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    The Lowe Alpine story starts with Ralph Lowe, whose life-long love of the mountains was a passion he passed down to his children; especially to his three sons Mike, Greg and Jeff. In 1956, Ralph took Mike (then aged 10), up the Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton in Wyoming. In 1958 he returned to do the same route with his younger sons Greg (aged 9) and Jeff (aged 7), making Jeff at the time the youngest person to complete the climb.
    By their late teens, the three brothers - along with their cousin George Lowe - were pushing climbing boundaries throughout the US. Greg was a gifted gymnast who could happily do one-finger pull-ups. His first ascent of Macabre Wall in 1967, a huge roof problem, was arguably the most difficult free climb in the world at the time and it was 20 years before the route saw a second ascent when it was graded 5.12c. Many also credit Greg with ‘the birth of modern ice climbing’ when in 1971 he made the first ascent of Mahlen’s Peak Waterfall, the first Grade 6 ice route.
    Meanwhile, Jeff was learning big wall techniques in Yosemite on Salathe Wall (7th ascent), North America Wall (5th ascent) and the Triple Direct (24hrs climbing time, very fast for 1970). He became fascinated with alpine style climbing in the Himalayas, culminating in the almost complete ascent of Pakistan’s North Ridge of Latok 1 in 1978.
    Jeff, with George Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Jim Donini, climbed 75 pitches to within 150m of the summit but were turned back by storms, sickness and lack of food. Dozens of attempts by top climbers since have failed to reach their high point.
    Jeff went on to develop ‘mixed’ rock and ice climbing techniques almost single-handed in the 1980s, and in 1991 solo climbed Metanoia, his Eiger North Face masterpiece; graded VII, 5.10, M6 it remains unrepeated.
    As the Lowe brothers’ climbing skills grew, so did their interest in creating new equipment. For Greg in particular, designing things had been an interest since childhood. Back in 1967, the brothers had started making backpacks out of their Utah basement. Greg wanted a mountain pack that could carry the loads needed for alpine-style winter climbing, with good balance and weight distribution.
    That first Expedition Pack was pretty revolutionary. Before then, backpacks used external frames and were stiff, painful and carried like a torture device. Greg’s design featured the first internal frame, first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and first load stabilizers.     All now considered industry standards, but back then truly groundbreaking.
    The new rucksacks were popular – so much so that the Lowe brothers started production in various locations across Colorado, ending up in Broomfield near Boulder.
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