The body of one of the world’s best climbers of our time and his cameraman have been found 16 years after they were killed in an avalanche.
American mountaineer Alex Lowe, 40, was on an expedition on October 5, 1999, to climb then ski down the 14th highest mountain in the world, Shishapangma, an eight kilometre peak in southern Tibet.
He and his cameraman Dave Bridges, 29, died when they were overcome and buried by a massive avalanche, which broke free 1.8 kilometres above them.
Miraculously Conrad Anker, who was climbing with the pair, survived with minor injuries.
Lowe’s widow Jennifer went on to marry Anker in 2001, who adopted the pair’s three sons. They run the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation together.
More than 16 years after the fatal expedition, two climbers David Goettler from Germany and Ueli Steck from Switzerland found the remains of two people partially melting out of a glacier on the south face of Shishapangma, Tibet.
On Wednesday, Anker received a phone call from Goettler and Steck who had come across the remains of two climbers still encased in blue ice but beginning to emerge from the glacier.
They described the clothing and backpacks on the frozen climbers to Anker, who confirmed the bodies were of Lowe and Bridges, a statement from Lowe’s widow Jennifer Lowe-Anker confirmed.
“They were close to each other. Blue and red North Face backpacks. Yellow Koflach boots. It was all that gear from that time period. They were pretty much the only two climbers who were there,” Anker told Outside magazine.
The final words of Jennifer’s 2008 memoir Forget MeNot said: “Alex will melt out of the glacier one day ... and I do not look forward to it”.
That day finally arrived.
On Sunday Jennifer said in a statement: “Alex and David vanished, were captured and frozen in time. Sixteen years of life has been lived and now they are found. We are thankful.”
“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. It is time to put Alex to rest,” Jennifer Lowe-Anker said.
Conrad wrote on the foundations’ website: “After 16-and-a-half years, this brings closure and relief for me and Jenni and for our family.”