Mountain Zone Home

Letters Home

Expedition News

Letters Regarding the Shishapangma Tragedy

March 14, 2000

A letter of thanks –

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you on behalf of my children and myself for all of the kindness and generosity that has been extended to us since my husband Alex Lowe's death in October 1999. Just knowing that Alex touched the lives of so many people around the world brought some solace during a most difficult time of loss.

Most Sincerely,
Jenni Lowe

February 28, 2000

I'm not a real mountain climber in a technical sense, however, I love the mountains and my modest climbs in the Northeast and the local rock gym. One of my other loves is reading, and Jon Krakauer's account of the events on Everest in '96 got me hooked on mountain literature.

Shortly afterward I started to read about Alex Lowe. He became sort of an icon for me, someone I could aspire to be like. Since the tragic events on Shishapangma I've actually cried over some of the accounts of his life and the poignant reminisces of his friends.

As a father of two wonderful young kids his last dispatch from his last expedition really gets me. His life inspires me to be not only the best mountaineer and athlete I can be, but also to pass on to my children the love I have for the hills as he would have done for years to come, given the chance. Please give my condolences to his family and let them know that even people he never met were touched by him and his great spirit.

Don Drosselmeier

December 28, 1999

I am writing this letter partly in hopes of reaching Dave's family and any of his friends I may have met along the way and lost touch with, but mostly to honor one of the most beautiful people I have known.

The last time I saw Dave was nearly five years ago, shortly before my son was born. Our lives had taken sharp turns away from each other, but there was a time when we were practically joined at the hips. Dave and I went to the same high school, but we didn't meet until we were in college and had jobs at the same sporting goods store. I'll never forget the day he came in for his interview. He looked so young and clean cut. He was wearing a tie! I think it was the last time he wore one. Of course, we teased him about it for years to come.

We quickly became friends, and started skiing and rock climbing together. Dave taught me to climb. I had been climbing a few times before, but Dave was the only person I trusted enough to help me really learn the art. He was the most honest and trustworthy person I have ever met.

For nearly two years, Dave, our closest friend Denise, and I spent every waking (besides school) moment together. If we weren't climbing and camping in Joshua Tree, we were skiing in Mammoth, hiking the local ski hills on a full moon, talking about philosophy, rafting illegally at night in Yosemite, or even doing some mild eco-terrorism . We knew how to have fun!

Before I moved to Washington to finish school, we went on a sports-filled road trip through 8 states and Canada. We climbed, snowboarded, bicycled and backpacked. I have albums full of pictures documenting the time I shared with Dave. I have more memories than I can handle at times. I can honestly say that it was the best time of my life. I was fully alive then. Dave was inspiring in this way. He never stopped moving - there was too much to see and experience. And yet, in all of his moving, there was a certain calm about him. He moved through life respectfully and even delicately, but with purpose. It is sufficient to say only that, "He lived!"

And in his death, though I would rather he were standing here in front of me, he still inspires me to live - not to be afraid of life. I see a little bit of him in my son, and I wonder how his family goes on without him. And then I only have to think of Dave or look at a picture of him hanging on a rock, and he is not gone at all. He is in my heart, right were he has always been.

My thoughts go out also to the family and friends of Alex Lowe. If he was a friend of Dave's, I am sure that he was an exceptional and kind man.

Elaine Waller
Albuquerque, NM

December 6, 1999

The deaths of Alex and David have been very devastating to many in the climbing community, and Alex in particular will always remain a hero to me. My utmost respect goes to all who knew and climbed with them.

Thousands have died from avalanches over the years, and all climbers who wager their lives in this mountain pursuit must face the menace of avalanches, and understand that even the best of us, like Alex, may fall victim; our self-contrived protective bubble does not occupy a space outside of our minds.

McLean describes, "even if we had been wearing would have been a grim matter of body recoveries." That is about as valid a statement as saying we shouldn't wear seatbelts because you'll die in a 90mph collision anyway. McLean admits that avalanches are unpredictable; the unintentional avalanche hitting them "at ground zero" could have just as effortlessly hit them indirectly, in which case beacons might have helped to save a climber from death.

So, Andrew McLean, please don't publish rubbish. The "simplified answer" that the party wasn't expecting an avalanche and that "the sky was clear and sunny" tops my list as one of the most stupid statements I have heard from any a mountaineer.

The facts are out, people: avalanches don't discriminate, and will take Alex as easily as they'll take a person like you or me. If, as McLean writes, not expecting an avalanche is now an excuse for slackness I'm afraid he has a great deal more to explain than the three necessary components of an avalanche.

The Question of Avalanche Preparedness? – Nature controls them, and climbers do whatever the heck they can to live through them.

Sean Whalley, 18

November 30, 1999

I think the most responsible statement would have been to say: "We were wrong. When traveling in the mountains, on or near slopes that are avalanche prone, you should wear a beacon."

The adage "on in the car, off at the bar" might not be applicable in the Himalayas, but the teen snowboarders who surf to don't need impressive descriptions of avalanches, they need to be told that if you screw up once in the mountains, it may be your last screw up.

Dorn Van Dommelen

November 27, 1999

I ran into an old elementary school pal at a sporting goods trade show a couple of years ago. We met near where Alex Lowe was giving a demonstration on a portaledge assembly. As I stood there in awe my friend asked me "Who is that guy and what the heck is he doing"? I laughed because Alex had this tremendous smile on his face as he attempted to assemble this contraption over the crowd that had gathered. I told my friend "That's Alex Lowe one of the best mountaineers in the world". Although I never knew Alex I was saddened by the loss of this great man. I followed his adventures and read of his live saving heroics.

I sympathize with the Lowe family for the loss of their father and husband - and hope that the Lowe children will lead happy and fulfilling lives. I am sure that Alex will always be in their hearts.

Timm Fenton

November 22, 1999

I wanted to thank you for publishing the video memorial of Alex Lowe and commend you on the tasteful manner in which you portrayed, in my mind, the greatest alpinist of our time. It brought a sense of closure to the tragedy for me personally. My sympathy goes out to the families of the victims, but I know the experiences they've shared with the climbing community and general public will be forever seeded in our hearts and spirit. And that spirit is a gift that can be summoned in our daily lives forever.

Jason Smith

November 16, 1999

I just arrived home from my annual two months in the Colorado Rockies, guiding elk hunters and hiking up peaks. My homecoming became a much sadder thing when I learned that these two exceptional people would not be enjoying another homecoming. My sincerest sympathy goes out to their friends and family.

I have always been inspired by people who make the most out of life, acting on their dreams. Certainly these two did just that and I hope that in the sadness and grief that follows their deaths we can all remember that their lives and how they lived are an awe inspiring memory.

Tales of Alex Lowe and his feats certainly gave me inspiration to follow my dreams. I even increased my training program when I read accounts of his pull-up sessions. Any first ski descents i have achieved and future ones I dream of owe something to people who have inspired me and no one could be more inspiring than Mr. Lowe.

He was certainly the Michael Jordan of the climbing world and his family's loss is shared by many, although no one could feel the loss more than his wife and children. To them I say thank you for sharing him with the mountains and the people whose dreams revolve around the high places of the world. My heart goes out to you.

J. Watt
Ely, Nevada

November 16, 1999

I've been seeing a lot end-of-the-century lists of the greatest athletes of the past 100 years and it made me think that there are so many athletes outside of "organized" sports that should be considered for that honor.

Alex Lowe would easily make my Top 50 list, if we measure the athlete by the level of challenge and his or her response to it.

It's unfortunate that, outside of those of us who view the world from the summit or gaze with wonder at those who scale the heights above us, Alex Lowe and others who have sacrificed their lives for their passion are not as widely recognized for their efforts as "organized" sports figures.

M. Burneko
Columbia, Maryland

November 13, 1999

Dear Mountain Zone,

My family and I are still in shock of the death of Alex. I have many fond memories of my uncle, and I feel privileged to have been so close to him. The upwelling of support from people around us in this tragedy has been astounding. Reading emails from people all over the world helps to lift my spirits and I thank everyone for their kind words. My uncle truly was an inspiration to the world and to myself. I encourage people to pause and look back on my uncle's life, for he lived life to the fullest degree.

I am truly impressed by the coverage of the Shishapangma Expedition tragedy on the website. You have certainly captured and expressed the spirit of my uncle.

