Bodies of renowned American mountain climber and his cameraman are found in melting glacier - 16 years after they were buried in a Himalayan avalanche

  • Alex Lowe was regarded as the world's greatest mountain climber when he was swept to his death at age 40
  • He and cameraman David Bridges, 29, were swept away in an avalanche in October 1999
  • Two climbers attempting to ascend the 26,291-foot Shishapangma in Tibet discovered the remains of two people partially melting out of a glacier
  • They described their clothing and backpacks to Conrad Anker, who was climbing with Lowe and Bridges at the time and survived
  • Anker hasn't seen the remains but recognized the depiction of their gear and concluded that the two were Bridges and Lowe

The bodies of a renowned mountain climber and cameraman have been found in a glacier, 16 years after they were buried in a Himalayan avalanche.

Alex Lowe, 40, and David Bridges, 29, were swept to their death in October 1999 while a third climber, Conrad Anker, survived.

Lowes's widow said in a statement Friday that two climbers attempting to ascend the 26,291-foot Shishapangma in Tibet discovered the remains of two people partially melting out of a glacier. 

The climbers, David Goettler, from Germany, and Ueli Steck, from Switzerland, described the clothing and backpacks seen on the bodies to Anker, who concluded that the two were Bridges and Lowe, the statement said.

Scroll down for video 

Alex Lowe (pictured) was 40 when a Himalayan avalanche swept him to his death in October 1999 with cameraman David Bridges, 29

Alex Lowe (pictured) was 40 when a Himalayan avalanche swept him to his death in October 1999 with cameraman David Bridges, 29

Conrad Anker, who was with Lowe and Bridges (pictured) during the 1999 avalanche, heard a description of the bodies and identified them

Conrad Anker, who was with Lowe and Bridges (pictured) during the 1999 avalanche, heard a description of the bodies and identified them

Two climbers found the bodies still encased in blue ice, partially emerging from a melting glacier as they attempted to ascend the 26,291-foot Shishapangma in Tibet

Two climbers found the bodies still encased in blue ice, partially emerging from a melting glacier as they attempted to ascend the 26,291-foot Shishapangma in Tibet

'Alex and David vanished, were captured and frozen in time. Sixteen years of life has been lived and now they are found. We are thankful,' Jenni Lowe-Anker said. 

She married Anker, Lowe's friend and fellow elite climber, in 2001, and he adopted their three sons, Max, Isaac, and Sam.

The couple live in Bozeman, Montana, and run the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation together.

The couple were in Kathmandu, Nepal, when Goettler and Steck called him from Tibet to tell him about the remains.

The bodies were still encased in blue ice and had begun to emerge from the glacier when Goettler and Steck spotted them.

Anker said the discovery has brought him closure and relief.

He told Outside magazine that although he hasn't seen photos of the remains, he's convinced they are those of Lowe and Bridges.

'They were close to each other. Blue and red North Face backpacks. Yellow Koflach boots. It was all that gear from that time period. They were pretty much the only two climbers who were there,' Anker said.

Lowe (pictured), known jokingly as Lungs With Legs for his incredible strength and stamina, was regarded as the world's greatest mountain climber at the time of his death
Bridges, Lowe (pictured), Anker and six others were on an expedition to climb Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world, when the deadly avalanche happened

Lowe (pictured), known jokingly as Lungs With Legs for his incredible strength and stamina, was regarded as the world's greatest mountain climber at the time of his death

Anker (left) survived the 1999 avalanche and came out with a broken rib and injuries to the head. He later married Lowe's widow Jennifer (right) and adopted the couple's three sons

Anker (left) survived the 1999 avalanche and came out with a broken rib and injuries to the head. He later married Lowe's widow Jennifer (right) and adopted the couple's three sons

Lowe-Anker wrote in the last paragraph of her 2008 memoir, Forget Me Not: 'Alex will melt out of the glacier one day... And I do not look forward to it.'

She told Outside magazine after the bodies were found: 'I kind of never realized how quickly it would be that he’d melt out. I thought it might not be in my lifetime.'

The couple, along with their three sons, plan to go to Tibet this summer to recover the bodies.

They want to hold a ceremony in Nyalam, Tibet, which is the closest town.

'It’s never something you look forward to,' Lowe-Anker told Outside. 'To see the body of somebody you loved and cared about. But there is a sense that we can put him to rest, and he’s not just disappeared now.'

They haven't spoken to the Bridges family yet.

Bridges, Lowe, Anker and six others were on an expedition to climb Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world.

The group hoped to be the first American team to ski down a 26,000-foot peak, Rock And Ice magazine wrote.

They were scouting out routes at about 19,000 feet when they saw a slab of snow break free 6,000 feet above them.

Bridges and Lowe ran to the left, Outside magazine wrote, and were trapped under the snow.

Anker ran to the right downhill was thrown away and came out with a broken rib and injuries to the head, but was still able to walk.

'From my perspective there was just this big white cloud, and then it settled and there was nothing there,' he told Outside. 'And it was just so massive and so big. There wasn’t that sense of closure.'

Rescuers looked for Lowe and Bridges for 20 hours without success.

Lowe, known jokingly as Lungs With Legs for his incredible strength and stamina, was regarded as the world's greatest mountain climber at the time.

He had made difficult climbs all over the world, including Nepal's Kwangde and Kusum Kanguru, and twice reached the summit of Mount Everest. In Peru, he climbed the southwest buttress of Taulliraju.

He was credited with rescuing several climbers in Alaska in 1995, a year when six climbers died on Mount McKinley.

Bridges, of Aspen, Colorado was an accomplished high-altitude climber and cinematographer as well as a two-time US paragliding champion.

Ueli Steck (left), from Switzerland, and David Goettler (right), from Germany, called Anker after finding the remains of Lowe and Bridges and described their clothing and backpacks

Ueli Steck (left), from Switzerland, and David Goettler (right), from Germany, called Anker after finding the remains of Lowe and Bridges and described their clothing and backpacks

Lowe, Anker, Bridges and several others were on an expedition to climb Shishapangma (left), the 14th highest mountain in the world, then ski down it when they saw a slab of snow break free 6,000 feet above them

Lowe, Anker, Bridges and several others were on an expedition to climb Shishapangma (left), the 14th highest mountain in the world, then ski down it when they saw a slab of snow break free 6,000 feet above them

{"status":"success","code":"200"}