Conrad Anker, who was caught in the avalanche on Shishapangma that took the lives of Alex Lowe and David Bridges, shares his thoughts about the tragic events of October 5. With his hair just beginning to grow back after being shaved to allow treatment for deep scalp lacerations suffered in the avalanche, Anker described the tragedy, his thoughts on the sad passing of his friend and climbing companion, and how his own climbing plans have changed.
Anker said that on October 5, the climbing and filming party decided to climb above Advanced Base Camp to take a look at the Swiss-Polish route on the South Face of Shishapangma, which it had planned to ski. The party split into two groups with Anker, Alex Lowe and Dave Bridges deciding to cross a flat surface of glacier to join up with expedition leader Andrew McLean and the others. As Lowe, Bridges and Anker, in that order, crossed the glacier, Alex looked up and said, "Holy shit, look at that avalanche." The climbers immediately ran in different directions to avoid the avalanche, but only Anker was able to escape.
The party searched the area immediately, Anker recounted, but as the minutes ticked off his watch, he knew the search would be in vain. Anker, in shock and bleeding from head wounds, was taken to advance base camp for treatment.
|"We knew it was an area that was a run-out zone, but the serac that was above us looked to be an older serac, it wasn't one that was freshly calving off and there wasn't any debris - it was a very flat slope. So from the appearance of it, it seemed to be a slope that didn't release that often..."|
In the wake of the tragedy, Anker said that it's Alex Lowe's great humanity and his impact on other people that will be missed, even more than his talents as an alpinist.
Anker concluded by saying that his narrow escape has changed his views toward climbing. And while he will continue to pursue difficult objectives, those objectives will not be on avalanche-prone 8,000-meter peaks. Anker, who will be married this spring, said that at present, the idea of surfing in Mexico sounds like his next adventure.
Peter Potterfield, MountainZone.com Staff
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
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