My sympathies go out to the family of David Bridges. My family and I know the grief you are feeling. We give you strength to move on in life in memory of David and Alex.


Alex Lowe (Junior)

November 9, 1999

How many people do you meet only once, yet feel real sorrow when they are gone? Alex was one of those people, one of very few who inspire you to become a better person yourself.

Thanks for that final gift, Alex.


Midland, Texas

November 7, 1999

Dear Mountain Zone,

It's been a month since Alex Lowe's passing, and I wanted to compliment you on the excellent job you did covering this saddest of stories. The tribute to Alex also was excellent.

This event reminds us that the mountains are uncaring and indiscriminate — they can take any of us at any time. Alex lived his life doing what he loved. I pray that all of us could be so lucky.

My heart goes out to his wife and children, and all who knew him. I met Alex a few times, and was overwhelmed by his energy and enthusiasm. He was a vibrant, caring, and wonderful person. His memory will live on in all of us.

So long, Alex. We'll miss you.

Jim Fraser
Palatine, Illinois

November 5, 1999

Hi, I don't climb but I do know the Lowe family very well. I live in Bozeman and I feel so sorry for his boys whenever I see them. After the initial shock of his death I learned that it wasn't a time to be sad but a time to Remember Alex and his ambitions. He always had a positive view on life and always gave it his all. He was always very careful when he climbed, for his kids' sake.

It seems like only yesterday when He and Max were at my house asking about Hockey equipment and talking about a recent climb. I'm just sad that his kids will grow up without a dad, and I feel especially sad for his wife, being alone. I'm thankful that I knew him, not as a great climber but a great friend and father to his kids.

Mckenzie Ball, 13
Bozeman, MT

October 31, 1999

Dear community:

For all my life, I've been blessed with sensibility of and love for nature. Because of not being able to do mountaineering due to my poor tolerance of high altitudes, I did caving instead. But for two years I was an avid follower of Alex Lowe's climbs.

My friends and I were very shocked after hearing of Alex Lowe's death. Every time we read about his achievements he took us with him to the top of the mountains and walls he climbed.

Alex will be a constant reminder of the incredible heights the human soul can reach, and his memory will be with us when we face our live's own walls.

I'll pray to God to give his children understanding for their dad's passion for the mountains.

Francisco Franco
Chihuahua, Mexico

October 30, 1999

I am deeply saddened by the loss of these two amazing men. I cannot express enough my sympathy for these two families. I did not know either personally, but feel the deepest lost.

I am from Bozeman and have seen the Lowe family around town. Alex was an inspiration to me, as a climber and as a human being. In 1992 I traveled to the Arctic to climb, it was the most beautiful experience in my life. I felt so proud of Alex when he traveled to Baffin Island. I guess that was my connection to Alex.

My climbing partner has been quite shaken by this tragedy, like all in the climbing community and Bozeman. We have lost two amazing people, but their memories will be in our hearts forever.

My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these two truly inspirational men.

Climb On

October 26, 1999

Dear Mountain Zone!

I think you have all done an excellent job with your reporting of the tragic happening with Alex and David. I never had the pleasure of meeting either one of them, nor am I mountain climber. But I do live in Kalispell, MT, so for some reason, that makes me feel close to them both.

I did have a comment to make on Hans Saari's notes on the day of the avalanche. He stated that two goraks, Tibetan ravens, landed in the middle of their tents. It reminded me of a couple of years ago when my son was with friends putting up a memorial to three friends who drowned in a sailboat accident in Lake Koocanusa, at Rexford, MT. Just as they were setting up the memorial, three eagles came flying from behind the clouds and swooped down and around the area. I really believe it was more than just eagles, and it makes me believe it was more than just ravens. Strange, huh?

Thanks for your time.

Arlene Clarke

October 25, 1999

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for your kind words and support over the past couple of weeks. It's been nice to hear from each of you, expressing your respect and admiration of Dave as a friend as well as a pilot, climber and skier.

Dave's family of friends here in Aspen will be celebrating his life at a Memorial Service for him on October 30th. The service will be hosted by John Wilcox at the Pine Creek Cookhouse, located near the end of Castle Creek Road, 12 miles out of Aspen (about a half hour drive from town). This gathering will begin around 2pm.

We encourage you to bring stories of Dave's many adventures and escapades, and pictures of Dave in the places he loved.

Thanks again for all your support. We hope to see you all in Aspen this October 30th to share our love for Dave.

Best wishes,
Dick Jackson and the Pilots and Guides at Aspen Paragliding and Aspen Expeditions

October 25, 1999

I would like to take a moment to commend the decision to withhold the news of the accident killing Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges until the families had been informed of the incident.

Your company made an important ethical decision that the right of the public to know did not justify needlessly hurting the families of those lost in the accident. I applaud your decision and thank you for upholding the standards of journalistic integrity that far too often seem to slip in our increasingly connected world.

James W. Brown
London, England

October 25, 1999

As a teenager, I always dreamt of climbing to the top of Everest or other great mountains, but my life took a different turn and that was not to be, but I always followed the climbing experiences of my favorite climbers, Scott Fischer was my all time hero and Alex Lowe followed and now they are both gone. My deepest sympathies to the families of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges.


October 21, 1999

I was deeply moved by the loss of David Bridges and Alex Lowe. I am not a climber. I am one of the many who stands at the base of the mountain and wonders. Correspondent Michael Brown wrote that there was some indecision about whether or not to finish the film that Dave and Alex were in the process of making in Tibet. I hope that the film will not only be finished but celebrated around the world. It is a chance for all of us to see their mountain — to be inspired to climb our own. It is a chance to celebrate the lives of two men, who many like me will think about every day, even though we never met them.

Tom Sebastian
San Francisco

October 20, 1999

I first met Dave Bridges 12 years ago in the Mountain Room bar in Yosemite National Park. Dave was a young impetuous 17-year-old who seemed far more mature and experienced than his years. In fact, I was just learning how to climb and Dave and his partner Darryl Macias had just finished climbing the regular route on Half Dome. Dave and Darryl took me under their wing and taught me the joy of rock climbing and, later, mountaineering, backcountry skiing and paragliding. But more than that, Dave became one of my closest and best friends.

Since his death, I have spent a great deal of time with his family while we coped with the prospect of living our lives as fully and completely as Dave taught us. On behalf of Dave's family and myself and those that loved Dave, I want to take the time to thank everyone who has called, written, dropped by, or even simply thought a few kind thoughts. The outpouring of support and love can only be described as tremendous and now I know that Dave has given us another in a long line of gifts; an opportunity to meet many wonderful and remarkable people who were also touched by Dave's infectious enthusiasm.

Dave's family, friends and I want everyone to know that Dave, the humble, unassuming person that he was, would never want anyone to feel sadness at his passing. He always had the same approach when we lost a friend or dealt with some otherwise sad event; you could count on him to say 'grab your rock shoes or ice tools, strap on those skis or trail running shoes, let's get outside.' Dave would be touched if that is how we chose to honor him.

To the family and friends of Alex Lowe, our sincerest condolences. Dave was so proud to be climbing with Alex and from what I hear, the two of them were a lot alike. The mountain gods have welcomed two strong climbers and there are now no limits to the number of peaks that they can bag.

Joel Koury

October 20, 1999


I just finished reading an article in Wired magazine on your webcasting of the Shishapangma climbers. I thank you for your decision to wait until the relatives of the two lost climbers were notified before posting the information on your site. It is good to see any sort of media thinking about the people they affect and taking responsibility for their actions. You made a good decision, and I just wanted to thank you for it.

Susan Gordon

October 18, 1999

"The mountains are the means, the man is the end.
The idea is to improve the man, not to reach the
top of mountains. Climbing only makes sense if
you consider the man..."

- Walter Bonatti

Consider Alex... climbing makes sense...

Shane Cooper
South Africa

October 18, 1999

It's now two weeks since the terrible news of these two men's deaths and I still have a hard time believing it is true. Although I did not know Dave, my condolences to all who knew him. I first met Alex in, of all places, Patriot Hills, Antarctica, where I was a cook at the camp. Alex had the largest smile on his face from the moment the Herc landed until, I believe, the moment he boarded the plane again to make it home for Christmas with his family. This was very important to him, and he was noticeably concerned that he may not make it home in time due to poor weather on the ice.

