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For one Colorado family, a son’s Everest ascent was a 36-hour exercise in anxiety

Pete Lowry's ascent of Mount Everest left his family back home in Colorado agonizing for 36 hours

Peter Lowry stands atop Mt. Everest on May 23. (Peter Lowry, special to The Colorado Sun)
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When Peter Lowry summited Mount Everest on May 23, he didn’t do it alone.  

His family back home in Colorado was with him every step of the way, thanks to Cybercast, a blog managed by his climbing company that tracked the team’s movements.  

“We were glued to the Cybercast. We would check it when we went to bed and then again when we couldn’t sleep!” says Peter’s mom, Susan Lowry. “We heard about the deaths. We knew these people had died up there, and then they kept on dying. It was nerve-wracking.”

“It was always in the back of my mind, the chances of him having a disastrous outcome,” admits Bruce Lowry, Peter’s father.

After an agonizing 36 hours of waiting and praying as their son made the climb and then came back down, the Lowrys could finally breathe more easily.

EVEREST 2019 SUMMIT!!!

POSTED ON MAY 23, 2019

Hello Everyone,

We successfully stood on top if the World today… We are safely back to the South Col and heading off to bed! More details tomorrow!

Ben Jones

Expedition Leader

RELATED: Colorado climber stepped over newly dead bodies to summit Everest. He’s still wrestling with what it all means.

Then came Peter’s text:

May 24, 9 am

We made it down to camp 2. We have a 1am wakeup (4 hours from now) to go down through the icefall to base camp. Helicopter out the following morning!

Still, for Susan, Tums was the word until her eldest son landed in Denver.

“We never told him not to climb Everest, but I did suggest to him that there are plenty of 14’ers in Colorado. I am so glad Everest is over. I hope he doesn’t want to do it again.”

Lowry says he is “over” Everest.

But he’s still got two more peaks to go before he can say he climbed the seven summits, which are the highest points on each continent. He plans to knock off the last two, 18,500-foot Mount Elbrus in Russia’s Caucasus and Kosciuszko in Australia, by early next year.

The psychology of successfully completing this dream is personal for Lowry, and maybe something his parents will never understand.  

“Up there, there’s kind of a purity and singularity of purpose that you don’t get in the multi-tasking world that we now live in,” he tells The Colorado Sun from his home in Golden.  

Even though climbing Mount Everest was the most miserable he’s ever been, it’s also the most exhilarated.

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“About 50 yards from the summit when you know it’s in the bag … having successfully put together the physical and mental and it all comes together, it’s an incredible sense of accomplishment.”

He compares this feeling to a runner’s high. He almost had his chance to experience that when his brother asked him to join him for a marathon, but Lowry turned him down because “running that far is crazy.”

Not as crazy as his family and friends think he is for spending $70,000 and putting his life on hold to gasp for breath tethered to a rope at  29,000-feet.

Lowry saved Australia’s Koscuiszko for last because it’s a manageable 7,000 feet — low enough that his dad, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease last year,  may be able to make the climb with him. High enough that they can see the top of the world together.

“Parkinson’s is my burden right now,” says Bruce Lowry, a retired Denver area anesthesiologist. “I’m honored, but we will have to see about that.”

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