Jeff Lowe

1950–2018

Gripped - - OBITUARIES -

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.

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