During the time he was in our camp was often in the mess tent with me and we got to exchange stories, mostly of Montana and the Beartooth Wilderness, of climbs we had done and of those to come. As a matter of fact, Alex eventually made one of these climbs we talked of the following summer, which inspired many local climbers to get after it! We were saying we better climb some of this stuff before Alex gets to it. I will always have memories of my time on the ice, like doing pull ups before dinner in the only solid shelter in our camp, the cessna hanger, which we renamed "The Alex Lowe Memorial Gym". The stories of his incredible upper body strength are true.

A group of us even had a pre-Xmas toast in an old tunnel system under the snow, with a bottle of champagne. During a tragedy that we experienced during their stay, Alex and Conrad showed great emotional strength and helped all of us in camp to get through it. He went out of his way to pitch in, in those terrible few days. The man I got to know during his trip to the ice, and a visit to his home, was always humble, always grateful for the life and family he had, and always emitting a great warmth and spirit, that I believe will be his lasting legacy — beyond his near mythical mountain abilities.

This is evident by the outpouring of sympathy and stories following his death. I have on my wall a picture taken from the air of Alex, Conrad, and Steve Pinfield standing on top of The Minerett – the first ascent – that I will always hang on to. I read of his climb to the Grand with his son, what a great memory. I, too, lost a father at an early age and know the difficulties of growing up without one. I cherish the memories I have. To Jennifer, whom I've only briefly met last winter, my very deepest sympathies during these tragic times. My thoughts are with your family. To Conrad, when I first heard the news I thought that you had been swept away, too. I was relieved to learn you had been spared, to tell the stories.

Michael Holmes

October 15, 1999

I am a 69-year-old grandmother and I have never climbed a mountain, but my heart and spirit were with Alex as he climbed. Perhaps he climbed for people like me — people who live in the flatlands and only dream of mountains. I send my prayers to his beloved wife and boys. How proud they must be! My God bless and watch over them in the lonely years ahead.


October 15, 1999

After hearing of the sad news I feel the need to write a few lines on the issue.

Being a climber for years, I can subscribe right away to every word Alex Lowe expressed in the interview about his feelings for climbing. Climbing is not a sport, it does not lend itself to competition for it is too subjective. It is a way of life. But having once chosen and living it we must accept everything that comes along. A possibility of an injury or even a death is a part of it. On every trip I have been on, I have always kept in mind that these are the mountains and I am here to try to understand them and maybe they will talk to me. They have a right to refuse and in such a case I must be prepared to accept it and pay their price for they are greater than any man.

Twelve years ago, during an attempt to ascend Grandes Jorasses in the Alps, we traversed a snow plateau and triggered an avalanche. I was lucky to jump off and secure myself but my fellow climber and best friend was caught in the snow stream and pulled down and away. He disappeared forever and his body was never found. I was deeply shaken for a considerable time but in spite of that, did not quit climbing. Why? I am not sure. Strangely enough, from that time on I felt even more need to climb than ever before.

Perhaps it is the love that we climbers feel for the mountains which cannot be compared to anything else, maybe only their greatness that drives us to go there and do what others regard as tempting fate. Alex and Dave were climbers, they were aware of these things. Their love for the mountains was stronger then any thought prompting to stay away and the mountains took their toll. I am sure Alex and Dave died in peace for the death hit them doing what they loved and the mountains are around them. If I could choose my death, I would choose Dave's and Alex's destiny.

My thoughts are with their families. Peace to you all.
Thank you.

Jan Lando
Czech Republic

October 14, 1999


We just wanted to send our condolences to everyone involved with the Shishapangma expedition; it has really hit home to our group, as we will be attempting to climb and ski Shishapangma this April - although via the standard route. So we have become very familiar with the team and their efforts. It will be difficult to make our attempt with Alex and David still on the mountain and we will definitely be thinking of them.

Mike Marolt
Aspen, Colorado

October 11, 1999

I first met Alex Lowe in the weight room at Montana State University, in about 1986. He was working on one-arm pull-ups while I struggled with the free weights. This man Alex amazed me with his strength. How could anybody smile while attempting a one arm pull-up? Well, I soon discovered that Alex always smiled.

Now, 13 years later, I read about Alex in National Geographic, then later in Outside magazine. "Wow I knew that guy," I told my wife. "He always smiled, even doing one arm pull-ups!" The last I read about Alex was his taking his son to the top of the Grand. We all knew Alex as the guy with the great big smile. And I am confident he is still passing that warm, confident smile on to the rest of us whom always wished we could do at least one, one-arm pull-up.

Matt Rothermel
Kalispell, Montana

October 11, 1999

I have always loved mountains and the outdoors. Climbing to the top of something wasn't a sport or a challenge, it was just something that needed to be done. When I began climbing seriously I was inspired by men like Alex Lowe. As the son of a photographer, and an amateur photographer myself, I was often more inspired by men like Dave Bridges, who not only had to keep up with the greats, but had to do it with one eye in a view finder and an extra 40 pounds of gear on his back.

Everyone has a hero. Everyone has someone whose accomplishments they aspire to achieve and whose strengths they wish to emulate. However when that hero is taken in the pursuit of that course which the rest strive to follow, we inevitably ask the question "Is it worth it?" Could they have accomplished more through a long life of comfortable mediocrity than a brief life during which they showed us that there were no acceptable limits?

The critics will say that such pursuits are a waste, never having enjoyed the heightened sense of life they bring. The fanatics will say that there is no life outside these pursuits, perhaps never having enjoyed such simple pleasures as family. I will say that I don't know the answer to this questions. I simply respect the rights of every person to live life on their own terms and the courage of those who actually do so.

The night that this tragedy was reported on the news, it was followed by a story of a man having been shot at a gas station for no reason. I believe that time is the only thing that is truly ours. The greatest tragedy in life is not making the most of it.

I thank the Lowe and the Bridges families for allowing so many to be inspired by the lives of their loved ones.

Kenny Newbry

October 11, 1999

As I sit in silence surfing for updates I am filled with sadness at the loss of such fine young men. I became aware of this devastating news late last night. Although I never had the chance to meet Alex I felt a bond based on a love for mountains and climbing. My climbs were not epic to many but they served a purpose for me. I felt more alive on a climb than I ever felt in a classroom. The sense of anxiety, teamwork and physical exertion are what makes climbing a unique and rewarding endeavor. It is not for everyone as few can handle the rigors of such feats. Alex was in a world of his own and those of us who followed his journeys felt we were there with him. God scooped him up in a powdery descent as he had accomplished everything he had planned for him. But alas Jennifer is left to carry on and three children so greatly adored will be without a father. I wish I could extend the words to soothe your pain and that of the loved ones left behind but I can't. Find solace in the fact that so many were touched by these adventurous souls. They always seemed to be above me and now they will be for eternity. May God bless the loved ones of our lost comrades.

David Koehler
Business Instructor

October 11, 1999

I know exactly what everyone is going through. Last year I lost my two best friends in a ice climbing accident in Banff, Alberta, where a three ton chunk of ice just broke off and crushed the belay and her partner. I ended up with two broken legs and a back and am now paralyzed from the waist down.

I give all my wishes to the friends and family of all the members who were all part of this accident.

Thank You

October 10, 1999

"So, as you would imagine, I grew up exuberant in body but with a nervy craving mind. It was wanting something more, something tangible. It sought for reality intensely, always as if it were not there... But you see at once what I do. I climb."
—John Menlove Edwards

Simply stated. These were men of honor, conviction and worthy of the utmost respect. They were what we all should strive to become. They lived the driving force within them and how beautiful a journey it was. That which we dream of is born from the heart, we must believe in our dreams as Alex and Dave were able to do. I consider it an honor to have had these unique men in this precious world for the ever so short time they were with us. Their memories and dreams will never leave us. To all climbers and adventurers, keep Alex, Dave, and your dreams alive. Climb On.

My constant thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Alex and Dave. You are all in our hearts.


October 10, 1999

Dave Bridges is my cousin and it is the most amazing thing to me to be able to see the closeness and caring of the climbing community, I live far from family and cannot be with them now. It is a wonderful thing to be able to read about what they were doing, see photographs of Shishapangma (beautiful) and be able to check in daily just to see.

