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Alex Lowe Feared Dead in Avalanche

Alex Lowe, one of America's strongest and best-known climbers, is presumed dead after an avalanche struck on 26,291-foot Shishapangma in Chinese Tibet on October 5 (Tibet time). Also missing and presumed killed is high-altitude cameraman Dave Bridges. The massive avalanche struck the climbers above Advance Base Camp on the upper slopes of the mountain, according to Andrew McLean, leader of the 1999 American Shishapangma Ski Expedition.

Alex Lowe
Lowe, 40, of Bozeman, Montana, and Bridges, 29, of Aspen, Colorado, were members of the Shishapangma expedition, which hoped not only to climb the 14th highest mountain on earth, but also to ski down it. Bridges was part of a three-man film crew that was documenting the climb.

Expedition leader Andrew McLean told via satellite telephone early Tuesday morning (PDT) that Lowe, Bridges and Colorado climber Conrad Anker were caught in the same big avalanche above Advance Base Camp. McLean reported Anker, a member of this spring's Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition to Mount Everest, was "pretty beat up" but not seriously injured. Lowe and Bridges have not been found.

Dave Bridges
Dave Bridges
Reports from expedition members still on the mountain stated that the climbing team had split off into two groups, from their 18,000-foot camp, in search of a route up the mountain. At an approximate altitude of 19,000 feet, with teams located on separate sides of a glacier, the climbers spotted the beginning of the avalanche. Both teams dispersed in an attempt to escape from the massive slide as it traveled 6000 feet towards them. However the avalanche struck one of the groups, which included famed mountaineers Anker and Lowe, as well as climber/cameraman Bridges. Conrad Anker, who survived, was thrown over 100 feet by the avalanche and partially buried. Conrad’s attempts to find his climbing partners were unsuccessful.

The rest of the team managed to avoid direct contact with the avalanche but various members were slightly injured with windblast. The remaining members immediately began a search for the victims, but due to hazardous conditions have given up any hope of recovering the bodies and they are presumed buried under the avalanche.

Lowe was widely regarded as one of the strongest of active climbers. His resume of hard alpine climbs stands out among the achievements of other modern climbers. Just his recent highlights include an ascent last August of Great Trango Tower in Pakistan. Other ascents include Kwangde Nup, north face, new route, 5.10, A-3; Kusum Kanguru, north face, new route, solo, both in Nepal. In Alaska, Lowe pulled off a one-day first ascent of Hunter's Moonflower Buttress; in Antarctica, he made numerous first ascents, including Mount Scott, south face, Rakekniven, Queen Maud Land, Minaret, Ellsworth Range; and in Baffin Island, he made the first ascent of Sail Peak. Many of his climbs were made with members of The North Face climbing team, of which Lowe was a long-time member.

A US national paragliding champion, Bridges' Himalayan highlights include reaching the summits of Annapurna IV, Ama Dablam, Baruntse and Makalu. In 1994, he was the Leader of the successful American K2 South Spur Expedition where he personally reached 8,300m.

Memorial Fund Established: A fund has been established for Alex Lowe's three children. Those interested in making a donation can send to: Fund for the Children of Alex Lowe, Care of Norene Bancroft, US Bank, 104 East Main Street, Bozeman, Montana 59715

Honor the Memory, Spirit, and Energy
Lowe Taught Sherpas to Love Espresso
Aspen Paragliding Tribute to Dave Bridges
Climbers: What Next?
Climbers Recount Tragedy
Alex Lowe Interview
Alex Lowe Bio
Dave Bridges Bio


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