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In new “Torn” film, legendary climber Alex Lowe’s son reckons with his 1999 avalanche death

See the radically intimate documentary by Max Lowe out now

A shot from the movie “Torn” that follows climber Alex Lowe’s son, Mex, as he grieves his death.
A shot from the movie “Torn” that follows climber Alex Lowe’s son, Mex, as he grieves his death.

Max Lowe was 10 years old when his dad, the superstar mountaineer Alex Lowe, died in an avalanche on an expedition in Tibet in October 1999.

Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, Conrad Anker, went on to marry Alex’s widow and raise Max and his two brothers sons. Now a filmmaker, Max used his camera as a therapeutic tool for himself and the family, attempting to reckon with the trauma of their loss in intimate interviews and by digging through Alex’s archives at their Bozeman home.

The result is “Torn,” a revelatory and radically intimate documentary has been touring across the U.S. since the Telluride Film Festival and recently had its theatrical premiere in New York.

The Lowes and Anker were finally able to recover Alex’s remains from the avalanche site on Shishapangma in 2016. But the process didn’t provide closure, Max Lowe recalled in a recent video interview. Instead, it had the opposite effect and led him to work through his trauma with his family on film.

“I made this film with the hope that it would reach a larger audience of folks and people who don’t know anything about climbing but do know something about family and loss,” Lowe said. “I think anyone who has experienced any sort of loss can relate to our story in a way. And it’s been pretty powerful to hear the feedback.”

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