My cousin soared in all that he did and was, he had wisdom and heart un-comparable. I prefer to stay close to the ground myself, but, through David, feel that I was able to touch the sky. I honestly do not know anyone else who so thoroughly knew what they wanted and did it 100%. I know he is on the top of the highest of mountains surrounded by many who love him and I am absolutely grateful to our Creator that he graced my life with Dave's presence (although in my selfishness I wish it had been for just a little longer). There is a pink flamingo in heaven's tallest mountain tonight!!!

Thank you again for the awesome show of support for these men, my condolences to Alex Lowe's family, to have had such people in our lives is such a gift. Reach for the stars and you will reach them. Thank you again for this forum.

Veronica Hutchinson

October 10, 1999

As an elementary school teacher, I don't know how I am going to tell my students about this terrible tragedy. The only way I can think of is to tell them the truth. We were talking about mountain climbing and the risks involved last week in class as part of our geography unit. I was surprised as to how many students knew about mountain climbing and the risks involved. They could even give me names of climbers. My sincere sympathy goes out to all those people whose lives have been touched by them. They will be in my prayers, as will their families and friends. May you all find the strength to be strong and keep their memories alive in your hearts.

Sharon Hubbard
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Any of us that go into the mountains take a risk.... We calculate the risks against the rewards. If you are not prepared for the consequences you should not take the risk. I am saddened by what has befallen many of my fellow friends in the climbing community, however we all have taken the risks, some have paid dearly for these, some more than others. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these men that were killed. To Alex and Dave, you two have mede the ultimate sacrifice doing what you deemed what you thought was important. I think everybody hopes to go out doing what they love..... These two did just that.

You will be sadly missed
Matt Smith
Kelowna, Canada

October 10, 1999

To Alex Lowe:

A heartfelt thanks for sharing your infectious exuberance for life, love and family. Your empathy and humility serve as a deep inspiration to all those who harbor a deep and abiding passion for the mountains and the natural world - for those who endeavor to tread lightly and leave nary a trace. Though we must bid farewell to the voice, we shall never bid adieu to the soulful spirit.


October 10, 1999

I first started climbing and exploring the backcountry while living in the Bozeman area and soon discovered there was no place you could go where Alex Lowe had not already left his mark. I admired him mostly because he seemed to understand that climbing was about fellowship and fun, about pursuing those ephemeral moments that fill your soul like nothing else on earth. About a year ago I taught a friend of mine the basics of rock climbing and he soon immersed himself in the climbing lifestyle with a familiar mania, even choosing a hero and adopting a mantra for every time he needed to make a difficult move or succeed on a route with challenges greater than any he had previously encountered. And to this day he still grits his teeth, reaches for some nubbin of rock that may or may not be within his reach, and whispers "Alex Lowe."

To paraphrase Eric Shipton: "nobody and nothing can ever take away from us the fact that, if only for a moment, we have truly lived our lives." It might be a cliché to say that Alex and Dave left this world doing the things they loved, but just because something is cliché doesn't make it untrue. They enjoyed a lifetime of those sublime moments and we shouldn't grieve for that. However, my thoughts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones and I send them my deepest sympathy.

Kirk Rosenbaum

le 9 octobre 1999

Átous les amateurs de montagne et d'escalade,
To all mountains lovers and climbers,

La Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l'escalade (FQME) se joint à vous tous pour pleurer la disparition d'un des plus grands grimpeurs de la planète, Alex Lowe, ainsi que de celle de Dave Bridges. Alex Lowe était plus qu'un grimpeur, il était devenu une légende reconnu pour ses performances, mais aussi pour son côté humain et sa joie de vivre. Cette tragédie laissera un grand vide dans notre communauté.

Au nom de tous les membres de la FQME, je tiens à offrir mes plus sincères sympathies à son épouse et ses enfants ainsi qu'á l'ensemble de sa famille et á tous ses amis.

Isabelle Gauthier

The Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l'escalade share the pain with all of you for the tragic death of one of the best climber of the planet, Alex Lowe, and of his friend Dave Bridges. Alex Lowe was more than a climber, he was a legend know for his performance, but also for his joy of life. In the name of all the members of the FQME, I want to offer my sympathy to his wife and kids, to all his family and friends.

Isabelle Gauthier

October 9, 1999

The deepest sympathy to families A. Lowe and D. Bridges and their friends.

From Milan Smilka, M.D., Slovak Republic, successful climber of Shishapangma, Sept. 1998

October 9, 1999

I am not a mountaineer but I am a great fan of all those who climb, especially in the Himalaya. Sadness is the only word I can find for both of the climbers. It is dangerous now and it always will be ... and they lived a live that regards everybody's respect.

The have lived a life ... in the greatest way you can live...

To all the related family my condolences and share in sadness.

Aart Hennekes
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

October 9, 1999

I never met Alex. The closest I came was when I was trying climbing for the first time last summer in the Tetons and he was there. Just being in his proximity made me feel special. I composed a tribute to him:

He has climbed Everest two times, guided all over the world, and has done more first ascents than he cares to, or could, remember. Yet Alex Lowe's most prized climb was guiding his 10-year-old son up the Grand Teton, a mountain he could all but sprint up. That was the kind of man Alex was. He hated leaving his three children at home when he went on climbs. In an interview with he said, "My family is the most rewarding thing in my life."

He was not the law evading; cigarette smoking bum that many climbers are portrayed to be. He was a great person. His climbing accomplishments, however, paled in comparison to his personality. But on October 5, 1999 at 9:20 in the morning Nepal time, Alex was killed doing what he loved most. Alex, climber Conrad Anker and high-altitude film crew member Dave Bridges were climbing at 19,500 feet on Shishapangma, the world's 14th highest mountain. They sighted the beginnings of an avalanche at 25,000 feet. The three started running to get clear of the snow that would come pouring down the mountain in a matter of seconds. Alex and David went one way, and Conrad the other. The avalanche, traveling at over 100 miles per hour, was 500 feet wide, and it hit all three of them. A badly bruised Conrad Anker could not find any signs of life in the avalanche path. Alex Lowe and film crew member David Bridges were dead.

The rest of the team spent over 20 hours searching for the two climbers. It became apparent however, that they were not going to find a living person. One of Alex's former climbing partners, Gordon Wiltsie, says, "I think that moments before this happened, he was probably immensely excited and happy." Alex had said that if he were to ever die in the mountains, he would like to be left there. His teammates honored that wish. The team went down to camp where the team members stayed up late into the night, telling stories about their two fallen friends.

Alex's climbing resume is one of the best and most diversified of current mountaineers. Only two months ago he climbed the Trango Tower a 6,000-foot wall in Pakistan. He has climbed the north face of the Matterhorn solo; he has many first ascents in Antarctica and has climbed Everest twice. As long time climbing partner and friend Conrad Anker put it, "We're all at this one level, and then there's Alex."

The mountaineering community is mourning the death of a star. Alex Lowe was one of the greatest mountaineers, and a great person.

I would like to extend my condolences to the Lowe family.

Philadelphia, PA.

October 8, 1999

Mountain Zone,

I am extremely saddened by the sudden loss of lives of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges.

I had come to know about amazing life of Alex Lowe after his successful climb of Trango Towers. Even though I knew little about him, I had developed deep respect for him (and all others who have used purest means to tackle nature). I had come to realize how unparalleled his climbing skills were and am saddened to know that World has lost one of the greatest climbers.

I admire the courage of such men and even though I don't climb, they inspire me to live my life to the fullest extent possible within my capabilities. I express my sincere sympathies to families of Dave Bridges and Alex Lowe.

I am sure their souls are resting in peace.

Dharmesh Jani

October 8, 1999

Life is short, and those two knew what it meant to live life to its regrets.

Karen Stermitz
"live life bigger than big"

October 8, 1999

We are deeply saddened by the loss of these two exceptional men. Their deaths stop us. We are forever changed. Our lives can never go back to the way that we were before.

Perhaps it will be that our lives will become more fully realized for having known them. Their passing reminds us that this is a precious gift, this life, and we have the opportunity to wake up to that gift, today, now, in the moment, tomorrow and in our futures.

Let us look into the faces of our Friends, Family and those in our community and notice that all life is precious. Tell those you care about that you Love them. Let us not waste this gift.

Dear Alex and Dear Dave, your souls continue to live among us. Please help guide us on this most auspicious journey.

