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Climbing legend Jeff Lowe is dead

Jeff Lowe (1950-2018)

“The climb will go. Get rid of the rope. It’s only distracting you,” Jeff Lowe once said. He was an uncompromising climber. Lowe loved to be alone or in small teams on extreme routes. The American succeeded more than 1,000 first ascents in his climbing career. Jeff was born in 1950 in Ogden, Utah, as the fourth of eight children. When he was four years old, his father took him skiing and two years later climbing. The family was enthusiastic about mountain sports. Aged 14, Jeff climbed his first new route: on Mount Ogden, doing it solo. He was often en route with his brothers Greg and Mike and his cousin George Henry Lowe.

Legendary attempt on Latok I North Ridge

Two of Jeff Lowe’s projects in particular are legendary. In 1978, Jeff and George Henry Lowe together with their compatriots Jim Donini and Thomas R. Engelbach tried to reach the 7,145-meter-high summit of Latok I in the Karakoram in Pakistan via the extremely difficult North Ridge. 150 meters below the highest point they had to turn around in a storm. After more than three weeks in the wall, they returned exhausted, but safely from the mountain. More than 30 attempts to complete exactly this route to the summit have since failed. As reported, the Slovenians Ales Cesen and Luka Strazar and the Briton Tom Livingstone after all reached the summit of Latok I for the first time over the north side on 9 August. However, the trio had deviated from the North Ridge in the upper part of the mountain.

Spectacular route via Eiger North Face

Jeff Lowes legendary route “Metanoia”

No less spectacular was Jeff Lowe’s legendary route “Metanoia” through the north face of the Eiger. In a life crisis Jeff had come to Switzerland in the winter of 1991 and had opened the extreme Eiger route in nine days – solo and without using bolts. It was not until the end of 2016 that the German Thomas Huber and the two Swiss Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli succeeded in repeating the route for the first time. “We were three, Jeff was alone then. During every pitch, that I led, I tried to imagine how it was for him climbing alone. He must have been totally stressed. But he did it!,” Thomas wondered afterwards. “I have left the route with a great deal of awe.”

Incurable illness

In recent years Jeff Lowe had been bound to a wheelchair and needed care. He suffered from a rare, still incurable illness, with similar symptoms like MS or ALS. When, in 2017, Lowe was awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the Mountaineers”, for his lifetime climbing achievements, he was no more able to collect the trophy personally.

R.I.P.

“I will miss him beyond measure and yet I am glad that he is free of his physical body and all the pain and suffering he has endured for many years,” Jeff’s partner Connie Self, who cared for him for the past eight years, wrote on Facebook. Jeff Lowe died at the age of 67 years.

Date

25. August 2018 | 20:36

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