Did you notice that in only one of the five photos of Alex Lowe in your memorial feature ("The Man Who Matched Our Mountains," December), he wasn't smiling? This was a guy who lived life and died loving what it gave him. Thanks to Outside for that tribute. It brought tears to my eyes.
Ormond Beach, Florida
I met Alex Lowe last summer on top of the Grand, in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. At the time I had no idea who he was—just some very happy, extremely fit guy. I was a novice climber, and it was my 30th birthday. He led the other climbers in a chorus of "Happy Birthday," took pictures of our group for me, and told jokes on the climb down the
mountain. Later, I saw his picture in a local paper and realized he was one of the world's best climbers. The world has lost not only a great climber but a great person.
In the wake of Alex Lowe's death, adulation abounds for his mountaineering achievements, but little note has been made of what is certainly the most tragic element: the legacy left to Lowe's children. If Lowe died doing what he loved, so be it. But his death raises the question of what he loved most. Avalanches happen all the time at high altitude, and
climbers die all the time. I understand and respect the deep, compelling pull of the mountains. Still, if you can't live without the risk, then you simply shouldn't have children.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
I first heard a story about Alex Lowe a few years ago when I was in college, and I have been thinking about it ever since the avalanche that took his life. In 1995, he climbed back upDenali and rescued two climbers, carrying one of them on his back, to a high-altitude helicopter rescue. Lowe inspired me in many ways, in my outdoor adventures, my home
life, and my quest to do 400 pull-ups a day.
Will Work for Dream Job
As a 19-year-old aspiring recreation guide, I seem to get no end of discouragement, but your recent article "Dream Jobs: The Best Careers in the Outdoors" (December) not only outlined more options for my future, it's also helping me gauge how hard I'll have to work to get
where I want to go. Thanks.
Madison Avenue Detour
Amen, Brother Greenfeld, for your article about the way advertisers have always used the outdoors to sell products ("Under the Billboard Sky," December). I've worked in the Cascades as a biologist, lived on a wildlife refuge in California, and worked as a ranger in national parks
all over the country, and all that in a beat-up, two-door Mazda. In the end it still comes down to how badly you actually want to get out there, not what you own. As a wise man once said, true mountaineering only really requires duct tape and a plane ticket.
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Walking the Fine Line
When I read Mark Jenkins's column about the canyoneering disaster in Interlaken, Switzerland, in which 21 people died last July, time stood still ("A Storm in the Distance," The Hard Way, November). The event brought back memories from my own brother's untimely death on Harder
Mountain near Interlaken. After a fateful decision to take a short cut off the trail, he fell 400 feet to his death. Risk is everywhere, and we can't stop living just because it is too risky. But I hope that adventurers and the people who entrust their lives to them use the common-sense approach when taking risks with Mother Nature.
Bruce Barcott's article "The Secret Life of Guides" (December) reminded me of my former job as an outdoor instructor, during which I acquired skills—working with people, leading teams, problem solving—that have been more applicable to my life than any I've gained in
my business career. I herald the guides who help provide these experiences and applaud the universities that give college credit for outdoor leadership courses.
How incredibly pleased I was to find your November issue packed with a big section on alpine skiing ("Outside's Snow Report 2000") in these days when it seems as if everyone has gone snowboard-happy. You are one of the only outdoor magazines I have
read lately that have not gone completely I-drink-Mountain-Dew-and-listen-to-Korn-and-board-therefore-I-own-the-slopes-mad. Kudos.
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