George Lowe Articles, Memorabilia

Hawke’s Bay Today
Saturday, March 23, 2013

Farewell to local hero with link to Everest

FROM PAGE 1

Moving to England, he made a point of returning to Hawke’s Bay for some time at least once a year, often visiting his old school, and on one visit, in 2004, was accorded Freedom of the City in an investiture by Mayor Lawrence Yule.

Until his death he was the last surviving climber from the team that helped establish the final camp 300m below the Everest summit the day before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the peak.

Sir Ed’s son, Peter, yesterday remembered Mr Lowe as a talented man who shared his father’s passions for climbing and helping others.

Mr Lowe had contributed to the mountaineering community in New Zealand and overseas, including the education of people living near Mt Everest in the Himalayas. Those people were “were real priorities for George”, he told Radio New Zealand.

“That’s perhaps one of the really significant thing about today losing George. It just is another stamp of how important this New Zealand connection with Mt Everest is,” he said.

He referred to the Mt Everest climbs involving his father and Mr Lowe and their later work, building the schools and hospitals. “It’s been a long New Zealand involvement with the highest mountain on the planet.”

SIR VIVIAN FUCHS AND SIR EDMUND HILLARY
THE CROSSING OF ANTARCTICA

FREE MAN: George Lowe and Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule in 2004, as Mr Lowe was conferred with Freedom of the City. PHOTO/FILE

HILLARY, Sir Edmund Percival KG, ONZ, KBE. On January 11, 2008, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family, at Auckland City Hospital. Much loved husband of June, loved father of Sara and Peter, and the late Belinda. Grandfather of Arthur and Anna, Amelia, George, Alexander and Lily. Stepfather of Robyn and Susan, grandfather of Rebecca, Amy, William and Sam. A State funeral will be held at St Mary’s Holy Trinity Church, Parnell Road, Parnell on Tuesday, January 22 at 11am followed by private cremation. Sir Edmund will be lying-in-state at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Monday, January 21.

GEORGE LOWE 1924 – 2013
Ed Hillary
Sir Edmund Hillary

To Harrison Reeve
Ed Hillary

HELM, Arthur Stanley, QSO, MBE, MA. Passed away peacefully – August 20, 1998. Beloved husband of Jenny. Loved father and father-in-law of Craig and Fiona, Claire and Hames. Loved grandfather of Georgia and Louis. In lieu of flowers donations to the Alzheimer’s Society, PO Box 16049, Wellington, would be much appreciated. A Service for Arthur will be held at our Cockburn Street Chapel, Cockburn Street, Kilbirnie on Tuesday August 25, 1998, at 2pm. Thereafter Private Cremation. Harbour City Funeral Home, FDANZ. Tel 387-6301.

The Crossing of Antartica
THE COMMONWEALTH TRANS-ATLANTIC EXPEDITION 1955-58

For Harrison Reeve, with best wishes. George Lowe 6-12-99

For Harrison Reeve
With Best Wishes
Arthur Helm
Secretary Ross Sea Committee
9 August 1997.

HARRISON REEVE
57 PASADENA CRES.
TOTARA PARK
UPPER HUTT, N.Z.

BRIAN REEVE
57 PASADENA CRES.
TOTARA PARK
UPPER HUTT, N.Z.

MEETING EVEREST MOUNTAINEER

MR GEORGE LOWE
FRΙDΑΥ 19ΤΗ ΝΟVΕΜΒΕR 1999

WΗΙLΕ WΕ WΕRΕ ΟΝ ΗΟLΙDΑΥ ΙΝ ΗΑWΚΕS ΒΑΥ ΙΝ 1999 Ι ΗΑD ΤΗΕ GREAT FORTUNE TO MEET MR GEORGE LOWE WHO WAS ON THE 1953 ΕΧΡΕDΙΤΙΟΝ ΤΟ DΟ ΤΗΕ FΙRSΤ CLΙΜΒ ΟF ΜΟUΝΤ ΕVΕRΕSΤ.