Salt Lake

October 8, 1999

To the families, friends, and followers of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges:

I had the opportunity to meet Alex at a talk he gave at the the Mountaineers in Seattle. He treated me with such respect and admiration that I felt like his equal. His humility and kindness were remarkable, and his presence inspired and filled me with life. The pictures he presented and stories he told were simply incredible, and I left his talk realizing how blessed his life was by the wonder and awe involved in his work.

I never had the chance to meet Dave Bridges, but my condolences go out to his family and friends.

As you may have read in Hans Saari's account, shortly after the tragedy on Shishapangma two goraks (Tibetan ravens) landed at one of the high camps. I can't help but think that their arrival is a symbol from the spirit world reminding us that life is circular, that our spirits never die but rather move from the physical to the spiritual dimension. Thus the Buddhist saying:
Life is endless.
So we never die,
We were never truly born.
May we cherish the wandering spirits and remember the wonderful live of these two great men.

Jonathan George

October 8, 1999

As a South African who lives in a tropical climate, perhaps is a strange site to be my favourite, but it is. I respect and admire the great climbers that I have only read about or read their dispatches. I therefore feel compelled to express my deepest sympathies to Alex Lowe's wife and children on his tragic passing. He reached the heights of life on this planet and his loss is our loss too.

Shelley Gielink
Durban, South Africa

October 8, 1999

Why should I post this at the Mountain Zone? I suppose I want the family of Dave and Alex to know the global fraternity of climbers is mourning the loss of two of our finest.

I went to high school with Dave, but never really met him until we continually ran into each other during winters in Josh. I haven't seen Dave since his return from K2, but continuously hear of his accomplishments through our mutual friends. Like many people this week I am remembering one heck of a fine climber. I have no idea how the families and close friends of both Dave and Alex will deal with this tragedy, but please know how many lives they have both touched and know each of us are sending our warm thoughts and we pray for your strength.

Craig Hobart
So. Calif

October 8, 1999

We are shocked and saddened by the news of the deaths of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges. We were fortunate to have Alex give a slide show for our mountain shop in Juneau last spring. He was kind enough to work with us to donate all the proceeds of the show to a close friend of ours who is undergoing treatment for leukemia. He took time to ask about her and signed a poster to be sent to her in the hospital. As I rolled it up to mail it to her the day after the show, I noticed that he had written "Nancy--Live every moment to the fullest, Alex Lowe". And so he did.

Betsy Fischer
Foggy Mountain Shop
Juneau, Alaska

October 8, 1999

Dear Editor,

I'm still reeling with shock at the deaths of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges. Although I did not know Dave, I did have the pleasure of meeting Alex briefly before a seminar that he gave in New Hampshire several years ago. Aside from his amazing accomplishments, I was impressed more by the sincerity and humility that he displayed when addressing the audience. I remember clearly his opening line to the audience, "Why are all you people here listening to me? ... you should be out climbing!" During that seminar, Alex regarded everyone in the room as equals, himself included, regardless of ability or accomplishments.

My heart goes out to the families of Alex and Dave, may their memories endure in the hearts of the people they touched.


October 8, 1999

I bite my lower lip, feel the sting in my eyes, tears welling up, piling on, saturated in a deep sadness, loss, and heavy heartbreak. It's days later and I'm still suspended in disbelief. This despite the countless conversations with friends and colleagues from work and play, and the many phone calls I've received, replete with well-wishes and concern. And I have so little to do with any of it--the force of nature, power of mountains, and fate, fate, fate. I assuage myself regularly but only temporarily, relying on that mystery destiny to make sense of it, again only temporarily.

But then I think of the faces of so many that I know stung by similar heartbreak, feeling a similar void. And mostly I think of Jennifer, Isaac, Max, and Sam because I know what their faces look like. I don't know Dave or his family or lover, and I don't know the depth of anyone's shock, horror, sadness, and solitude, but that of my own. It's all too overwhelming, anyway, to fathom much outside myself.

Nearly every thought is images of Alex, Dave and Conrad...Shishapangma...Kris, Hans and Mark hunkered down near a boulder...the roar and spit of the avalanche...and my sweet Andrew getting to a safe place just in time. I am the Expedition Leader's girlfriend.

The sadness stretches beyond the deaths of Alex and Dave. It's deepest in my images of the rest of them picking up the pieces in the shadow of the Himalayas, trying to find an element of peace among tragedy and the shattering of dreams laid. It's all so sad. That's what I come back to. It's so very sad.

Diane Maggipinto
Salt Lake City

October 8, 1999

Although I never met Alex, he has always been a great inspiration to me and many, many others as well, not only for his climbing abilities and feats, but for his balance of all aspects of life, for his humility, and especially for his love of family. They, along with Dave's family and friends, are in the thoughts of many people around the world, the climbing community especially. Alex touched the lives of so many, people like myself who never met him, and the many people who had the good fortune to meet him and to be touched by his special soul. My first thoughts were of his family, as we have all heard of his love for his wife and sons. They must know that they are in our thoughts and prayers, and will be always. Neither man will be forgotten. From reading and from stories we've heard from others, it sounds as if Alex went to the mountains for many of the same reasons as the rest of us, and we will not give them up. For being in the mountains means being closer to God's beauty and to God himself, and now being closer to Alex and Dave, who have now climbed and are resting on the highest mountain of all. I will always feel as if they are watching over us as we climb.

Bradley Anderson

October 7, 1999

Alex Lowe was my friend while growing up in Missoula, Montana. We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same Elementary, Junior High and High Schools. At various times, our interests coincided and we were good companions in boy scouts, occasional outdoor activities and band in high school. I left Missoula and moved to Seattle shortly after high school in 1976 and later moved to the Los Angeles area. In adult life, I lost track of this buddy of my youth.

In the early 1990s I was in Phoenix, Arizona, on business and noticed an article in a local newspaper about Alex Lowe, the mountaineer. It promoted a slide show presentation he was conducting on a recent climb that I believe was of Everest. I was touched by the article and felt reconnected to Alex and the nostalgia of being his friend when we were young boys. I was not free to attend the slide show but planned to try to reconnect on my next trip to Montana, to visit family. Unfortunately, I never made that connection, although a few other times I ran across newspaper articles reporting about a recent climb or accomplishment of Alex.

I wanted to acknowledge his accomplishments and remind (and kid him) about an experience we shared in sixth or seventh grade, messing around on a rappelling tower at Fort Missoula, just a bicycle ride from our homes.

We had climbed a ladder on one side of the approximately fifty-foot tower and tied off Alex's rope. We began to take turns rappelling off the vertical boarded-up face of the tower. Alex was teaching me and introducing me to the equipment and techniques of rappelling — and just learning himself. He was as excited about new equipment, ropes etc., as some of my friends in chemistry and physics class were about the their scientific calculators!

On my third trip down, I stopped about eight to 10 feet off the ground and was messing around pushing myself off the wall with my feet, feeling my weight cradled in this unfamiliar gear tied to a rope. On one thrust with my feet I began to spin and was about to crash into the wall on my back and shoulder. Forgetting my circumstance I let go of the rope to extend my arm to the wall and break the impact. Of course, that began a vertical fall and impact that taught me a great respect for the seriousness of concentration required by climbing.

On Alex's descent before heading home, he untied the rope, looped it over a beam, and threw both ends off the tower. Threading both lengths through his gear so that at the bottom he could just pull the rope free without climbing to the top to retrieve the rope. He was about a third of the way down when looking up, I noticed that one end of the rope only reached half the way down to the ground. I caught his attention and made him aware of his problem. No big deal, Alex had some other climbing equipment on him and quickly moved back up the tower wall using finger holds and cracks between the horizontal wood planks. He repositioned the rope and was down the tower.

I recall discussing, on the way home, the lesson we had both assimilated and the respect we both felt toward the discipline of climbing.

I was shocked to read about Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges being lost in an avalanche on Shishapangma in Tibet, barely twenty-four hours earlier, while I was reading the LA Times at breakfast Wednesday, Oct 6th. That evening I did a search on the Internet and located the site sponsoring the Shishapangma trip ( I spent two hours reading the daily journals of the climbers and Alex, and other material dedicated to Alex's wonderful spirit and mountaineering career. I awoke in the morning having dreamt of sorting through climbing equipment and holding an interesting key chain of sorts, made of carabiners, miniature ones similar to the ones we used while rappelling as youths.

