Melting Glacier Reveals Climbers Who Died in '99
Warmer temperatures in the Himalayas may reveal more climbers who died scaling various peaks. Continue reading →
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.
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.
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.
The bodies of two climbers lost in 1999 apparently have emerged from the ice on the world’s 14th tallest mountain.
The world's 14 "eight-thousanders" -- mountains taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) -- are all located in Asia. On one hand, they really beautify a horizon, but on the other they present a fierce, at times fatal, challenge to mountain climbers. Beauty can, indeed, be deadly. Here's the "baby" of the bunch, Shishapangma in Tibet, peaking at 8,027 meters (26,335 feet).
This is Gasherbrum II (we'll have another Gasherbrum coming up shortly), on the border of Pakistan and China. It's 8,035 meters up in the sky (26,361 feet) and is sometimes known as K4. These mountaineers are near the summit.
On the left side of this picture we see the sheer mass of Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain on the planet at 8,047 meters or 26,394 feet above sea level.
As promised, here's another Gasherbrum: Gasherbrum I. (Gasherbrum, translated from the Tibetan language Balti, means "beautiful mountain.") It also goes by the name of K5, lives along the China-Pakistan border and is 8,080 meters (26,444 ft) high.
The Himalayan mountain range Annapurna, in Nepal, is seen here from Pkhara, about 124 miles (200 kilometers) west of Kathmandu. Annapurna is considered one of the most dangerous for climbers; first crested in 1950, it has since been climbed by more than 100 people but taken 53 lives along the way.
This somewhat unsettling photo was taken in 1931 by mountaineers at a base camp on Pakistan's Nanga Parbat, the ninth-tallest eight-thousander at 8,126 meters (26,660 feet). The area captured in the picture is known as the Nanga Wall.
Eighth-tallest of the eight-thousanders is Nepal's Manaslu, at 8,163 meters (26,781 feet).
The Dhaulagiri mountain range in the Himalayas sports a rather volcanic look in this picture, with the sun brushing its top. But Nepal's 8,167-meter (26,795-foot) monster is of course quite chilly on top. Dhaulagiri's south face is considered by mountaineers to be a next-to-impossible climb, and no one has ever topped the mountain from that side.
Clouds hover over snow-covered Cho Oyu mountain in Tibet. The sixth-tallest mountain stands 8,201 meters tall (26,906 feet), and the "Mountain Goddess" (in Tibetan translation) is considered one of less-challenging climbs among the eight-thousanders (if you don't consider climbing ANY mountain a challenge, that is!).
Next in the eight-thousander club is Makalu, the fifth-highest mountain in the world, looming on the border between Nepal and China. It's 8,463 meters (27,766 feet) tall and is another tough climb, with 22 deaths tallied against its 206 successful climbs.
Standing 8,516 meters tall (27,940 feet), Lhotse, fourth-tallest, rests on the border of Nepal and Tibet. It was first climbed in 1956.
Kangchenjunga, in Nepal, is the world's third-tallest mountain, edging Lhotse by just 71 meters, standing 8,587 meters tall (28,169 feet). It's a prominent mark on the horizon in Darjeeling, the tea-growing region.
K2, the second-tallest mountain on the planet, is 8,611 meters up in the clouds (28,251 feet) along the China-Pakistan border. Climbers know it for its incredibly difficult ascent routes; in 2008, an ice fall on the treacherous slopes took the lives of 11 climbers.
And now we reach the Big Daddy in the worldwide mountains club. That, of course, would be Mount Everest. Its name alone is synonymous with challenging feats, as climbing it continues to this day to be a dicey endeavor, though it draws people year after year to attempt the ascent. And what a climb: Mount Everest stands 8,848 meters tall (29,029 feet). It was famously crested for the first time in 1953 by New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay.