With it’s classic design, neutral angle blade and abnormally large spike, it seems as though this axe was well designed for meandering through low-angle snowfields thinking about the late greats and golden ages – but nothing more.
Winter in the Himalaya is difficult for many reasons. Temperatures at base camp can plummet to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and much lower farther up. Because of the cold, climbing at night is virtually impossible, and the days are short. The winds are much stronger and more persistent because of the jet stream, which blows almost constantly from December through the end of March. Tents are constantly being destroyed or blown away. The wind also strips away the snow, exposing rock and hard ice, making easier slopes more technical and time-consuming. Lower barometric pressure leads to less oxygen in the air. The combination of these factors makes for an exhausting, and generally miserable experience.
In the early 1990’s Lowe struggled through a divorce, a failed business and deep remorse for neglecting his two-year-old daughter. Needing an escape from this emotional crisis, he made a solo pilgrimage to the Eiger’s Nordwand. When one of the world’s greatest climbers makes a solo winter attempt on the most legendary north face in the world, an extraordinary story is inevitable.
Irwin began writing when his father made him keep a journal on family vacations. As he grew older, writing became an increasingly important part of his life. He coupled this passion with a love of the outdoors, and it has taken him across North America and beyond. His travels are always under the banner of climbing, skiing, fly-fishing and, of course, writing.
British climbing legend Joe Brown was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to rock climbing and mountaineering.”