The Internet audio/visual replays of interviews with Alex gave me insight into the man that emerged from my friend who I knew as a boy in his youth. In the man was the same spirit and enthusiasm of the boy. In the man was the same quiet confidence and determination as the boy. In the man was the same grin and warming spirit of friendship I knew as a boy.

I have always been moved by the approbation of Moses, to "choose life not death." While some may argue and for some it may be true, that climbers are reckless or tempting fate, for Alex, I believe climbing was a celebration of life — his soul's best effort to sort out the spiritual journey of being. He demonstrated physically what few are able to do in word or deed. As we face the "summit of being" and become serious about knowing and experiencing the spiritual essence of self, we must be fearless and willing to die in the lesser sense of our human self, as we embrace life/spirit/beness. What did the Apostle Paul say? "I die daily."

Alex demonstrated fearlessness in his quest to be alive and embrace life. Why he paid the ultimate price we can never know. But we can know that his is secure in arms of light and love and the ideals he lived. Such a demonstration challenges each of us, perhaps in not such a physical path, to assess how much we are willing to pay the price of letting go of the lesser self and be transformed by our spiritual journey to the summit of being. Alex Lowe was a hero because he was "Alive." His example challenged us and still challenges us, to be "Alive", also.

To Alex's family, his wife and children and close friends, I convey my compassion and sympathy for their loss of Alex, a husband a father and friend. Such pain of separation burdens our souls, and reminds each of us individually of our ultimate vulnerability in separation from God — of the unique spiritual journey, the tests and opportunities we each must face in our path to be whole. Part of the journey today embraces the pain of loss. The promise of reunion through our faith gives us strength to carry on individually in life.

Alex, God bless you. In your youth and your manhood, in your passing, you bear witness to life.

Your Friend,

Raymond Ziemkowski
Los Angeles, California

October 7, 1999

My friends,

I, too, feel a sense of loss with the passing of two of our own. Undoubtedly, echoes of this tragedy will be heard the world over and climbers in even the most remote corners of the earth will raise a glass to Alex and Dave. We as a community are saddened by this tragedy, but no one will feel the loss as much as the families of these two men. These were truly great men, of sport and of character. My deepest sympathies to the families, and all who knew them personally.

In the sanctuary of the high country, the spirits of all beloved climbers will forever live... so long as we vow to revisit them.

Andrew Klos
Normal, Illinois

October 7, 1999

I am writing to express my extreme sadness and condolences to the Lowe and Bridges families for the loss of two extraordinary guys. I have always held Alex Lowe in the utmost respect, both as a climber and as a family man. He was a local Montana celebrity long before being "discovered" by the media and North Face and was truly a humble, unassuming, and genuine human being.

I first met him 15 years ago while bouldering outside Bozeman, both of us alone, with me utterly curious about who this guy was, in bare feet, solving boulder problems that I didn't even know were possible. I have since followed his exploits in the climbing world and like many others who were aware of his mental and physical strength, felt he was indestructible; which makes this loss so unbelievable. My heart goes out to his wonderful wife, artist, climber, and mother Jennifer and their three children, Max, Sam, and Isaac.

Chris Pazder
Helena, Montana

October 7, 1999

Dave Bridges was my friend.

He was always an inspiration in the way he lived for life and burned with all the BTUs he could muster. I recall how deadened he was after the death of another friend and mountain companion, Steve Untch, who died on K2 in '94; Dave was on that expedition as well and helped bury Steve on that mountain. I don't think that ever left him, but it was amazing and heartening to see him forge on. Looking back now, perhaps it was precisely because Steve never left him (or any of us who knew him) that Dave blazed on as he did. His accomplishments in the air, on rock, on snow and ice speak for themselves. He was a true renaissance man.

I don't know many 29-year-olds who were his rival, let alone his equal...myself least of all. I looked up to Dave on all days but one--when I succeeded on a difficult off-the-deck boulder problem we both had been attempting. The B-1 crux came about 15 feet above an ankle-breaking landing. We were in total silence and the competition was heated. Fingertips were shredding and our forearms were reaching the threshold. On what I considered to be my last try, I locked on to the crux hold and found myself pulling through, to the relatively easier climbing above, but well past the point of no return. I froze as my mind suddenly shifted away from the glory of the "stolen" summit to the crippling potential of the rocky landing below — but when I looked down, there was Dave with his arms outstretched, chanting "No way — you got it. You got it." That was one of my finest climbing moments ever, and a memory of Dave I'll always keep — completely in harm's way, shouting encouragement, arms outstretched. I would not have done it without him.

Welcome home, to the range above the grassy plain, Dave. You are loved and missed in this place you only visited.


Chris Persinger
Cora, Wyoming

October 7, 1999

The sadness and tragic loss are more powerful than the avalanche itself. My sympathies go out to the Lowe and Bridges families. There is little else to say......

Andy P.

October 7, 1999

I am at a loss for words after this tragedy. Although Alex was a legend, Dave Bridges was a legend in his own right. I remember him as the enthusiastic "kid" to whom I had the honor of teaching climbing at Joshua Tree. Since then, his voracious appetite for climbing not only drew me to far-flung places around the world with such a fun-loving man, but has also endeared him in the hearts of many others in the Sierra, Rockies, Andes, and Himalaya. Neither Dave nor Alex will ever perish from the hearts of those of us who truly loved them, because the mountains will be constant reminders of their presence. My wife (who I met with Dave!) and I extend to Dave's incredible parents, as well as to his many friends, our deepest sympathy.

Darryl Macias, MD
Albuquerque, New Mexico

October 7, 1999

I feel as though some of the light has gone out of the world with Alex's passing. My life was brighter and better because of the way Alex lived his, and all of us will miss him dearly. My condolences to Jennifer and the boys. He was an extraordinary man, and I feel privileged to have known him.

Bozeman, Montana

October 7, 1999

I have been following the postings about loss of life on Shishapangma. I am not a climber; rather, I enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking. I have also never met any of the climbers who composed the Shishapangma party. However, I respect the drive and spirituality of all adventure sports. Many times people ask me why I enjoy a sport that has the potential to take your life. However, life seems to me more delicately beautiful when you immerse yourself in nature. The inherent risks are not taken lightly, but I respect nature even more for them. It forces me to live more completely and fully. Alex Lowe and David Bridges were disciples of this outdoor religion. They did indeed live completely and fully. Both Alex and David will be missed by all who love nature; they are gone but not forgotten.

My sympathies go out to their families and friends.

Debbie Barclift Adenan
Washington, DC

October 7, 1999

Dear Editor,

I couldn't believe the news that Alex is gone. I was on Everest with Alex in 1993 as a client. Every time Alex and I spoke, he treated me like a long-time friend and equal. I was on top of the Khumbu Icefall and descending to Base Camp. Alex was on his way up in running shoes and had made the ascent in 45 minutes. You truly have to grunt your way through the Icefall to appreciate what Alex had done.

Several years later Alex was in Anchorage giving a slide show. After the show I hung around to say hello. Alex didn't recognize me but after I told him I was a client on Everest in 1993. Once again, he talked to me like we were old friends.

I have never met another like him.

Daryl Bennett
Anchorage, Alaska

October 7, 1999

I was struck by the fact that only one of the letters to the editor you chose to publish about this accident even mentioned Dave Bridges. I do not know the Bridges or the Lowe families but if you choose to publish public condolences I ask that you pay attention to the fact that two people died up there.

Peter Hoskins

Editor's Note: Unless offensive or malicious in intent, all Letters to the Editor are published.

October 7, 1999

I'm not a climber, I actually don't even like heights, but yet I was saddened by the presumed death of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges. I read an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and then visited The Mountain Zone website. I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been for Mr. Lowe and Mr. Bridges to be able to live their lives to the extreme fullest, doing what they loved - climbing. And, if we try to understand why God chose to take them from this place and time, we will only become frustrated, for there is no answer. We should just go on remembering that they died doing what made their lives complete and also remembering the wonderful legacy they leave to their families. My condolences to all those individuals whose lives these two men touched - through each of you, they will not be forgotten!

Bernice Nylander Robinson
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

October 7, 1999

I first heard the news of Alex Lowe in the middle of my Anatomy and Physiology class at Southern Oregon University late yesterday. I have been a climber for a number of years and I idolized Alex. I meet him a few times while climbing around last year. I paid much attention to his ice climbing skills and personality. I just want to say that I really respected him and it's already hard to imagine one of the world's leaders in climbing and mountaineering as gone. But he's not gone from our memories.