SUZIE, HARRISON (AGE 4 YEARS) AND 1 WERE JUST LEAVING THE K-MART SHOPPING ΜΑLL ΟΝ ΤΗΕ CΟRΝΕR ΟF SΤ ΑUΒΥΝ ΕΑSΤ ΑΝD ΚΑRΑΜU RΟΑD ΝΟRΤΗ ΙΝ ΗΑSΤΙΝGS. Α CΟUΡLΕ ΗΑD JUSΤ ΡΑRΚΕD ΤΗΕΙR CΑΜΡΕRVΑΝ ΝΕΧΤ ΤΟ ΟUR CΑR. WΕ ΕΧCΗΑΝGΕD SMILES. I RECOGNISED THE MAN AS THE FAMOUS MOUNTAINEER FROM THE 1953 ΕVΕRΕSΤ ΕΧΡΕDΙΤΙΟΝ ΜR GΕΟRGΕ LΟWΕ. GRΑΒΒΕD Α ΝΕWSΡΑΡΕR ΑΝD ΡΕΝ FRΟΜ ΜΥ CΑR ΑΝD RUSΗΕD ΑFΤΕR ΤΗΕΜ ΙΝΤΟ ΤΗΕ ΜΑLL. FΟUΝD ΤΗΕΜ SΤΑΝDΙΝG ΙΝSΙDΕ ΤΗΕ ΜΑLL FΟΥΕR ΑΝD ΙΝΤRΟDUCΕD ΜΥSΕLF I ΤΟLD ΤΗΕΜ ΑΒΟUΤ ΟUR FΑΜΙLΥ FRΙΕΝD ΑRΤΗUR ΗΕLΜ ΑΝD RΕLΑΤΙVΕ ΡΕΤΕR ΜULGRΕW. ΗΕ ΚΝΕW ΒΟΤΗ ΟF ΤΗΕΜ. GΕΟRGΕ ΑΝD ΜΑRΥ ΗΑD JUSΤ SΡΕΝΤ ΤΙΜΕ WΙΤΗ ΕD ΑΝD JUΝΕ ΗΙLLΑRΥ ΙΝ RΕΜUΕRΑ AUCKLAND AND WERE DRIVING DOWN TO WELLINGTON TO SEE GEORGE’S SISTER IN SILVERSTREAM, UPPER HUTT. THEY WERE ON HOLIDAY IN A WHITE TOYOTA CAMPERVAN.

GΕΟRGΕ ΙS Α ΤΑLL DΙSΤΙΝGUΙSΗΕD ΜΑΝ WΙΤΗ WΗΙΤΕ ΗΑΙR ΑΝD ΒΕΑRD. ΗΕ ΑΝD ΗΙS WΙFΕ MARY LIVE IN LONDON NOW AND ARE CURRENTLY HOLIDAYING IN NEW ZEALAND. ΗΕ WΑS ΒΟRΝ ΙΝ ΗΑSΤΙΝGS ΙΝ 1924. ΗΕ ΤΟLD ΜΕ ΤΗΑΤ ΗΕ WΑS GIVΙΝG ΑΝ ΙLLUSΤRΑΤΕD LECTURE TO THE ALPINE CLUB IN WELLINGTON ON 6″ DECEMBER, AND “WOULD I LIKE TO COME ALONG?”. I SAID THAT “I WOULD”. BEFORE WE PARTED COMPANY HE SIGNED THE FRONT PAGE OF MY HAWKES BAY TODAY NEWSPAPER (19 Nov 1999) FOR OUR SON ΗΑRRΙSΟΝ.WΗΕΝ Ι RΕΤURΝΕD ΤΟ ΟUR CΑR WΙΤΗ ΤΗΕ SΙGΝΕD ΝΕWSΡΑΡΕR SUΖΙΕ WΑS BEMUSED AND HAD NO IDEA WHY I HAD RUSHED OFF IN SUCH A BIG HURRY. I WAS SO ΕΧCΙΤΕD ΒΥ ΤΗΕ ΤΙΜΕ Ι GΟΤ ΒΑCΚ ΤΟ ΟUR CΑR. ΙΤ WΑS Α ΤΗRΙLL ΤΟ ΜΕΕΤ Α ΜΑΝ ΤΗΑΤ I ΗΑVΕ ΑDΜΙRΕD FΟR SUCΗ Α LΟΝG ΤΙΜΕ. Ι SΑΙD ΤΟ SUΖΙΕ ΤΗΑΤ ” ΤΗΙS IS ΤΗΕ RΕΑL ΗΙGΗLIGΗΤΟF ΜΥ ΗΟLΙDΑΥ”. Ι ΗΑVΕ ΑΤ ΗΟΜΕ GΕΟRGΕ’S ΒΟΟΚ “ΒΕCΑUSΕ ΙΤ ΙS ΤΗΕRΕ”

