The bodies of a world-renowned mountain climber and an accomplished expedition cameraman who were caught in an avalanche and killed in the Himalayan mountains have been recovered 16 years after their deaths.
Alex Lowe, 40, and David Bridges, 29, were killed while ascending the 26,291-foot Shishapangma mountain when an avalanche struck in October 1999. A second mountaineer, Conrad Anker, survived with multiple injuries and later led an hours-long search for Lowe and Bridges, to no avail.
The pair “were captured and frozen in time,” Lowe's widow, Jennifer Lowe-Anker, said in a statement.
Two men preparing to climb Shishapangma found the remains of two climbers in a thawing glacier on Friday. They described the clothing worn by the unidentified pair to Anker, who confirmed they were Lowe and Bridges.
“Sixteen years of life has been lived, and now they are found. We are thankful,” Lowe-Anker said.
After Lowe's death, his widow married Anker and wrote a memoir titled “Forget Me Not.” The couple live in Bozeman, Montana, and celebrated their 15th anniversary last month. Together they run the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, which aims to promote safe climbing practices in Nepal.
“After 16 1/2 years, this brings closure and relief for me and Jenni and for our family,” Anker said.
Lowe was widely regarded as one of the most skilled climbers of his generation. Among other accomplishments, he reached the summit of Mount Everest twice, climbed Nepal's Kwangde Nup and Kusum Kanguru and earned nicknames like "The Mutant" and the "Lung on Legs."
Bridges, a two-time U.S. national paragliding champion, was an accomplished climber and cinematographer.
Two Americans reached the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park on Wednesday, making history by completing what some have called the world's most difficult climb.
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are the first to free-climb El Capitan's 3,000-foot Dawn Wall. For 19 days, the pair used only their hands and feet to ascend, although ropes were used to break falls.
Afterward, Caldwell and Jorgeson got a shoutout from President Barack Obama, who tweeted in part, "You remind us that anything is possible."
Folks love a good human achievement, and onlookers really wanted to explain to non-climbers how big an achievement it was.
"It's 3,000 feet. That's almost three times as tall as the Empire State Building," one anchor from Al Jazeera said.
"They've had to contend with razor sharp edges and frigid winds," a BBC reporter said.
"It's getting pretty rowdy!" climber Kevin Jorgeson said.
"The crux 15th pitch weighs in at 9A. Just to get there, there are five pitches, plus an 8B, plus an 8C, as well as a number of 8A plus sections," one EpicTV reporter said.
It's hard to put the climb up the Dawn Wall into words — and especially words non-climbers can understand.
"The Dawn Wall, which is the steepest, big wall maybe in the world."
That's Caldwell sometime before taking on the Dawn Wall with Jorgeson explaining what he and his climbing partner were getting into. (Video via Sender Films / "Valley Uprising")
Caldwell and Jorgeson planned for years before the climb.
"Think about everything you've done in the last 2 1/2 weeks. Every time you went to the store, every time you had dinner, they were on that cliff." (Video via NBC)
And just to add some professional perspective: Alex Honnold is a record-setting free-solo climber, meaning when he climbs, he does it fast and without any ropes. Caldwell and Jorgeson used ropes to keep from falling. But speaking to The New York Times, Honnold said, “What makes the Dawn Wall so special is that it’s almost not possible. ... The hardest pitches on the Dawn Wall are harder than I’ve ever climbed.” (Video via National Geographic)
From "almost not possible" to done.
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