His New Life
September 14, 2001- Seattle, Washington
Conrad Anker, who many feel has become America's best known climber, looks at life these days from a completely different perspective. The North Face, Anker's employer for the past 18 years, was purchased last year by a multinational company, Vanity Fair Corporation, giving the venerable outdoor company a sound business footing. And Anker, long the globetrotting bachelor alpinist, finds himself in the new role of family man.
"It's all good," Anker recently told MountainZone.com. "All that 'best climber stuff' is just talk, and you won't hear it from me. But I am excited about my expanded role with The North Face, and it's been wonderful having a life with Jenni and the boys."
Anker married Jennifer Lowe, widow of Alex Lowe, last year in a private ceremony in Italy. "That's the only place we could be sure there would only be two people present," he said with a crooked grin. Anker now lives in Bozeman with Jenni and the boys, Sam, Isaac and Max.
Alex Lowe perished in an avalanche on the slopes of Shishapangma during a climb/ski expedition in October 1999.
"I realize people may be surprised that Jenni and I decided to marry," Anker said recently in Salt Lake City, "but that's between us. I've known the boys all their lives, so it's comfortable for all of us. Our marriage has been embraced by Jenni's family, my family, and Alex's family, and that's what matters to us. I'm happy to be a part of this expanded family, and have the opportunity to watch and help as the kids grow up."
But much is the same with Anker. He's recently returned from an attempt on K7 in Pakistan's Karakoram with Jimmy Chin and Brady Robinson. The group was unsuccessful on the 6,900-meter alpine spire in the Chukula Valley due to impossible conditions that included blinding sleet, but Anker recalls the trip as a good one, with good friends, in a beautiful area.
Anker will oversee The North Face's subsidiary, A-5, from its new headquarters in Bozeman. He has pared the line down to its two most popular models, the single and the double (Cliff Cabana) Portaledges, and will be working to expand the brand from his new hometown.
"For me, it's a chance to find a segment of the business I can grow with," he said. "After 18 years with the company as a sponsored athlete, I'm looking forward to getting more directly involved with a part of the business I know well."
Besides his more familiar roles as climber and sponsored athlete, Anker has used his renown to advance the causes nearest and dearest to him. He's on the board of Access Fund, Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, and the Conservation Alliance.
"That's probably the most unreported aspect of my life," he said, clearly indicating he thinks he can bring about positive change. "My involvement with organizations such as those occupies a lot of my energies these days, and to me it's among the most important work I do. It feels good to be able to effect some real good."
Peter Potterfield, MountainZone.com Staff