ON 6TH DECEMBER 1999 I TURNED UP AT THE ALPINE CLUB MEETING AT THE WELLINGTON LAW SCHOOL IN THE OLD WOODEN GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS WITH MY FRIEND DAVID CLEGG. WE HEARD HIS WONDERFUL LECTURE ALL ABOUT THE MOUNT EVEREST ΕΧΡΕDΙΤΙΟΝ. ΑFΤΕR ΤΗΕ SUCCΕSSFUL ΑSCΕΝΤ ΟF ΕVΕRΕSΤ ΟΝ 29 ΜΑΥ 1953 ΙΤ WΑS ΤΟ GEORGE LOWE THAT ED HILLARY MADE THE FAMOUS STATEMENT ….WELL… “WΕ ΚΝΟΟΚΕD ΤΗΕ ΒΑSΤΑRD ΟFF”

GEORGE ILLUSTRATED HIS TALK WITH WONDERFUL COLOUR SLIDES TAKEN DURING THE EXPEDITION. HE IS A GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER AND THEY ARE SUPERB. AFTER THE LECTURE HE VERY KINDLY SIGNED MY COPY OF HIS BOOK ….BECAUSE IT IS THERE FΟR ΜΕ ΑΝD ΑLSΟ CΟΡΥ ΟF ΜΥ ΗΙLLΑRΥ / FUCΗS ΒΟΟΚ ΟΝ ΤΗΕ ΤRΑΝS-ΑΝΤΑRCΤΙC ΕΧΡΕDΙΤΙΟΝ ΟF 1958 FΟR ΗΑRRΙSΟΝ. WΕ ΗΑD ΝΟ CΑΜΕRΑ ΒUΤ Α ΚΙΝD ΜΑΝ CΑLLΕD ΡΕΤΕR WΙΤΗ Α SΜΑLL CΑΜΕRΑ CLΟSΕΒΥ ΚΙΝDLΥ ΡΗΟΤΟCRΑΡΗΕD US WΙΤΗ GΕΟRGΕ. I HAD KNOW IDEA WHO HE WAS. I THANKED HIM VERY MUCH INDEED AND I SAID… “CΟSΗ ΤΗΑΤ ΙSΑ SΜΑLL CΑΜΕRΑ ” ΤΟ WΗΙCΗ ΗΕ RΕΡLΙΕD ” ΥΕS ΒUΤ ΙΤ ΙS ΑVΕRΥ GΟΟD ONE“. MY FRIEND DAVID WAS VERY AMUSSED [AMUSED] AS HE COULD SEE THAT I HAD NO IDEA WΗΟ I WΑS ΤΑLΚΙΝG ΤΟ. ΤΗΕ ΜΑΝ ΙΝΤRΟDUCΕD ΗΙΜSΕLF ΑΝD SΑΙD ” ΗΕLLΟ Ι ΑΜ ΡΕΤΕR ΒUSΗ ” ΗΕ ΙS Α FΑΜΟUS ΡΗΟΤΟGRΑΡΗΕR WΗΟ ΗΑS ΤΑΚΕΝ ΡΗΟΤΟS ΟF ΤΗΕ ΟUΕΕΝ THE BEATLES, RUGBY PLAYERS AND MANY CELEBRITIES. WE WENT TO PETER’S HOUSE ΙΝ ISLΑΝD ΒΑΥ ΤΟ ΡΙΟΚ UΡ CΟΡΙΕS ΟF ΤΗΕ ΡΗΟΤΟS ΤΗΑΤ ΗΕ ΚΙΝDLΥ ΤΟΟΚ ΤΗΑΤ EVENING. VERY KIND OF HIM ….BRIAN REEVE

