[Photo] Giulio Malfer

George Henry Lowe III

Posted on: March 1, 2006


In 1978 Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, Jeff Lowe and I attempted the North Ridge of Pakistan's Latok I. We carried loads to base camp with a small group of porters, who became our friends. We conducted our expedition with minimal environmental impact, climbing capsule style on superb alpine terrain for more than 100 pitches. After overcoming all the technical difficulties, we failed some 150 meters short of the top when one of us became ill. We willingly gave up the summit to care for our sick teammate and left only rappel anchors on the descent. Most significant, we came home as friends. It was my best climb. I've led a blessed life. My family and career have usually been more important than my climbing, but climbing prepared me for both. My father introduced me to the outdoors, and my parents lovingly stressed the importance of personal responsibility: prepare, do your best and continue trying after failures. Such a background resulted in my greatest strength as an alpinist—determination—as well as my greatest weakness: a tendency to hang on too long. This ability to immerse myself single-mindedly in the activities I love has helped me through many different challenges. Work, home life and climbing all involve intricate problem solving. Climbing taught me, as an insecure physics major, that unraveling enigmas can be enjoyable... and that most limits exist only in my mind. But if you are going to survive in the big mountains (or in your profession), you don't do wild things immediately. You do them after you have learned, and you do them with a concern for the well-being of your partners. I hope to pass those lessons on to the people I mentor at work, and to my family, with whom I continue to have my best adventures.

George Lowe: curriculum vitae

1962: The Trough (5.5), Big Rock, California, first roped climb.

1963: Upper Exum Ridge (II 5.5), Grand Teton (13,770'), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, ascent, with John, Steve and Mike Lowe.

1965: Dorsal Fin (5.10d), Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, first ascent. Various ascents in the French Alps, including Bonatti Pillar (ED+), Petit Dru (3745m). Mt. Owen (12,928'), Grand Teton National Park, first winter ascent.

1967: Marries Kayleen Cassity.

1968: North Face (IV 5.8), Grand Teton, first winter ascent, with Mike Lowe, Greg Lowe and Rick Horn.

1969: Salathe Wall (VI 5.9 C2, 35 pitches, 2,900'), El Capitan, ascent, with Jeff Lowe, Yosemite National Park, California. Various first ascents in Grand Teton National Park, including North Face (IV 5.9 A2), Enclosure (13,280'), with Mike Lowe.

1970: Son, George Henry Lowe IV, born. First ascents with Jeff Lowe: North Ridge (IV 5.7 90 degrees), Mt. Temple (3543m), Rockies, Canada; North Face (V 5.9 A3), Warrior I (12,360'), Wind River Range, Wyoming.

1971: First ascents in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, including North Face (TD), Piramide de Garcilaso (5885m), with Mike Lowe.

1972: Daughter Kara Lowe born. West Face (IV 5.8), Grand Teton, first winter ascent, with Jeff Lowe. North Face (V 5.9 A2), Mt. Alberta (3619m), Canadian Rockies, first ascent, with Jock Glidden.

1973: PhD in Cosmic Ray Physics from the University of Utah. Supercouloir (IV 5.8), Mount Deltaform (3424m), Canadian Rockies, first ascent, with Chris Jones. South Face (VI 5.8 A3), Devils Thumb (9,077') Stikine Wilderness, Alaska, first ascent, with Chris Jones and Lito Tejada-Flores.

1974: North Face (VI 5.10 A4), North Twin (3631m), Canadian Rockies, first ascent, with Chris Jones.

1975: Divorces Kayleen Cassity. Moves to Sunnyvale, California, to work as a systems engineer with ESL, Inc.

1976: Various first ascents in Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan, as part of Russian-American exchange program, including Northwest Face (75 degrees, 1000m), Free Korea Peak (4740m), solo first ascent.

1977: First ascents in the Alaska Range, with Michael Kennedy: Lowe-Kennedy (Alaska Grade 4: 80 degrees, 6,700'), Mt. Hunter (14,573'); Infinite Spur (Alaska Grade 6: 5.9 AI 4, 9,000'), Mount Foraker (17,398').

1978: North Ridge, Latok I (7144m), Karakoram, Pakistan, attempt (to 6995m), with Jeff Lowe, Jim Donini and Michael Kennedy.

1980: Exum Ridge, Grand Teton, ascent, with father, George Jr., and son, George IV.

1981: Kangshung Face (to ca. 7010m), Mt. Everest (8850m), and Shishapangma (to ca. 7132m; 8013m), Himalaya, Tibet: first to fail on two 8000-meter peaks in one season.

1982: Moves to Colorado to work with Argosystems.

1983: Kangshung Face, Mt. Everest, first ascent.

1990: Marries Elizabeth Regan. Northeast Ridge, Dhaulagiri I (8167m), Himalaya, Nepal, first solo ascent.

1991: Most enjoyable climbing day of life: the Nose (5.11 C1, 2,900'), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, one-day onsight ascent, with Alex Lowe.

1993: Daughter Katie Lowe born.

1994: Daughter Melissa Lowe born.

1997: Modern Zeiten (VII+, 800m), Marmolata (3342m), Dolomites, Italy, one-day ascent, with Alex Lowe (back in time for dinner with families).

1999: Takes early retirement from Argosystems to start consulting for US government.

2004: Lasa Gasa trek, Bhutan, with Elizabeth Regan, Katie Lowe and Melissa Lowe. Air Voyage (V 5.12-), Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, ascent, with Greg Cameron (discovers the 5.12 OW is only A1).

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