Since 1950, more than 900 mountain climbers have lost their lives while attempting to scale various peaks in Asia's Himalayas, and many of them have remained entombed for decades under the ice and snow. But due to warmer temperatures, Shishapangma, a 26,290-foot-tall glacial mountain in the Himalayas, is giving up two of its its bodies.
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Two climbers training for an ascent last week reported that they had discovered what may be the remains of world-renowned mountaineer Alex Lowe and his fellow climber and cameraman David Bridges, who perished back in October 1999 in a massive avalanche. The bodies,encased in blue ice, were beginning to emerge from the glacier.
The discoverers, David Goettler and Ueli Steck, contacted Lowe's widow, Jenni Lowe-Anker, and described the clothing and gear on the bodies. This allowed her to make a tentative identification, Lowe-Anker announced on the website of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, which honors the late climber by funding humanitarian efforts in remote regions of the world.
Lowe-Anker said in a statement that she was thankful that the remains of her late husband and his colleague apparently had been found.
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Outside magazine described Lowe, a resident of Bozeman, Mont., who was just 40 when he died, as "easily the best all-around mountaineer of his generation." He and Bridges were at 19,000 feet when a massive frozen slab broke loose about 6,000 feet above them, according to CBS News. Bridges was both a talented climber and a world-class para-glider.
Shishapangma, the world's 14th-highest mountain, is also one of the world's deadliest, because of its history of avalanches. Between 1983 and 2009, 24 climbers died on the mountain, according to statistics compiled by 8000ers.com, a climbing website. A 1991 avalanche claimed the four German mountaineers.
Warming temperatures in the Himalayas may yield more bodies. A 2012 National Research Council study found that glaciers in the eastern and central regions of the Himalayas seemed to be retreating at accelerating rates, though glaciers in the western Himalayas were more stable.