Telluride Mountainfilm: “Finding Alex Lowe”

Telluride Mountainfilm: “Finding Alex Lowe”

Telluride Mountainfilm takes place over Memorial Weekend, starting Friday, May 27. For a full schedule, go here and click on the day for a roll out. 

Conrad and Jenni Lowe-Anker with their boys, courtesy Telluride Mountainfilm.

Conrad and Jenni Lowe-Anker with their boys, courtesy Telluride Mountainfilm.

On October 5, 1999, an avalanche on the slopes of of Tibet’s 26,289-foot Shishapangma screamed down the mountain’s south face, killing Bozeman, Montana’s Alex Lowe, then age 40, considered best all-around mountaineer of his generation.

Lowe’s climbing partner, Conrad Anker, helped Lowe’s widow Jenni raise the couple’s three boys .In their shared grief, the two fell in love and were married in 2001. That story was the subject of a memoir by Jenni Lowe-Anker and chronicled in the documentary Meru, which played in theaters across the U.S. last year and made the short list for the 2016 Oscars.

But for years, Lowe’s body was never found.

Until recently.

Below is Jenni Lowe-Anker’s story about “Finding Alex Lowe.”

A few weeks ago, I was in Nepal with my husband, Conrad Anker, having a restful day in the heat of Kathmandu just hours before boarding our plane for home in Bozeman, Montana. After packing to depart, we were strolling leisurely in the lobby of Hotel Yak and Yeti when Conrad received a call from David Goettler.

Goettler and Ueli Steck were on the south side of Shishapangma, an 8,000-meter peak in Tibet, where they were attempting a climb. As they approached the mountain, they found the bodies of two climbers melting from the blue ice of the glacier. Goettler described the boots, packs and clothing to Conrad, who knew beyond doubt that they were Alex Lowe and David Bridges.

Conrad held the phone aside and quietly told me, “They found Alex.” He asked if I wanted to speak with Goettler. In shock, I declined. A sense of confused emotion enveloped me with a certainty that had always been presumed. Images of Alex filled my head, frozen in time and encased in ice, the man I had loved and shared life with for 18 years was now emerging from the glacier more than 16 years after he had disappeared.

On Oct. 5, 1999, Alex, David Bridges and Conrad had been acclimatizing with an easy hike to assess their prospective route on the south face of Shishapangma. They were walking across the glacier when a serac broke from the summit ridge, and within seconds a white hurricane of snow and ice roared down and enveloped them. Conrad emerged from the cloud with minor injuries, but no trace of Alex or David Bridges was found. Alex had vanished, leaving me a widow with three little boys, aged 10, 7 and 3.

The New York Times ran an obituary for Alex. Written by Christopher Wren, it was one of hundreds of newspaper accounts of his death. It arrived in the mail with a personal note from Mr. Wren: “Alex set high standards for us all. We climbers are going to miss him, but I know that you and your boys will miss him even more. Please know that you are in our thoughts and our prayers here at The Times.” Thousands of condolence letters arrived, including one from the White House, in the weeks that followed, and with help from family and friends I walked a road of bereavement as best I could…

Continue reading here.



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