This year marks the 50th anniversary of the very first Lowe Alpine sack in 1967, when brothers Jeff and Greg Lowe developed the clean-lined Expedition Pack, a technical rucksack aimed squarely at climbers and mountaineers.
And 50 years later the brand is still going strong in the pack market with a whole new range of Ascent climbing sacks set to be launched this spring. Of course all outdoor brands like to lay claim to a rich outdoors heritage, but with Lowe Alpine it’s the real thing.
Start Them Young…
The Lowe brothers – Mike, Greg and Jeff – started their mountaineering careers early, each being taken up the Exum Ridge of Grand Teton by their father Ralph at the age of 10, 9 and 7 years respectively. With seven-year-old Jeff being the youngest climber ever to tackle the route at the time.
From that start, the Lowe brothers quickly developed into talented climbers and, as teenagers, rapidly outstripped their father’s abilities, though building on the foundations he gave them.
‘The skills and judgement learned in those early years became the basis for our pursuit of recreation, work and lifestyle’ – Mike Lowe
The brothers were distinctly different though. Greg was a talented climber in his own right, but also an inventor with a flair for developing ingenious hardware solutions – as a child he managed to convert a cap-firing toy pistol into a real weapon using his own home-brewed gun powder.
Jeff, meanwhile, was fascinated with the challenges of climbing alpine style in the Himalayas, fascinated by the idea of taking on 8,000m peaks by routes that had to both offer technical difficulty and, in his words ‘most importantly, take an elegant line’.
Notably he made the first ascent, solo, of the south face of Ama Dablam and almost succeeded on the the north ridge of Latok. He also, in 1990, went on to free climb the Trango Tower in Pakistan with Catherine Destivelle.
That Was Then…
The fledgling Lowe Alpine kit was produced in the basement of the Lowe family home in Ogden, Utah. In particular, the first Expedition Pack – did what it says on the can – pioneered load carrying technology that made it stand out from anything else around.
‘It was the way they carried that made all the difference,’ recalls Jeff Lowe of the first testing sessions hauling huge loads into the Wind Rivers in 1969. ‘Our aspirations were to create the most functional, highest quality gear systems for the climbs of our dreams’.
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