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explores the life and climbs of legendary alpinist, Jeff Lowe. In 1958 at the age of 7 he was the youngest person to climb the Grand Teton with his father, Ralph and older brother, Greg (Click here to view Jeff's Climbers Register from 1958). Jeff became the most talented technical climber of his generation. For 40 years he practiced living in the present moment on some of the most beautiful rock faces in the world, from the Wasatch Mountains and big walls of Zion National Park in Utah to the Swiss Alps and on to the great Himalayan peaks. For the past decade Jeff has suffered from a relentlessly progressive neurological deterioration for which the doctors have no name. As he gets into his adapted van from his wheelchair, Jeff now moves with the same precision and attention to detail as he used to climb.

Jeff Lowe's "unimaginable climb" up the notorious North Face of the Eiger in 1991 is the hub of this biographical documentary. Acclaimed NY Times best selling author, Jon Krakauer, was the photographer for Jeff's famed 1st ascent. Jon will narrate the greater, more compelling story behind that climb and what lies beneath Jeff's high adventure lifestyle.

The indomitable spirit that brought Jeff Lowe through countless challenges in the mountains, finds new expression far from the vertical arena. Lowe's characteristic composure and resilience remain intact. In particular, the lessons from his 1991 solo Eiger ascent are still with him in his wheelchair today. Twenty years have passed. Jeff's extraordinary first ascent – Metanoia - has never been repeated. American and international audiences are about to discover one man's extraordinary grand circle that is completed in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.

Most climbing tales reduce to warriors toppling Trojan walls. This one recounts a different journey. It tells how a man at the height of his powers made himself a pilgrim among ghosts and discovered the way back to himself.

As Jeff climbed, every choice was tested by his purist ethic. No partner, no help from ropes left by others, none of the usual bolts - in mid-winter. Alone and increasingly at risk, climbing among ghosts and relics, and hammered by storms, he slowly transcended the recent chaos that had commandeered his life.

Near the top, out of food, pinned in a shallow limestone cave, and faced with yet another storm, Jeff heard a strange song. It lasted much of the day, and seemed to come from within the mountain. The next morning he emerged from his grotto and continued up. Barely surviving a fall that he actually jumped into, he finished the climb but disregarded the summit just 300 feet distant and 100 feet higher. Instead he accepted a helicopter descent rather than chance an avalanche and incoming storm, while climbing down the west side.

The haunting song has never been explained. Until now.
Jeff Lowe's Metanoia is a film memoir about a native son who entered the Utah Mountains, went out into the world, and finally came full-circle back to his roots. From Ogden's Olympic-class snow slopes, quartzite crags and frozen waterfalls to storied summits in Yosemite, the Alps and Himalayas, this modern-day mountain man spanned continents and changed forever the cutting-edge of ascent.

One hundred and fifty years ago, a persecuted people fled west across the American plains, traversed a gap in the Wasatch Mountains, and found their "place"; a wall of stone at their backs, land to plant and graze and the Great Basin stretching four-hundred miles to the west, an inland "sea" to feed their souls.

Over the years the Mormons and their children developed many communities north and south along the Utah mountain front. Their most unique creation might be the geographical, cultural and creative crossroads known as Ogden. One of those children was Jeff Lowe, son of a free-thinking WWII pilot war hero who had left the religious flock but came to Ogden to practice law, and a budding Seattle thespian who left dancing in the coast city behind and followed her man to the most eclectic town in the Zion state.

Fourth among eight children born to Ralph Lowe and Elgene Siefertson Lowe, Jeff took naturally to his father's code of self-reliance and self-responsibility.

Although "belly-achin" would get the kids nowhere with dad and not much further with mom, the family motto was "have fun, work hard and get smart", with the emphasis in that order, too. Although Elgene tried hard to convince her kids of the grace to be found in her Lutheran faith, most of them, including Jeff, found spiritual sustenance in the cathedrals of nature: the canyons and mountains and forests where their father worshipped. So the kaleidoscopic range of wild animals that shared the Lowe household and yards in the early years just seemed natural. The bobcat, the 8-foot python, the great-horned owl, the bald eagle, the badger, the wolves, the cougar - Bruno the bear and all the rest - were welcomed to the family as celestial entities, to be highly respected but never feared.
From the start, Jeff took to heart the pioneer spirit. His dad's introduction to skiing and climbing at the ages of four and six were like giving wings to a bird and hands to a monkey. He became a champion skier, but ultimately chose to leave competition with other humans behind to make ascent his lifetime passion.

