His presence made other people better. You didn't even have to be on the same mountain or on the same ridge or on the same rope with him. You tried harder simply because you knew that he was around. To me, that was the shining brightness of Alex Lowe.
We had many conversations about trying to do too much in our lives. He wasn't just Alex the engineer, Alex the mathematician. Alex the family man. But when you have the energy and the drive that he did, if you don't try to do it all and live life to the fullest, then what are you doing? He wore me out whenever we were together, but never compromised that intensity of spirit.
We were on a ledge 1,700 feet up Great Sail Peak, on Baffin Island, camping out in some bad weather. We were all just sitting around, but Alex had built himself this small gym out of boulders and stuff on the other side of the ledge. He had put up a pullup bar, had bungees to do curls, and built up rocks so he could do dips. He went through camp with his gym shorts on, going tent to tent, asking if anyone wanted to work out with him. We all huddled in our bags, laughing. The way he channeled that energy, he had so much more than most people.
Alex was pure Montana in an age of Hollywood. He showed us that you can be great—even the best in the world—and not lose character or genuine passion. It takes a lot to keep the flame burning so hot. Alex kept his own burning, and at the same time, he was the one who started the fire in a lot of others.
He did everything 120 percent. When he went to the gym, he didn't just go to the gym, he did 120 percent of the gym. And then he'd drink coffee—a quadruple latte, not just a coffee. And then he'd play with his kids with intensity. He's one of the greatest climbers ever. Yet he didn't really have an ego.
I'd climb with him in Yosemite, do a big wall at El Cap, and people would recognize him going into the climbing shop. They'd come up and ask, 'Are you Alex Lowe?' And he'd go, 'Yeah.' The typical worship situation, which Alex felt real uncomfortable with. But within a few minutes, he'd always get the discussion worked around towards what that person was doing. Didn't matter what level or what they were climbing. He'd be asking them, "How was it?"
I have a hard time writing about Alex—we all loved him. I've always told friends who inquired about whether we were related, "No, he's superior genetic material." And in reality it was not a joke. I enjoyed climbing more with Alex than anyone else. His pleasure at being in the mountains and solving their puzzles added intensely to my own experience. Alex compressed more climbing into any five years than I did in my entire career.
We lost a great friend, but the mountains have the last word. And they always speak loudly.
Jim Williams, Senior Guide, Exum