In 1999, American mountaineer Alex Lowe, along with his cameraman David Bridges and fellow climber Conrad Anker, set out to climb Shishapangma in the Himalayas, the 14th highest peak in the world.
Lowe and Bridges didn’t make it back down.
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Photo by #alexlowe, January 1997. Trolls Loppet, Antarctica. This snapshot of @krakauernotwriting and I from the summit of Trolls Loppet captures the essence of rock climbing on the frozen continent. Bundle up, keep moving and enjoy the moment. 21 years later we visited the continent again, this time focusing on the Drygalski Range. Ulvetanna is the peak distant right. The next few posts will highlight the #tnfantarctica17 expedition w @pfaff_anna @sav.cummins @cedarwright @alexhonnold @jimmy_chin & @pablo_durana . I’ll be sporting yellow (it’s back – sorry ~ not sorry). @thenorthface_climb @thenorthface @yeti
Lowe, who was considered the best mountain climber in the world at the time, and his crew had set out the film a documentary series for NBC Sports, in which they planned to become the first Americans to ski down from the summit of Shishapangma.
According to Wikpedia:
Lowe, Anker and Bridges were crossing a flat glacier when a large serac broke loose 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above and tumbled downhill. Lowe’s team at first thought the slide posed no threat, and took photographs of it, before realising that it was headed straight at them. Lowe yelled a warning to his team, all of whom ran. According to Anker, Lowe and Bridges may have attempted to escape by diving into a crevasse. Regardless, the 500-foot (150 m)-wide avalanche swept over the three men. Anker was thrown a reported 100 feet (30 m) by the windblast, and suffered a lacerated head, two broken ribs, and dislocated shoulder, but emerged from the snow, and led a rescue attempt that spanned a reported 20 hours in a large debris field measuring up to 20 feet (6.1 m) deep. Neither Lowe nor Bridges were wearing a distress radiobeacon, which might have helped rescuers pinpoint their bodies. (Source)
After being buried under snow and ice in the Himalayas for almost two decades, it was confirmed yesterday that the bodies of Lowe and Bridges have been recovered.
Bodies of mountaineer and cameraman recovered in the Himalayas. https://t.co/jo9NUrUz1k
— Survival Life (@SurvivalLF) May 3, 2016
According to NBC News:
The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation said their remains were found last week by German climber David Göttler and Swiss climber Ueli Steck, who were acclimatizing for their own ascent on the mountain’s south face.
Göttler described clothing and packs found with the remains to Conrad Anker, another member of the 1999 expedition, who identified them as belonging to Lowe and Bridges. Anker, who suffered a head injury and a broken rib, married Lowe’s widow, Jenni, in 2001. (Source)
Lowe’s widow said that his parents are grateful that their son’s body has been found, and that she, Anker and their sons will make a pilgrimage soon to lay him to rest at last.
Unfortunately, the stories of Alex Lowe and David Bridges did not have a happy ending, but thankfully at least Conrad Anker was able to make it out of the avalanche alive. Click here to read about 10 more amazing and inspiring survival stories.