Body of elite climber found in melting glacier after 16 years

Mount Shishapangma. (iStock)
Mount Shishapangma. (iStock)

Los Angeles - The bodies of a renowned mountain climber and expedition cameraman who were buried in a Himalayan avalanche 16 years ago have been found.

The widow of Alex Lowe said in a statement on Friday that two climbers attempting to ascend the 8 000m Shishapangma in Tibet discovered the remains of two people partially melting out of a glacier.

The climbers described the clothing and backpacks seen on the bodies to Conrad Anker, who was climbing with Lowe and cameraman David Bridges at the time of the October 1999 avalanche and survived. Anker concluded that the two were Bridges and Lowe, the statement said.

"Alex and David vanished, were captured and frozen in time. Sixteen years of life has been lived and now they are found. We are thankful," Jenni Lowe-Anker said.

She married Anker, her husband's friend and fellow elite climber, in 2001. They live in Bozeman, Montana, and run the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation together.

Anker said the discovery has brought closure and relief to him.

He told Outside magazine that although he hasn't seen photos of the remains, he's convinced they are those of Lowe and Bridges.

"They were close to each other. Blue and red North Face backpacks. Yellow Koflach boots. It was all that gear from that time period. They were pretty much the only two climbers who were there," Anker said.

Lowe, Anker, Bridges and several others were on an expedition to climb Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world, then ski down it. They were scouting out routes at about 5 800m when they saw a slab of snow break free 1 800m above them.

Lowe was regarded as the world's greatest mountain climber when he was swept to his death at age 40. He was known jokingly as "Lungs With Legs" for his incredible strength and stamina. He had made difficult climbs all over the world, including Nepal's Kwangde and Kusum Kanguru, and twice reached the summit of Mount Everest. In Peru, he climbed the southwest buttress of Taulliraju.

He was credited with rescuing several climbers in Alaska in 1995, a year when six climbers died on Mount McKinley.

Bridges, 29, of Aspen, Colorado was an accomplished high-altitude climber and cinematographer.

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