Tibet: SHISHAPANGMA Mountain Glacier Releases Climbers from Icy Tomb

Too young to die, but they all knew the risks

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Wonderful picture of David LoweShishapangma Mountain in tibetLowe, who died, and Anker, who lived.Lowe's family also found happiness with his dear friend, AnkerThe two climbers who found the frozen bodies in their suits of ice.Enigmatic foto of David Bridges
Wonderful picture of David Lowe
Wonderful picture of David Lowe
Shishapangma Mountain in tibet
Shishapangma Mountain in tibet
Lowe, who died, and Anker, who lived.
Lowe, who died, and Anker, who lived.
Lowe's family also found happiness with his dear friend, Anker
Lowe's family also found happiness with his dear friend, Anker
The two climbers who found the frozen bodies in their suits of ice.
The two climbers who found the frozen bodies in their suits of ice.
Enigmatic foto of David Bridges
Enigmatic foto of David Bridges

"On Ice" for 16 years, pair finally found.

The Tibetan Mountain of Shishapangma is, at 26,335 feet, the 14th highest mountain in the world. Also known locally as Gosainthan, it's summit was the last over 8,000 peak to be achieved. This was not due to the mountain's difficulty, but its locality - completely inside Tibet, it was impossible to get permission from China to attempt to conquer the monster for many years.
It was eventually climbed a number of times by teams from many nations, in the process claiming 27 lives. It was targeted by those extreme sportsmen who like to ascend, or be transported to dizzying peaks and then ski back down. Shishapangnma was seen as having one of the best routes back down by Lowe, many miles of uninterrupted snow.
One of the greatest climbers of all time and certainly the fittest, was Alex Lowe. He and two fellow climbers, close friend and cameraman, David Bridges, along with buddy, Conrad Anker, were traversing a giant glacier at close to 6,000 feet in a 1999 expedition, when they heard an ominous rumble. Looking above, they saw the tumbled line of moving snow approaching. They seriously misjudged the direction of the huge avalanche and fatally stopped to snap pictures. Realizing too late that the torrent of snow, ice and rocks was heading directly at them, the three began to run.
Anker, who miraculously survived after being thrown 100 feet and severely injured, recalls seeing the other two hurling themselves into a crevass - or perhaps being swept into one of the yawning mouths that criss-cross the avalanche surface.
Although nursing lesions and broken bones, Anker was able to help the rescue party who maintained a ceaseless search for Lowe and Bridges for 20 hours without luck. They noted at the time that had the pair been equipped with emergency radio-beacons they might have been found in time to dig them out of what was a 20-foot deep covering of snow and debris.
(If the reports of their diving into a crevasse was true, they could not have been found anyway).
Shishapanngma (One meaning of its name is "Abode of God!")kept Lowe and Bridges clutched to its icy heart for 16 long years. Perhaps relenting after what was to the mountain a mere moment in geologic time, it revealed the bodies of the victims, still enclosed in blue ice, to two climbers from Germany and Switzerland on this April 27, 2016. The missing climbers, identified by clothing and backpacks, were, said their discoverers, partly emerging from the glacier.
It was long past time for their remains to be returned to their familes in the United States and proper burials performed.
Jennifer Lowe (Anker) married Conrad Anker in 2001 (he subsequently adopted her three children) and published a best selling, award-winning book, "Forget Me Not," about her late husband, the great mountaineer, Alex Lowe, who had many "mountain scalps" to his tally, many more difficult than that which claimed his life. He had also been responsible for rescueing others in trouble and was hailed by his peers as one of the greatest mountaineers of all time.
In this crazy sport of mountain climbing and down-mountain skiing, it only takes one mistake and even the greatest must bow to nature's implacable forces.

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Comments 17 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 7 months ago from Rural Arizona

Bob, I have often questioned the sanity of anyone who would spend thousands of dollars and risk their very lives to climb a mountain. I have had a number of things on my bucket list I have been able to scratch off the list, but mountain climbing isn't on there.

Even worse are the lives that are lost by members of the rescue parties sent to either save them or retrieve their bodies.

But mountain climbing has become a big business with organizers making huge amounts of money from the climbers.

But to each his own I guess. If they love mountain climbing more power to them.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 months ago from Southern Georgia

I'll have to agree with Mike on this one, Bob. I've done some crazy s#it in my life--as you may have surmised by some of my tales--but climbing a mountain like that one has never appealed to my fancy. Perhaps if there were a couple of beautiful ladies and a million bucks...well..that would be different.

Global warming enabled the duo to eventually be found as in the case of Otzi--or whatever the iceman is called. Enjoyed the read as I hadn't heard of this event.

Randy


diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Mike: Yeah, never fancied climbing anything higher than the bedroom upstairs either? I did go up Popo and Tiede in Mexico and the Canaries once, but got ill around 12,000 feet and had to come down. I don't know why they do it: Some for gain: power and sex I suppose; girlies like risk takers. Some for the sheer halibut!

So many seem to die, thousands on those top peaks. I suppose it's never going to happen to you until it does. Must have been macabre to find these two bodies perfectly preserved in that ice.

Thanks for your many visits to my hubs

Bob


diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Randy the wild man: I could see you doing that! I expect they do get their share of luverly ladies (or laddies!) but it seems to usually cost more than they gain. Many have died from stupidity up there, as the pair in the article; standing there aand waiting for the avalanche to get them.

