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Jeff Lowe

Jeff Lowe was, without doubt, one of the most important and influential people in the history of climbing. Jeff contributed to over 1000 first ascents on rock, ice, mixed and alpine ground in the USA, the Alps and the Himalayas. Not only prolific in output, his routes (some of which have never been repeated) were considered by most in the know, to be the most visionary, aesthetic and difficult climbs of their day.

Jeff Lowe was part of the Lowe family who started the Lowe Alpine brand 50 years ago. Along with his 2 brothers, Mike and Greg, Jeff was influential in developing the gear that started the Lowe Alpine brand. His work as technical advisor on product development was crucial in positioning Lowe Alpine as a leading innovator in outdoor product design.

Jeff spent a lifetime dedicated to pushing the boundaries of the possible. He reinvented the world of alpinism numerous times. His ascents (first roped, then soloed) of Bridalveil Falls (WI5+/WI6), Octpussy (M8) and The Lowe Route, South Face of Ama Dablam (solo) are just three climbs that are now considered both visionary and pivotal moments in the history of climbing and alpinism.

In 2009 he was diagnosed with an unknown neurodegenerative disease, his symptoms were progressive and similar to those of MS or ALS. This of course, changed Jeff’s life but he continued to inspire through projects like his biopic film Metanoia and his work with charities such as Paradox Sports.

Sadly Jeff passed away in August 2018 following his battle with a motor neuron illness. He was a visionary and inspiring man who helped shape not only the Lowe Alpine brand, but all climbing and mountaineering culture.

Whilst celebrating Lowe Alpine’s 50th anniversary in 2017 we asked Jeff: if you could impart one piece of advice to the future generation of mountaineers, what would it be? He replied: "Take care of your human relations, the plants and animals, the environment. All of it. Teach by example and proselytize others to care for the planet. Vote responsibly and/or protest peacefully in ways that support your love of the mountains, your family, your tribe and the world."

Jeff’s personality and now his legacy will continue to live on in the Lowe Alpine brand.

A note from Jeff

“These days I am often asked if it doesn't feel especially unfair to be stricken in this way when my life was so centered on the exact physical and mental abilities that are now so diminished, or completely gone. Although I do miss those things, instead of feeling bitter over the loss, I can't help but be forever grateful for the gift of fifty fantastic years. Whatever time I get from here on is gravy. I'll continue to "Have fun, work hard, and get smart" - to the best of my abilities.” - Jeff Lowe

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What motivated you to take up climbing?

I had a scare when I climbed the Grand Teton with my Dad and brother Greg when I was 7 yrs old. For many years I was the youngest person to have climbed the Grand. I really enjoyed the climb, even the scary step across a big void from the Broadway ledge to get onto the ridge. On the summit, I thought I could see on horizon, the curvature of the earth. On the trail on the way down, I fell and hit my head. It bled a lot and it scared me. I had nightmares for several years after that and found other sports like judo, gymnastics, little league baseball and especially ski racing that filled my time. Eventually, by the time I was twelve my desire to climb overcame everything but ski racing in the winter months in my teens.

What values were most important to you in establishing Lowe Alpine Systems?

Creativity, innovation, quality, environmental preservation and lightweight Alpine style ethics on climbs of the future.

What have the mountains taught you?

  • That life really is short.  Make the most of it.
  • Do it now.  Tomorrow may never come.
  • The end rarely justifies questionable means in climbing or the rest of life.
  • The impossible is only that which has not yet been accomplished.
  • Real difficulties are greatly eased by a positive attitude.
  • Embracing reality sets one free, even if reality is difficult.
  • Commitment works magic, conquering fear and despair.
  • Boldness is central to creativity.
  • Learning never stops.  It's physically, psychically and spiritually dangerous when you think you know it all.

And, finally, This planet is perfectly designed as a classroom for humans.  The dimensions and living architecture of the mountains, polar ice caps, rivers, oceans, jungles, and forests are perfect for extracting every last ounce of effort and creativity from those who approach them with fair means, lightly equipped.  We must not continue to destroy our environment and its ecology.  For not only is its well-being tied to its condition, as individuals we learn the most about ourselves by adapting ourselves to its challenges; by an intimate acquaintance with all of its natural laws and forces, both known and yet to be discovered; all of its colors, textures, sights and sounds, smells and tastes; all of its miraculous plants and creatures, and the fantastic pulsating, vibratory balance of the entire system.

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