The legendary climber and star of “Meru” discusses the discovery of his climbing partner’s body, his recent heart attack and why he feels an urgency to talk politics.
For mountaineering legend Conrad Anker, 2016 was an “out-of-sorts” year in a “really bizarre life.”
It started with a snub.
The 2015 film “Meru,” which documented Anker’s arduous journey to fulfill his greatest ambition and climb the Shark’s Fin route on Meru Peak in India, did not receive an Academy Award nomination.
Then, in April, the bodies of climbing partner Alex Lowe and friend David Bridges were found. They had been killed in a 1999 avalanche in the Himalayas that also partially buried Anker.
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In November, Anker suffered a heart attack at 20,000 feet while attempting to ascend an unclimbed Himalayan peak. He had to rappel down, hike to camp and then get a helicopter airlift to a nearby hospital for surgery.
Even for a man used to a bird’s-eye view of the world, last year’s U.S. election gave Anker a shake.
Before the American Alpine Club’s annual benefit dinner Saturday in Seattle, the 54-year-old Anker discussed 2016, his health and outdoor activism.
On an emotional phone call
“Years come in cycles. ’99 was a really heavy year. It was the year that I discovered the body of George Mallory and then Alex [Lowe] died. It was a very tumultuous year in my life.”
In April, “I got a phone call on my Nepali cellphone, and it was from my friends that were climbing there and they knew that by identification it was the bodies of our friends, David Bridges and Alex Lowe. That was a real tough one to go through. Then, we [Lowe’s widow, whom Anker later married] went back the last two weeks of June and recovered their bodies and cremated them at altitude.”
On what he learned from his heart attack
“I’ve got a year off [from major…