Thanks for visit, watch out fer them thar Mocassins in the swamp!

Bob


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 7 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

Into Thin Air. Definitely not for me. There is a reason why there aren't a lot of women mountain climbers. That reason is Sanity! It is simply insane to climb up to a point where you can't breathe. We have pressurized jet planes for getting high these days.

Yep, definitely not on my bucket list at all. I'm beginning to wonder why mankind has to "spread out" and explore. Something in our genes? The older I get, the more I want to stay home!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Henry Thoreau and you would have got on well together!

Travel was fun 50 years ago, I was young and the industry seemd to care back then. If Trump gets elected, make him concentrate on these scum Islamic terrorists and leave our lovely Mexicans in peace! Some chance of Mexico paying for the Wall!

Nice to see ya Lela Bob x


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 7 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

The Donald is already focusing on a different ethnic group. He's going to eliminate ISIL now. The Mexicans are going to build the wall all right, to keep Americans OUT! Hopfully they will annex Texas because Texas is trying to secede from the union again. We're half Mexican anyway.

It's scary living in the south these days. They've all gone stupid.

Oh well, SNAFU.


Wild Bill 7 months ago

diogenes,

I am a big fan of real life adventure stories (i.e. safari, survival, etc.), so I am surprised I haven't heard of this one. Thank you for writing about this.

Since you and Mike were pondering what makes people do such dangerous things, you should read 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer. It is about Chris McCandless, who walks into the Alaskan bush and is later found dead (I won't go into detail and spoil the ending for you!). In the book, Krakauer discusses other adventurers who most people viewed as crazy, but are really just searchers to the meaning of life. You should give it a look. It is a short and easy read.

Have a good one and thanks for the story!


diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Wild Bill: Yes, I have heard of this book and will try to find it; I like these stories, too. Such guts and often sadness! Thanks for visit

Bob


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 7 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

These 'risk takers' count on us taxpayers here in the US to fund the Search and Rescue teams that cost millions to either save them or fetch their bodies for burial. We should probably make them sign waivers so that once they head up that mountain, they are on their own because the state will not come to their rescue.

I have run out of sympathy for these morons.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 months ago from North Texas

There are so many more important things to do in this world that will take up every penny one has, and that will risk one's life, but for a worthwhile cause, why do so many people choose something totally useless to spend their money and their life on instead?

Never thought Old Poolman and I would ever agree on much, but we do seem to agree on this crazy and expensive way of killing oneself, and worse, causing someone else to lose their life on our idiotic behalf.

As for finding the meaning of life by this means? So far, if anyone has found that little nugget of wisdom, they haven't lived to tell it. I'm betting whatever the meaning of life is, it isn't risking one's life over useless crap.

So nice to hear from you Bobby. Please do not say mean things about yourself. Everyone has a part to play. Of course you aren't useless -- nor are mesquite trees. I'm dying from the heat, and not because I seek it out. It just follows me everywhere this time of year. Wish I could get a restraining order against it. Hope you are well. xx


diogenes 4 months ago

I empathise. Not much heat in the UK, after the wettest summer in 80 years, but extremes of heat or cold are hard to tolerate as one ages.

I wonder if mountaineers aren't gripped by a death wish; it has been said this is latent in many of us? This life: so precious that we wouldn't give away an hour of it, yet throw it away heedlessly in its entirety on stupid endeavours that leave so much suffering as well as danger for the native porters and those who try to rescue climbers in difficulty..

Kiss and a hug Bob


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 months ago from North Texas

I think mountain climbing is crazy. Taking such risk for nothing, and if one has children depending on them, all the more irresponsible. Why not just run head on (on foot) at an 18-wheeler going 70 mph and see who is the bigger and tougher? Makes as much sense and costs less.

Hope you are well Bobby. With this awful heat and impossibility of sleeping as a result, I just haven't kept up with comments or anything else this summer. Take care . . . xxox


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi Misty: I did not know you had a heat wave, too. It is baking here and high humidity I think. It must be high eighties here all day and still hot at 10:00 pm. I am listening to the Proms concerts on BBC...the budgies like music as well and often chirp along, although Grieg is a bit highbrow for them at the moment. I like Grieg and visited his birth (and death) place, Bergen in Norway. His beautiful music sounding through the mists on the lake he composed near and was buried (I think) in a cave there. It's all so long ago when I was there...

I am fine, thanks for asking, but the world weighs very heavy at the moment doesn't it?

Love Bob x


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 months ago from North Texas

It certainly wears heavily on me at the moment because of the awful heat. We're in the mid 90s again until sometime next month from the look of the long term forecast. The humidity is a killer right now and has been all summer.

Since I rarely see a TV I have no idea what's happening in the world. Nothing earth shaking in the newspaper this morning. Glad all is well with you Bobby. Take care . . . xoxox


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 months ago from UK and Mexico Author

Big earthquake in Italy!

Funny you should say nothing earth shaking in the paper!!

Night night x


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 months ago from North Texas

Nope, wasn't in the paper, but now that you mention it, I did hear something on the radio about it las'night. Have a good sleep and don't let the bed bugs bite. ;) xx

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