above the Spaniards. They then descended down a slope of ice and rock that was fifty degrees steep and four hundred feet vertical in order to reach them. Once they arrived, they realized that one of them required rapid evacuation. At first, he dragged him up the steep slope at a high height, and then he carried him on his back. This was done in the environment of snow.

Death on Shishapangma

In September of 1999, Lowe, Conrad Anker, and David Bridges, who had previously won the national paragliding championship for the United States twice, participated in the 1999 American Shishapangma Ski Expedition. This expedition took them to the Himalayan behemoth Shishapangma, which is the fourteenth-highest mountain in the world and stands at 26,291 feet (8,013 meters).

Lowe and Anker were supposed to be a part of the team that would ski down, and they were supposed to become the first Americans to ski down from the summit of an 8,000-meter peak. Bridges, on the other hand, was supposed to be a part of a three-man film team that was going to shoot an NBC documentary about the expedition for The North Face. The comments of Lowe:

Skiing off of a peak that is 8,000 meters in height has been an ambition of mine for a very long time. According to my guess, there are a lot of people who are interested in doing this and attempting to ski off of Everest. However, in my opinion, it must be a run that is both aesthetically pleasing and of high quality. As for the ski lines, Shishapangma is the best of all the peaks which are 8,000 meters in height. Taking a direct shot down the Southwest Face is a straightforward and uncomplicated process. That is turning out to be a very good one.

As they searched for a way to ascend the peak on October 5th, they divided into two teams and began their hunt. They were traversing a flat glacier when a massive serac burst loose 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above them and crashed downhill. Lowe, Anker, and Bridges were the members of the group belonging to Lowe. The three men were washed away by the avalanche that was 150 meters (500 feet) wide. Anker was hurled 100 feet (30 meters) by the windblast, and he suffered a lacerated skull, two fractured ribs, and a dislocated shoulder. However, he emerged from the snow and led a rescue mission that lasted for twenty hours in the vast debris field that measured up to twenty feet (6.1 meters) deep. Both climbers’ bodies were not discovered at the time; however, on April 27, 2016, climbers Ueli Steck and David Gottler discovered the remains of the two climbers emerging from the glacier. This discovery occurred over seventeen years after the initial discovery.

Memorial Fund

Only his wife Jennifer and his three sons, Max, Sam, and Isaac, were able to carry on after his passing. In his honour, the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation was founded with the purpose of providing guidance and financial assistance to humanitarian organizations and initiatives that are located in mountainous locations all over the world. Among the projects they are working on is the Khumbu Climbing Center, which serves Nepal’s indigenous people.

Forget Me Not is a memoir that was written by Jennifer Lowe-Anker and released in 2008. It details her life along with Lowe, his passing, and the life she maintained with Anker after he passed away. 2009 was the year that Forget Me Not was honoured with the National Outdoor Book Award for literature.


The Underhill Award, which is the greatest accolade in mountaineering in the United States, was bestowed upon Lowe in 1995 by the American Alpine Club in recognition of his remarkable mountaineering accomplishments. Over the course of almost ten years, he was a member of the professional climbing squad for The North Face. Following Lowe’s passing, Outside Magazine published a postmortem article in which they referred to him as “the world’s best climber.” The article also stated that “Lowe’s real genius grew out of the way he combined physical accomplishments with an indomitable spirit.”

Alex Lowe Peak

Although its elevation once known as Peak 10,031, Alex Lowe Peak, which is located in the Gallatin National Forest and is located south of Bozeman, Montana, was officially named after him in September of 2005.
During the spring of 1997, Lowe and his buddy Hans Saari had climbed the northern couloir. Together, they had made the first ski descent from the summit, which they referred to as “Hellmouth Couloir.”

Bodies Found

Lowe’s family and charitable organization have announced that the bodies of Alex Lowe, who was widely regarded as the best mountain climber in the world during the 1990s, and his cameraman have been discovered in a glacier in Tibet that is thawing. The bodies were buried in an avalanche sixteen years ago.

When they were buried in cascades of snow on the 26,335-foot-tall Shishapangma mountain, which is the 14th-highest in the world, on October 5, 1999, Lowe, who was 40 years old at the time, and cameraman David Bridges, who was 29 years old, were both in the process of filming a documentary series for NBC Sports.
David Gottler, a German climber, and Ueli Steck, a Swiss climber, were acclimatizing for their own ascent on the mountain’s south face when they discovered their remains earlier this week, according to the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation.
According to Conrad Anker, another member of the 1999 expedition, Gottler provided Conrad Anker with a description of the clothing and packs that were discovered alongside the dead. Anker determined that the items belonged to Lowe and Bridges. A head injury and a broken rib were among the injuries that Anker sustained before he married Jenni, the widow of Lowe, in the year 2001.

“Alex’s parents are thankful to know that their son’s body has been found, and that Conrad, the boys, and I will make our pilgrimage to Shishapangma,” Jenni Lowe-Anker said in a statement. “We will be heading to Shishapangma to pay our respects.” “It is time to put Alex to rest.”

Alex and David disappeared, were arrested, and were frozen in time, according to Conrad Anker, who adopted Lowe’s three sons. After a total of sixteen years of life, they have finally established their presence. We express our gratitude.

As part of an episode of an NBC Sports documentary series called “The North Face Expeditions,” which was presented by the artist Sting, Lowe, Anker, and Bridges, who would go on to become the first Americans to ski down from the summit of Shishapangma, were attempting to accomplish this feat.

Climbing and skiing resumé

Notable climbs

  • First ascents
    • Rakekniven, Queen Maud Land (Antarctica), January 1997
    • Great Sail Peak, Baffin Island, 1998
  • New routes
    • Kwangde Nup, Nepal, 1989
    • Kusum Kanguru, Nepal, 1990
    • Northwest Chimney, Grand Teton, Wyoming, 1991
    • Peak 4810, Ak-Su region, Kyrgyzstan, 1995
    • Great Trango Tower, Pakistan, 1999, NW face, new route
  • Other climbs
    • Matterhorn (Alps, Switzerland)
    • K2, Pakistan, China, 1986 (attempt)
    • Mount Everest, South Col Route, Nepal, 1990 and 1993 (attempt of its Kangshung Face in 1994)
    • Gasherbrum IV, Pakistan, 1992 (attempt)
    • Khan Tengri, Kyrgyzstan (August 1993), solo ascent in 10 hours and 8 minutes (broke the former speed climbing record by four hours)
    • Aconcagua, Argentina, 1993 and 1994
    • Annapurna IV, Nepal, 1996 (attempt)
    • Mount Rundle, Canadian Rockies, spring 1996, “Troubled Dreams”, first free ascent of one of the most difficult mixed climbs in the Canadian Rockies


  • First descents
    • Hellmouth Couloir, Alex Lowe Peak (formerly Peak 10,031), Montana, 1997
    • Northwest Couloir, Middle Teton, Wyoming, 1992
    • Enclosure Couloir, Grand Teton, Wyoming, 1994


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