Jeff Lowe was one of the most inf luential alpinists and ice climbers of his generation. Lowe, who grew up in Utah but spent much of his adult life in Colorado, became the youngest to climb the Grand Teton at age seven. By his early 20s, he was renowned for his boldness, vision and drive in the mountains. He made over 1,000 first ascents and made a name for himself climbing big routes others could not. Lowe passed away after a 20- year battle with an unknown neurodegenerative disease that had symptoms similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( als), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 67.
“Jeff was really quite instrumental i n the development and growth of waterfall ice climbing,” said Phil Powers, chief executive of the American Alpine Club. “The other thing Jeff did was bring competition climbing to the United States. He helped create the Ouray Ice Festival. That’s before you even think about all the routes he did – thousands of desert routes and hundreds of trips around the world, where new ground was broken. We might think he died at a young age, but he had a full life. He got a lot done.”
One of his most memorable ascents was his first ascent solo of Metanoia up the north face of the Eiger in 1991. It climbs 1,800 metres of difficult ground up to VII 5.10 M6 A4. But it was 20 years before that when Lowe and Mike Weis made the first ascent of the now-famous Moonlight Buttress. And it was with Weis that Lowe climbed the impressive Grand Central Couloir V 5.9 A2 in 1975 in the Canadian Rockies. Lowe made impressive ascents in the Himalayas, the Alps and in mountain ranges in the Americas, many of which are now considered testpieces. He is credited with bringing mixed climbing to North America and will go down in the history books as one of the greatest climbers of all time.