Alex Lowe and David Bridges vanished amid a devastating avalanche near the peak of Tibet’s Shishapangma mountain in 1999. Sixteen years later, the bodies of two climbers were found “frozen in time” inside a partially melted glacier. Family members have now confirmed the identities of 40-year-old alpinist Alex Lowe and 29-year-old cameraman David Bridges.
The 14th highest mountain in the word, Shishapangma is part of the notorious Himalayan range. Although it is described by RMI as “one of the most approachable” peaks, with “direct route and relatively short approach to Base Camp,” the snowy peak is more than 26,000 feet and at least 27 people have died on the mountain.
As reported by Liquisearch, some of the deaths were attributed to altitude sickness and exposure. However, a vast majority were killed or presumably killed in avalanches.
A native of Bozeman, Montana, Alex Lowe was a well-known and respected alpinist who built a worldwide internet following, as he often shared real-time details about his climbs with his fans via social media.
BBC News reports “Lowe was regarded by some as the world’s best climber.” He was also known for his warm camaraderie with his fellow climbers and his fans.
— CNN (@CNN) May 2, 2016
Prior to the climb that ended his life, Alex Lowe successfully reached the peaks of mountains throughout Antarctica, France, and Peru. He also successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest on two occasions during his 25-year career as a mountaineer. In addition to his own personal blog, many of his adventures were documented by National Geographic.
A native of Aspen, Colorado, David Bridges was an experienced cameraman, mountaineer, and a U.S. champion paraglider.
According to reports, Lowe and Bridges were not simply climbing partners, they were also close friends.
— Dream Wanderlust (@DreamWanderlust) May 2, 2016
In 1999, Alex Lowe and David Bridges joined seven others for the American Shishapangma Ski Expedition. The men and their teammates planned to ascend the mountain and ski back down
On October 5, officials reported a “massive avalanche” that engulfed Alex Lowe, David Bridges, and Conrad Anker. Although Anker suffered multiple injuries to his head and torso, he survived the avalanche.
Team leader Andrew McLean said he and the other surviving members of the team searched for more than 20 hours. Unfortunately, Alex and David were simply gone.
“We’ve had a rough couple of days… after 20 hours of searching through one to 20 feet of debris we’ve given up on Alex and Dave as dead… The unreal part of it is that two of our friends are locked in the ice within eyesight of us and there is nothing we can do about it.”
Sixteen years later, the bodies of Alex Lowe and David Bridges were discovered by climbers David Goettler and Ueli Steck on the south face of Shishapangma. As reported by the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, the bodies were “still encased in blue ice but beginning to emerge from the glacier.”
Alex Lowe and David Bridges’ bodies were not yet identified using DNA. However, officials said their clothing and accessories leave little doubt as to their identities.
According to reports, Alex and David’s bodies will be recovered from the side of the mountain and released to their families for proper burial. Alex Lowe is survived by his former wife Jennifer Leigh and adopted sons Max, Sam, and Isaac.
Following his death, Alex’s wife Jennifer married Conrad Anker, the climber who survived the avalanche that killed her husband.
The deaths of Alex Lowe and David Bridges and the subsequent relationship between Jennifer and Conrad are documented in the book Forget Me Not and the documentary film Meru.
[Image via v.apl/Shutterstock]