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Archives - Banff Mountain Summit

2000

Jeff Lowe
(United States)

Jeff Lowe has been a climber since his father first partnered him up the Grand Teton in 1956 at the age of seven.

With more than 500 first ascents to his credit, Jeff Lowe is a leading proponent in the movement toward light and fast climbs of the most technically difficult routes in the most remote mountain ranges on Earth. Eschewing large expeditions, the use of bottled oxygen and fixed ropes, and the support of high-altitude porters, Lowe prefers aesthetic, technically challenging new routes. His lengthy list of representative alpine-style Himalayan climbs includes the first ascent of the North Face of Peak 19 [Tajikistan, 1974]; a nearly completed attempt of the still-unclimbed North Ridge of Latok I [Pakistan, 1978] where the four-man team spent 26 days and came within 300 feet of the summit before being forced to descend due to illness and lack of provisions; the first ascent (solo) of the South Face of Ama Dablam [Nepal, 1979]; the first solo and first winter ascent of the French Pillar on Pumori [Nepal, 1983]; the first ascent of the Northeast Ridge of Kangtega [Nepal, 1986]; and the first ascent (made in winter) of the East Face of Tawoche [ Nepal, 1989].

Lowe is also known for first ascents of other notable alpine routes such as the North Face of Mount Temple [1970] and the Ramp Route [1971] and Grand Central Couloir [1975] on Mount Kitchener in the Canadian Rockies; the first winter ascent of the West Face of the Grand Teton [1972]; the first alpine-style and second overall ascent of the West Pillar of Taulliraju [1983] in the Andes; and the solo first ascent - in winter - of Metanoia on the North Face of the Eiger [1991].

But Jeff Lowe is more than just an alpinist. In the late 1960s and early '70s he specialized in big-wall climbing, including numerous early ascents of the Yosemite classics. He is also a renowned free-climbing master, the author of hundreds of classic traditional rock climbs throughout the western U.S. Among his notable first ascents on rock are Icarus [1980] and Risky Business [1984] in the Colorado Rockies; the Direct Bonatti Route on Grand Capucin [1985] in the Alps; the first solo ascent of the North Buttress of Puscanturpa Norte [1983] in Peru; and Wind, Sand, and Stars [1992] in Zion. Lowe has also been recognized as one of the world's premiere ice climbers. His first ascents on ice are a checklist of classic international ice testpieces.

Continuing to push climbing standards, Lowe has recently focused his attention on mixed rock and ice climbs. Among the most difficult mixed climbs in the world, the Lowe routes have inspired a new generation of winter climbing aficionados.

Although Lowe himself prefers long, naturally protectable climbs in remote areas, in keeping with his personal vision of the beauty and diversity of the sport of climbing, in 1988 he organized the first World Cup sport climbing competition in the U.S. Thanks to his efforts, the climbing wall at Snowbird Lodge in Snowbird, Utah has, for the past nine years, been host to America's National Sport Climbing Championships. He conceptualized and designed the world's first refrigerated ice-climbing tower for the inaugural ESPN Winter X Games held in Big Bear Lake, California. Lowe is the originator and organizer of the annual Arctic Wolf Ouray Ice Festival which, for the past three winters, has been the United States' best-attended ice climbers' rendezvous.

Lowe has written numerous magazine articles. He is the author of three books: The Ice Experience (1979); Climbing (1986, written in conjunction with Ron Fawcett, Paul Nunn and Alan Rouse); and Ice World (1996).

A compelling lecturer, Lowe gives thought-provoking multi-media presentations put a human face and voice on the world of extreme alpinism. He has been the keynote speaker at numerous mountaineering events, as well as making hundreds of presentations to business organizations and outing clubs around the world. Through his company, Arctic Wolf, Ltd., Lowe produces instructional and historical climbing videos and books, as well as publishing a quarterly newsletter of international climbing news called Howl: The Voice of Arctic Wolf.

Jeff Lowe lives in the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado with his wife Teri and their children, 11-year-old Sonja and 14-year-old Hunter.

 

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