Dear Fellow AAC Members,
Conrad and I, along with one of our three sons, Isaac, send our sincere gratitude to each of you for welcoming us so warmly at the AAC gathering in Seattle. The weekend gave us some time to reflect on our rich history of lasting partnerships and friendships, along with intergenerational and cross-cultural mentorships, education and inspiration, that is part of the essential DNA of our climbing tribe.
As many of you know, 2016 was a rough year for our family with the discovery of Alex Lowe and David Bridges’ bodies on Shishapangma after nearly 17 years. In June, our family made a pilgrimage to Tibet with a small team including David Bridges’ brother Daniel and a few close friends.
Two dear Sherpa friends, both Khumbu Climbing Center graduates, and instructors joined us to accompany Conrad, Bill Belcourt and our son Max in retrieving the bodies from over 21,000 feet on the glacier, and in bringing them back to our base camp at 17,000 feet. There, we cremated our loved ones in a traditional Tibetan ceremony that was both beautiful and brutally heart-rending.
Then in November, we were brought another reminder of the fragility of life when Conrad suffered a major heart attack on Lunag Ri. Within nine hours, and with the help of a helicopter evacuation and good karma, Conrad returned safely to Kathmandu, where emergency angioplasty saved his life.
In Conrad’s presentation, you had a glimpse of the work that the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation has achieved over the last 15 years in Nepal. We have both supported and safeguarded the indigenous climbing community.
By extension, the technical training provided at the Khumbu Climbing Center is helping to improve the safety of all Himalayan climbers who employ Nepali guides and high altitude workers. That includes Lakpa Sherpa, who guided the helicopter pilot to Conrad’s rescue on Lunag Ri. Had Lakpa not been there, the pilot may well have turned back.
I would like to invite you all to visit our website (http://alexlowe.org/) to learn more about the Khumbu Climbing Center. We need your support to keep up the important work that we have begun in Nepal.