THIS FOLDER ΟΝ

GEORGE LOWE 1924 – 2013

WΑS SΤΑRΤΕD ΟΝ SATURDAY 23RD MARCH 2013 BY BRIAN REEVE OF ΤΟΤΑRΑ ΡΑRΚ UΡΡΕR ΗUΤΤ

MR LOWE DIED ON WEDNESDAY 2th MARCH 2013 ΑΤ RΙΡLΕΥ ΝURSΙΝG ΗΟΜΕ ΙΝ CENTRAL ENGLAND (AGED 89 YEARS)

I HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING MR GEORGE LOWE ΤWICE.

FIRST, IN HASTINGS N.Z ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 19″ 1999. SECONDLY, AT THE WELLINGTON ALPINE CLUB MEETING IN WELLINGTON ON 6TH DECEMBER 1999. THE MEETING WΑS ΗΕLD ΙΝ ΤΗΕ LΑW FΑCULΤΥ LΕCΤURΕ RΟΟΜS ΑΤ ΤΗΕ OLD GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS IN LAMBTON QUAY. HERE HE GAVE A WONDERFUL SLIDE – ILLUSTRATED LΕCΤURΕ ΟΝ ΤΗΕ 1953 ΑSCENT ΟF ΜΟUΝΤ ΕVΕRΕSΤ. ΗΕ ΚΙΝDLΥ SΙGΝΕD ΤWΟ ΒΟΟΚS FΟR ΜΕ ΤΗΑΤ ΕVΕΝΙΝG. MY FRIEND DAVID CLEGG AND I ALSO HAD OUR ΡΗΟΤΟCRΑΡΗ ΤΑΚΕΝ WΙΤΗ ΗΙΜ ΒΥΤΗΕ FΑΜΟUS ΝΕW ΖΕΑLΑΝD ΡΗΟΤΟCRΑΡΗΕR
MR PETER BUSH
DAVID AND I BOTH DID NOT HAVE CAMERAS WITH US, SO ΙΤ WΑS VΕRΥ ΚΙΝD ΟF ΜR BUSΗ ΤΟ ΤΑΚΕ ΟUR ΡΗΟΤΟ

Hastings Friday, April 5, 2013

A memorial service is expected to be held in Hastings for Mt Everest-Conquering expedition climber George Lowe, who died in England last week. He was 89. Lowe was born and raised in Hastings. His funeral will be held on April 8 in Derby, England. But brother Reuben, who lives in Hastings, said his widow Mary Lowe was keen for a memorial service to be held in Hawkes Bay at a later date.

Obituaries

THE DOMINION POST SATURDAY, MARCH 23, 2013

Gifted mountaineer, prized companion

Wallace George Lowe, mountaineer: b Napier, January 15, 1924; m (1) Susan Hunt (diss) 3s; (2) Mary Richards; d Ripley, England, March 20, 2013, aged 89.

GEORGE LOWE was a key member and the last survivor of the 1953 expedition in which Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Mt. Everest.

Lowe played a crucial part in the party’s success, displaying phenomenal strength and stamina to ferry kit up to the South Col, just shy of the peak, from where his friend, Sir Ed, and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay pushed on to the summit.

Spending day after day at altitudes of more than 7000 metres, Lowe often had to wade through waist-high snow to ensure everything was where it needed to be.

According to John Hunt, the British-led expedition’s leader, Lowe “put up a performance which will go down in the annals of mountaineering as an epic achievement of tenacity and skill”.

It was nothing less, Hunt added in his memoir, The Ascent of Everest, than an “astonishing feat of endurance”. Such was the effort that at one point Lowe himself felt “hollow and weak”.

