After losing his best friend and climbing partner to an avalanche, Anker stepped in to help raise his three sons.
Conrad Anker, captain of The North Face Global Athlete Team and one of the world’s most well-respected mountaineers, didn’t expect to become a parent. In 1999, Anker lost his best friend and frequent climbing partner Alex Lowe, a 40-year-old father widely considered the greatest mountaineer of his generation, to an avalanche in Tibet. The two men, part of a team attempting to become the first Americans to ski an 8,000-meter peak, had trekked high on the slopes of 26,289-foot Shishapangma with expedition cameraman David Bridges when the deadly avalanche tore down the mountain’s south face. Anker was seriously injured ⏤ snapped rib, gashed head⏤ but he was not buried. Lowe and Bridges weren’t as lucky.
The team spent two days searching for them.
Back home in Bozeman, Montana, Anker did everything in his power to help Lowe’s widow Jenni raise her three boys, who were then 5-, 8-, and 12-years-old. He and Jenni spent an increasing amount of time together and eventually fell in love (their story is chronicled in the 2015 documentary Meru). It was a surprise, but Anker took to parenting, which he approached in much the same way he approached mountaineering — with deep respect and a desire for mastery. He also wanted the Lowe boys to follow in their father’s footsteps and into nature.
“Being outdoors teaches you…
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