Mountaineer George Lowe passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 89 after leading an astounding life of adventure that took him to the Himalaya, Antarctica and beyond. His passing marks the end of a mountaineering era, as he was the last remaining survivor of the team that first successfully climbed Mt. Everest back in 1953.
By all accounts, Lowe was instrumental in putting Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on top of the mountain. He did much of the work shuttling gear up the South Col to help establish the high camps and broke trail for the two men who would eventually claim the lion’s share of the glory. It was also Lowe who was first to go up the slopes of Everest to greet his life-long friend Hillary, and the Sherpa guide Norgay, while they were still descending from their historic climb.
A talented photographer, Lowe managed to capture many of the iconic images that helped chronicle the expedition that finally conquered Everest. Those skills earned him a spot on the first Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which crossed that continent for the first time in 1957-58.
A renowned ice climber, Lowe was a schoolteacher by trade although the remote places of the planet called to him more. As part of a New Zealand climbing team, he and some friends managed to climb six new peaks in the Himalaya in 1951 alone. Other expeditions took him to Greenland, Ethiopia and the Pamirs. Later in life he would serve as part of the U.K.’s Department of Education serving as an inspector of schools. He also helped fund the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust in that country as well.
Lowe truly lived a life of exploration and adventure. His journeys took him to the far corner of the globe and into the history books. While it is sad to see him pass, 89 years of adventure is quite a lot for any single lifetime. I give George a tip of the cap for a life well lived.