The 25 Most Adventurous Men of the Past 25 Years

Alex Lowe (1958–1999)
25
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."

Back to Top