-Cj Svela

October 7, 1999

For me, mountaineers like Alex Lowe have always held my highest respect and admiration. It might not be right for a person to look at men like Alex and a few other climbers in such high regard. He was after all, just a man who followed his own path. But in this crooked and corrupt world there are only a few individuals that one can truly respect and admire. When I came home from work on October 5th and read the news, I just couldn't believe it. How could this be...? This world will most certainly be a lesser place without Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges. They were the best and the legacy they leave for us will inspire for a long, very long time. Alex and Dave will not be forgotten. "So long friends, rest in peace"

October 7, 1999

It is hard to describe in words what it feels like to not personally know a man and still have the utter feeling of loss when they are gone. I can only say that I have lived vicariously through many of Alex's adventures, and it is sad to see his life so full of courage and high adventure cut so short. Knowing other members of the team made this tragedy strike home even more. My blessings go out to the families of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges. Both of these men are an inspiration and will continue be for generations.

Bozeman, Montana

October 7, 1999

Mountain Zone,

I am amazed at what connections you have been able to make during this tragedy, thanks to technology, and I would like to add my thoughts and feelings to the list:

Those of us who have had an opportunity to shake Alex's hand, hear some of his stories and perhaps have his autograph in a book feel a loss and a void where someone we've admired is no longer. But we can't imagine the void left in the lives of those who really knew him - who climbed with him, who have trusted him with their lives and their hearts. Those who shared his stories in the making - not just in the telling. His family, children and those who have been on a mountain with him were a part of who he and Dave Bridges were in every dimension. Hopefully we can ease some of their pain by them knowing we are all feeling some of it as well.


October 7, 1999

I send my deepest prayers to Dave's family...may God give you understanding....


October 7, 1999

I can only send my deepest prayers to and for Alex Lowe's family...God be with you...


October 7, 1999

It's ironic that within the last five months we found the greatest climber of his time, George Mallory, and lost the greatest climber of our time, Alex Lowe. It is a sad, but poignant reminder that mountaineering has taken, and will continue to take, the lives of brave men and women. I salute those who undertake challenges to overcome natural obstacles for the sake of feeling alive. When we risk death, we celebrate life. Sometimes we best the mountain, but sometimes it bests us, even when we take reasonable precautions. My sincerest condolences to the families of Alex and David, two men who celebrated life by challenging it to the fullest.

Peter Veregge
Los Angeles

October 6, 1999

To Kent Harvey,
We are deeply sorry about what happened and best wishes to all.

Dave Pizio and Family

October 6, 1999

I've been accessing's site keenly for the Shishapangma team dispatches and feel as if I, too, have gotten to know the guys through the frank chats. From the nonsense on the rest days, to the "getting down to business" on the work days - it was everyone of us sharing in the experience of Shishapangma.

I am deeply saddened by the news of the avalanche that claimed the lives of Alex and Dave and extend deepest sympathy to their families, and also to their Mountain Zone family and friends, their expedition partners and friends. Their deaths will be mourned far and wide. The Buddha said: "Man's body returns to dust, but his influence persists" ... this will surely be true of someone like Alex.


October 6, 1999

Dear Friends

I spent most of my first 30 years climbing and adventuring like there was no tomorrow, and only ten years later did I realize that the best part of it all was the friendships I made along the way.

Ultimately the summits hardly mattered to me — just my friends mattered. And now the friends and family of those two fine people must somehow forge on without them, and this is rugged duty. But that two stars should burn so bright gives us hope that there is more here than just the loss. Their lives will some day be celebrated, but their kids might never understand — till they climb to their own mountaintops. God grant them the power to someday try...I am very sorry.

John Long

October 6, 1999

Dear Mountain Zone,

I can't think of any other place to address my thoughts, so I decided I would send them to you. I am grateful for your putting on the web the accounts given by Alex Lowe's expedition partners. I have been very touched by their thoughts on what happened. My level of climbing is no where NEAR what these gentlemen do, but I too am inspired by being up on a glacier before sunrise.

There are basic elements to mountaineering that draw us to this endeavor: physical exertion, team work, and obviously the surroundings that make one feel that they are in the realm of the Gods. Learning more about Alex Lowe the person (as I have from visiting your website) demonstrates that he was a humble spirit, one who acknowledged and respected with deference the power a mountain holds. In other words, he doesn't seem to be the type who would make hair-balled decisions. He had a touchingly humble perspective on his talents, and I hope the media will not interpret his tragic death as an example of mountaineering hubris. He did not tempt fate, he was just caught in its path. It is a huge loss for the international climbing community, his family and friends.

My warmest condolences to all who knew Alex personally,

Elizabeth Bayley
Seattle, Washington

October 6, 1999

As one who would dearly love to climb the high and windy places, but has been left behind, I would like to express my sorrow, as well. Although I only knew of Mr. Lowe through articles written about him, he seemed to be the kind of person most of us aspire to be. I am truly sorry for his family and for the family of Mr. Bridges. God be with them and all climbers.

Renee Franklin

October 6, 1999

I just began climbing before working for Black Diamond. Immediately I had made friends with Andrew McLean. Asking him about acquiring partners to climb with, he motioned over to someone working in a corner of the machine shop. Introducing myself and letting him know that my highest level at the time was 5.8, he said "Hi, my name is Alex." Andrew couldn't help but break out laughing. So did Alex. After a week, I realized who I was talking to...

The news came over the television and I greeted it with stunning disbelief. The tears keeps welling up but didn't want to fall. Alex's accomplishments seem uncountable, but it was his extension of friendship, advice, and his ever-present smile that stand out with awesome inspirational spirit.

My heart goes forward to Jenny and the Lowe family, I wish I could change this...

Thomas Bengston

October 6, 1999

What a horrible loss... My thoughts and prayers are with the two victims' families. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Alex twice in the last few years. Once, several years back, as he gave a presentation at my school in Missoula, Montana, and then again at a climbing club in London last March. The stories from his climbs were incredible. I'm kind of at a loss for words...I just wish he wasn't gone.

Jeb Spengler

October 6, 1999

Dear Editors,

I am not a mountaineer, a climber, or really much of an outdoor enthusiast. However, I was utterly shocked to read about Alex Lowe this morning.

I first met Alex many, many years ago as we attended the same elementary school, eventually graduating from the same high school. At our subsequent reunions, when asked if anyone knew where Alex was, the answer was "oh, he couldn't be here - he's in Nepal...or Antarctica...or climbing somewhere." And though we would hear of his exploits, I doubt that any of us realized the extent of his talents in this arena. To us, he was, and always will be, just Alex.

Though it's been years since I've spoken with Alex, I can't believe how many times today little memories of him would occur to me. The world has lost so much more than the greatest alpinist. Alex was a rare individual with quick wit, a impish sense of humor, great intelligence and quiet strength. His grit and determination were clearly evident in his successful climbs, but Alex was quite possibly the most gentle human I'll ever hope to meet. He was kind and honest and decent and I know without even having to witness it first-hand, that he was a loving husband and father.

"He died doing what he loved to do," are hollow words to me now and yet, Alex lived life to the fullest, each and every day, with a simple grace and I, along with countless others, will miss him. To Jennifer, Max, Sam and Isaac, I offer my sincere condolences.

Terri Weiler

October 6, 1999

I never knew Alex personally, but from everything I have read, his absolute greatest achievment ever had nothing to do with climbing or mountaineering. It was the love for and of his family and the people of Bogeyman, Montana. I want to express my deepest sympathy to his wife Jennifer and her three sons. He sounded like a great father and husband and I truly hope that they can find peace with the events that have transpired... Here's to Alex Lowe, the greatest family man the climbing world has ever known.

Scott A. Myers

October 6, 1999


It is hard to picture that Alex Lowe is gone. I met him in February of this year and from then on, I never pictured him gone from the world of climbing. During his speeches he seemed so happy about life and climbing. He has been my idol for a while and when I went to yesterday, October 5th, 1999, I felt very sick to my stomach. I suddenly called my mom telling her the shocking news. When I told her she was in awe, also. I asked her, "How can he be gone?" She answered that it is hard to believe, but you will have to face it. I finally realized that he died doing what he loved. I would like to wish the Lowe family my best and hope they get by through this hard time.