When Sir Ed and Norgay were descending from the summit of Mt. Everest, it was Lowe, coming up from the South Col camp, who was the first to meet them.

He handed Sir Ed a mug of warm lemonade and heard his famous exclamation: “Well, George, we knocked the bastard off.”

He also passed Lowe a fragment of marine limestone. Millions of years earlier the rock had formed part of the sea floor. In 1953, it was a souvenir from the highest point on the planet.

Lowe had displayed superb ice craft over 10 days in spearheading a route up the Lhotse face, immediately below the South Col.

But he was not just a climber. He also carried with him a Kodak Retina II, capturing many images that effectively made him deputy to the official expedition cameraman, Tom Stobart.

When the party reached altitudes that Stobart, weakened by a bout of pneumonia, was unable to endure, Lowe provided the photographic record.

The film of the triumph, The Conquest of Everest, was itself a great success, and nominated for an Oscar. With his reputation on ice and with film assured, Lowe was recruited as official photographer in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1957-58, which made the first successful overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole.

Lowe joined the 12-man party of expedition leader British explorer Vivian Fuchs, which set out from Shackleton Base on one side of the continent, while Sir Ed led the support party from Scott Base on the other side, dropping supplies and establishing depots.

Fuchs relied on Lowe’s expertise to spot crevasses that were, Lowe later noted, “wider, deeper and harder to detect” than any he had previously encountered, and which posed a mortal threat to the tractors, dog teams and snowmobiles they used to get around.

In the event, Sir Ed reached the South Pole first, on January 3, 1958.

The teams met when Fuchs arrived on January 19.

Wallace George Lowe was the seventh of eight children. His father was a fruitgrower.

Aged 9, he shattered the bone in his left arm just above the elbow after falling off the steps of the veranda at home. The bone would not set correctly and had to be rebroken seven times.

His subsequent skill as an ice-climber was all the more remarkable, because the accident left the limb almost entirely without strength.

He was educated at Hastings West and Hastings Boys’ High School and soon developed an interest in photography, playing truant to hang around the studio of aviator Piet van Asch, who was taking large landscape photographs from the air.

Lowe even joined van Asch on several flights.

After qualifying as a school teacher, Lowe spent the immediate postwar years teaching at a primary school.

During the school holidays, however, he trained as a mountain guide, frequently teaming up with Sir Ed, five years his senior, in the Southern Alps, where they perfected their technique on peaks such as Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.

In 1951, the two men joined a four-man, four-month, New Zealand expedition to the Himalayas. The team had hoped, before setting off to conquer one 6000m-plus summit. In the event, they scaled six.

On the strength of this experience, he and Sir Ed were invited in 1952 to join Eric Shipton’s attempt on Mt Everest’s neighbour, Cho Oyu (8.180m), a journey which would also involve exploring the Barun Valley in the same region. Their talents ensured that both secured their places on what was to prove the historic Mt Everest expedition the next year.

However, planning in 1952 was not always up to the meticulous standards Hunt would set. Running short of supplies on the return journey to the Indian border, Sir Ed was forced to bargain with locals for one abundant foodstuff – bananas. According to Lowe, in an ensuing competition, Lowe consumed 120 in a single day. Hillary won their battle by eating 134.

After his return from the Antarctic in 1958, Lowe settled in England and became an inspector of schools till his retirement in 1984.

In 1989, he helped found the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust in Britain, established to improve conditions for Sherpas in the Himalayas. Lowe served as chairman till 2003.

With his ready wit, mobile face and gift for mimicry, he was an entertaining and amusing comrade. Few of his companions will forget his imitation of Cheyne-Stokes breathing patterns, a condition suffered by some people at high-altitude.

His 1962 book, Because It Is There, recounted his experiences on his two major expeditions. He was appointed OBE for services to mountaineering and exploration.

He counted himself Sir Ed’s oldest friend. Before his own death, Sir Ed wrote the foreword to The Conquest of Everest: Original Photographs from the Legendary First Ascent, which Lowe compiled with Huw Lewis-Jones and is to be published soon.

