Interview | Jenni Lowe-Anker

Jenni Lowe-Anker will be signing at Black Diamond, 2092 East 3900 South, on September 9 at 7 p.m.

TKE: Your first husband, Alex Lowe, and your second, Conrad Anker, are world-famous mountaineers, which gives you particular insight into the mountaineering community. What do you believe drives people to risk so much to climb mountains?

JLA: Having lived with two world class climbers and having been a somewhat avid climber myself for a few years, one would think I have the answers to those often posed questions of why do they do it.

I’m not sure I can answer that any better than anyone else, and certainly the often quoted Mallory response, “Because it is there,” might answer it it best. Alex has a quote that is also popular. When asked whether he was the best climber in the world, he responded, “The best climber in the world is the one who is having the most fun.” Ultimately, no one wants to think that they are risking their life in any pursuit whether it be climbing, skiing, flying, white water rafting, driving or dashing across a busy street. I think people would rather believe that they are managing risk with their skills. Certainly, Alex took some risks in climbing, but the accident that took his life was sort of a fluke avalanche. The mountain appeared stable with no new snow and a serac broke off from the very summit, sending down a cascade of debris that built as it fell down the steep face of Shishapangma. He was there at the wrong moment. In the end, we are all going to die and whether a person risks losing life by eating too many trans-fats and sitting on the couch, smoking, base jumping or golfing on courses that are soaked in cancer-causing chemicals is all a part of the decisions that each of us as individuals get to make in living life.

TKE: You’re an artist first, author second. Was the transition difficult for you? Are there any similarities in the creative process?

JLA: The process of writing has certainly been similar in some ways to the process of producing a painting. The vision I had of the book was pretty similar to the the final product. I wanted to capture the essence of living life with Alex and the essence of his character through the many letters he wrote to me and through my memories. I believe that I have done that well. In painting, I usually have a similar vision before I begin a piece and the composition takes form immediately. As I wrote, I was so conscious of imagery, perhaps because I am an artist, but the images came to me from my past and my writing is descriptive of the many beautiful places I have seen. The book in a way is like an extensive show of many paintings.

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