Climb on,

October 6, 1999

I have been climbing for a couple of years and have always strived to be like Alex Lowe. Having never met him, his reputation inspired me, whether it be doing 400 pull-ups a day or speed ascents in the Tetons, he epitomized what I thought a hard climber should be. His death is a tremendous loss to the climbing community at large and just shows that no man is stronger than the mountains that he ascends. I send my deepest condolences to his family and to the family of Dave Bridges, may they rest easy knowing both passed on while pursuing there passion. May their spirits live safe in the mountains.


October 6, 1999

This morning I had a real struggle getting my two-year-old son to move through his morning routine. He was having a fit, refusing to cooperate at every turn. As I alternately shouted fruitless instructions and muttered frustrations, I took a moment to gaze longingly up at the mountaineering photos hanging from the wall. be there...right now.

But since the mountains weren't an option for me this morning, I turned on the radio for some distraction and came in midway on the news about Dave Bridges and Alex Lowe. I angrily shushed my screaming son and turned up the volume because I couldn't believe or accept what I was hearing. After several minutes, I realized the devastating finality of what had happened on the mountain yesterday. Mountaineering just lost its very best. I admire Alex not just for his climbing; I have always been more impressed with how his character is best defined by his modesty and his deep love for his family. What a rare combination of qualities.

And so now, hours later, I sit in my office and think about Alex, Dave, and their families. And I think that I'd rather be with my son today than up in the mountains.

I am sorry.


October 6, 1999

Dear Mountain Zone,

This is coming from fans in Utah of the Shishapangma 1999 American Ski Expedition. We are all hanging our heads in sorrow due to the loss of Alex Lowe and David Bridges. This is a setback in the expedition, but the others must finish what they have started. We wish everyone the best of luck on finishing the expedition.


Eric Simkin

October 6, 1999

I live in Bozeman and am terribly saddened by Alex Lowe's untimely and tragic death. I knew Alex only a bit, but saw him regularly at the slide show presentations in town from other climbers, kayakers, mountaineers, skiers, etc. His ego was not tied up in his own conquests and achievements. He was as interested in the achievements of others, because his love was for the mountains and rivers and forests that make up our planet. Anyone who got out there to enjoy them had his respect. He was a talent beyond belief but always knew the risks present every day in the mountains.

My sympathies to all his family and friends. This will take a while to recover from.

Lisa T.

October 6, 1999


I feel this urge to write to someone about the recent tragedy on Shishapangma. The loss that I feel must be felt by many others. I'm from Bozeman and have met Alex only a few times, but now that I look back, I wish I had spoken with him more about my own climbing dreams. I guess you could say that he was kind of my idol, for lack of a better word. Everyone has dreams, some of them big, and this is the perfect example of following your dreams to the end. He passed away doing what he loved. I can only hope that the negative remarks about his chosen lifestyle and the fact that he has now left his family can be kept to a minimum. I know enough about climbing to understand the risks and the rewards and I'm sure this was understood to some degree within the Lowe and Bridges families.

My thoughts and prayers are with these families and friends who knew them better. October 5 will always be remembered in my mind. We all must find something positive in this. I think in time we will. But until then, I'm just going to follow my dreams and I hope that you do also.


October 6, 1999

Dear Editor,

I am devastated by this horrible tragedy that has struck Alex Lowe and cameraman Dave Bridges. My thoughts go to their family and friends who loved them very much. This kind of unexpected event has taken the lives of many awesome individuals and it is too bad that we have to except that one of the greatest climbers of all-time has climbed to the highest peak (HEAVEN). Thank you Alex and David for the best of times and the best of climbs. May his family rest to know he has climbed to the highest peak in the universe.

Matthew Tezak
Grand Junction, Colorado

October 6, 1999

I never knew him, but it saddens me to hear he is gone.

Dave Thompson

October 6, 1999

Please forward the deepest condolences from all those who love the high, windy places dressed in rock and ice to the Shishapangma team and the Lowe family. It seems impossible that such an incredible life force as Alex Lowe could be gone in such a flash. Alex is a reminder to every day pursue your dreams while living a life in touch and in empathy for others.

My deepest sympathy.


October 6, 1999

Dear Editor, The news on Alex Lowe is indeed sad. I have had the pleasure of meeting Alex several times during his lectures at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC. Aside from his unequaled skill, Alex had a joy for life and genuine love of the mountains and people who emanated from his personality.

No words can express my concern for his family at this tragic time. I can offer my personal experience (and, I suspect, the experience of most who knew Alex) - that of having enjoyed my life more as a result of meeting the loving man, Alex Lowe.


Donald A. Willcox

October 6, 1999

I just wanted to express my sorrow at the loss of an incredible person. Alex is married to my 1st cousin, Jennifer, and I can honestly say that in the years that we knew him, I have never known a person to be so incredibly interesting and a great role model for my children. His oldest son was born on the same day as my son RJ. Many was the time that we would be watching the discovery channel and Alex would be featured climbing somewhere in the world. RJ's eyes would light up and he would watch intently with pride and admiration at Alex's latest conquest. RJ would look forward to the latest copy of National Geographic, to see if his picture would be in that issue so he could share it with his friends.

My heart goes out to my cousin, Jennifer, and their three wonderful children. They can be proud that their father is such a remarkable man and his courage and endless pursuit of excellence will live in all of our hearts for years to come.

With all our love to the Lowe Family
Randy,Joy,Rachel & RJ Barnett
Camano Island, Washington

October 5, 1999

I am totally blown away by this news. His family, his wife & children — it's so sad. He was a combination of conservative and radical...he will be missed by all who looked to the type of person he was for inspiration and belief that anything was possible, as long as one had family, faith, talent and good fortune. The climbing world is greatly diminished, and the optimistic world also, if this sad news is found to be true. May the Goddess & God bless him and his loved ones...

Tom West

October 5, 1999

It's just so sad.
I took a course in mountaineering years ago and my instructor was Scott Fisher. Before that, I climbed the Grand Teton as a student — my first real mountaineering experience — and Alex Lowe led the way. I have followed each climber's career enthusiastically, but today I don't feel like being a part of mountaineering anymore.

Chris Parsons

October 5, 1999

I am 14 years old and have only been into climbing for a year and a half. The news that Alex Lowe is dead hit me hard. He is the climber whom I have read about on your site in "Is There Anything This Guy Can't Climb?" There is also a story on him in the March 1999 Issue of Outside . I can not believe he's dead. This summer I was in the Tetons and I was glowing for weeks knowing that while I was there he was on top of the Grand. Without saying a word to me, he touched me. I can't believe he's dead, my condolences to his family. I am very very sorry.

Joseph Abel

October 5, 1999

As a person who surfs to to get the latest global extreme sports and gear info, I was shocked at the presumed death of Alex Lowe and his colleague. I had met the wonderful Mr. Lowe and his family last May.

My heart and sympathy go to their families in this time of great sadness. This is a true loss to humanity.


October 5, 1999

Since finding your site a few years ago, I have visited it often and nearly every day when a climb has been in progress. I've come to "know" and really like some of the climbers that have made daily reports of their expeditions. Alex Lowe was probably the most eloquent of all of them and it's very sad that his beautiful voice has been silenced.

I hope that there is some way you can convey to his family my deepest condolences.

Thaddeus Kellam

October 5, 1999

Having read accounts of the avalanche that took the lives of Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges, I find it essential to share a personal insight about life that rings so true for everyone, not just world-class expeditioneers.

People often wonder if God truly exists. Many times when tragedy befriends someone close to us, we think that if God does exist, why did he or she raise a hand to take that loved one away from us? I do not have the answer, but I prefer to understand this complex issue like this: God offers us many opportunities in which to live our lives to the fullest. In the case of Alex and Dave, I prefer to believe that they are walking with Hinds' feet on high places. One door of opportunity closed and another door of opportunity has been opened. From all of our Iditarod, hunting & fishing guides and mountaineering friends, our heartfelt feelings of love and sadness go out to the Lowe and Bridges families as well as to all who knew Alex and Dave.

-Rage on Boys-
Thank you.

Dan Dart

[Shishapangma Expedition Home]

['00 Everest Letters] ['00 Letters]
['99 Archives] ['98 Archives] [Everest Letters]

Send postcards or letters to: Editor, 1415 Western Ave. Ste 300, Seattle, WA 98101

[Post a Letter] [Letters Home] []