According to Sir Ed, Lowe “saved my life a few times over the years”.

“Down in Antarctica, I remember when we were trying to get our ship, Theron, clear of the ice and I was standing with George on an ice floe, cutting a channel. A steel cable fouled the propeller just as a rope end flicked and locked around my ankle. Quickly, yet calmly, George managed to knock it free before it came tight. A moment later and I would have been sucked under…

Lowe’s home in Derbyshire was filled with boxes of souvenirs from his climbing adventures – slides, press clippings and the like. But above all, he treasured the fragment of rock from the summit that Sir Ed had given him, and which he kept on his desk.

“It was always fairly simple,” he noted recently. “The mountains were a deep source of real happiness. They dispense a lion’s share of sorrow too, but it’s the joy that always wins out.” Telegraph Group

Photo caption – Top man: George Lowe was the last surviving climber from the team that made the first successful ascent of Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary.

According to John Hunt, the British-led expedition’s leader, Lowe put up a performance which will go down in the annals of mountaineering as an epic achievement of tenacity and skill”.

Saturday, March 23, 2013 Weekend Herald

“Marvellous No 2″ happy to follow Hillary’s lead

by Phil Taylor

Obituary

George Lowe CNZM, OBE 15.01.1924 – 20.03.2013

The Weekend Herald has a special memory of the last time it spoke to George Lowe, because it reflects his stoicism and renowned humour.

It was January 2008, the week Sir Edmund Hillary died, and I had travelled to Diamond Harbour to interview Lowe at his New Zealand home to which he returned from England for each southern summer.

As we arrived, Lowe’s wife, Mary, hurried to tell us that Lowe had had “a turn”. He was pale and speechless. He improved but wasn’t up to an interview so Mary became his voice.

Lowe, 89, died in England at a nursing home, the last surviving climber of the team that conquered Mt Everest. What’s not widely known is that it could easily have been Lowe on the summit. He was among the strongest but expedition leader Lord John Hunt preferred the symmetry of a Westerner and an Easterner.

Lowe helped set up Sir Ed and Tenzing Norgay’s final camp 300m from the top and cut ice steps to ease their final push. Mary said Lowe made a “marvellous number two”. “George didn’t want to be the leader. He was much happier working with a leader.”

The themes of that afternoon were the team effort it took and that Lowe’s friend was most suited to the fame the exploit bestowed.

“I’m absolutely delighted I didn’t have the life Ed’s had … I wouldn’t have had the diplomacy,” Mary relayed. An hour later, Lowe felt well enough to walk to the dining table on which photos and other memorabilia from their expeditions were spread.

Tapping a finger on a photo of himself and Hillary on Everest, he spoke his only sentence of the afternoon, four whispered words that could be his epitaph: “Been there, done that.”

Fellow Kiwi to Hillary on Everest team dies at 89

GEORGE LOWE 1924 – 2013

Because it is There
George Lowe

GEORGE LOWE 1924 – 2013

Robert Miller Collection

GEORGE LOWE’S LECTURE TO THE ALPINE CLUB 6 DEC 1999 PHOTO BY PETER BUSH. WELLINGTON

L to R David Clegg; George Lowe; Brian Reeve

My Mother in laws cousin was Peter Mulgrew
Ed Hillarys best friend.
We lost Peter and Aunt Kit Watson on Erebus in 1979.

For Harrison Reeve, with best wishes

Ed Hillary
29th May 1997

Original digital file

HastingsDC72GeorgeLoweBrianReeveCollection.pdf

Tags

Date published

2013

Creator / Author

  • Brian Reeve

People

  • Peter Bush
  • David Clegg
  • Vivian Fuchs
  • Arthur Stanley Helm
  • Sir Edmund Percival Hillary
  • Peter Hillary
  • John Hunt
  • George Lowe
  • Mary Lowe
  • Tenzing Norgay
  • Brian Reeve
  • Harrison Reeve
  • Eric Shipton
  • Phil Taylor
  • Piet van Asch
  • Mayor Lawrence Yule

Accession number

72/1012/35619

Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.