The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years

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Alex Lowe (1958–1999)
Gordon Wiltsie / National Geographic Creative19/25

Alex Lowe (1958–1999)

Conrad Anker recalls his closest friend and climbing partner:

"Alex was the adventure equivalent of a polymath. He burst onto the stage with hard ice climbs in Colorado; he was one of the first to guide Everest; he did new routes on mountains in Alaska, Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan. Plus, he competed in some of the earliest sport-climbing competitions.

The day Alex died, on Shishapangma glacier, we were scouting a route to go up and ski off the summit. An avalanche caught us, and I got blown 90 feet and banged up. We looked for Alex for 20 straight hours and never found him. Later, I became a father to his sons and a husband to his widow. I've never stopped missing Alex. Finally, last year, I was in Tibet when the climbers David Goettler and Ueli Steck happened across Alex's body. We organized an expedition, and at 5,900 meters, I carried his body down. A kind of survivor's guilt hit: Why him and not me? In America, we glorify death and trivialize it in movies, but we don't really see mortality. But it was also good to have closure."

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