As his widening spiral of adventures took him far away, he was continually amazed by how completely his childhood backyard playground had prepared him. The 27th Street Roof above Ogden provided him with skills that later unlocked the key passage on Pakistan's Trango Tower. Frozen Malan's Waterfall prepared him for five thousand feet of near vertical ice on his first ascent of Kwangde in Nepal.

Watching the constellation of Orion march slowly across the night sky from his first solo bivouac on the rocks of Mount Ogden at just 14 years old gave Jeff a talisman that would portend good luck on savage climbs from Peru to the Pamirs.

Techniques and tools that he and his brothers Greg and Mike devised for local challenges became the gold standard of excellence for climbers around the world. Greg introduced the first sophisticated internal frame pack in 1967, allowing climbers to carry loads with better balance and more efficiently. The basement operations eventually became Lowe Alpine Systems and with that pack design as its nucleus, eventually expanded to become a world leader in innovation and quality. Later came cam nuts and modular ice tools, the first soft-shell clothing system from Jeff's company, Latok, and many others.

Jeff took the sport from laboriously cutting steps on slopes of ice, to dancing lightly on the front-points of crampons up vertical cold-locked cascades. From slowly engineering one's way up giant rock walls taking many days, to relying instead on free-climbing strength, skill and boldness to climb those same walls in a fraction of the time. From quasi-militaristic "assaults" by huge parties of climbers fixing ropes and stocking ever-higher camps before finally "bagging" a Himalayan summit, to simply putting a few provisions in a pack on one's back, leaving camp at the foot of the mountain and climbing to the peak and down again all in one go, leaving nothing behind.

In all these related aspects of the "alpine-style" revolution, Jeff Lowe was a pioneer who led the way. The whole goal was to accomplish the most inspired climbs with the least equipment, firm in the knowledge that the ensuing experiences would lead to greater levels of self-awareness.

Fourth among eight children born to Ralph Lowe and Elgene Siefertson Lowe, Jeff took naturally to his father's code of self-reliance and self-responsibility.

A subtle yet significant environmental message is expressed in the film. As an alpine style climber, Jeff was committed to a purist ethic of climbing that involved an elegant unclimbed route - on a small crag, big rock wall, icefall, couloir or Alpine or Himalayan mountain face - on sight and solo.

With an attitude of total responsibility for his own safety and impact on the environment, Jeff's countless achievements, gear innovations, instructional materials and climbing legacy are proof that uncompromising personal standards are no hindrance to success. Doing less with more is applicable to much of daily life, one of many lessons Jeff brought back from the mountain top.

But Lowe's was not a career of marching only from one peak to the next. There were plenty of hard times in the valleys, too, for society isn't set up in ways that automatically reward the alpine vagabond, no matter his or her brilliance. Nor are traditional relationships with family, friends, marriage partners and children easy to balance when the siren call of the heights is ever-present in the ear and separations of weeks and months are common.

In the early 1990's Jeff's life had become complicated and stressful almost beyond his ability to cope. He was dealing with one climbing business that had failed, another that was demanding more and more resources to stay afloat, a two-year-old daughter that he was churning inside for neglecting, and a new affair with a famous French woman climber that had precipitated divorce proceedings.

Facing this mountain of trouble, Jeff turned to what he knew best: climbing. He chose the most difficult unclimbed route he could find on one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. He went alone in winter, right up the middle of the most notorious mountain face in the Alps, the 6,000' high North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland. During the climb, Jeff faced conditions that it seemed no human could survive.

On his historic and epic Eiger climb, Jeff found himself harking back to lessons learned as a boy, when confronted with some potentially lethal crux. He held one-sided conversations with some of the ghosts of past Eiger tragedies. Each night as he hung in his little bivouac tent he gazed by headlamp at a sacred picture of his baby girl, and contemplated his love for her, and what he could do to be present for her in the future.

High up, trapped a day below the summit in a little limestone grotto by a fierce storm, Jeff hears a strange, deeply resonant sound. After hours of questioning the source, he finally concludes it is his own vibration, being amplified by the great concave rock wall and broadcast to the universe. Jeff sits there, then, in a state of satori. For moments or perhaps hours, Jeff experiences life beyond time and space and gets a glimpse of a greater reality and his own place in it.

When he finds himself once again aware of the spindrift rushing past the opening of his hermit cave, his world-view has shifted and he is calm in the face of the financial and emotional challenges that he knows will still be his when he completes this climb. Most important he sees a path ahead with his daughter that will eventually leave her with an unquestioned base of love and support from her father. It's all good, in a way, but he's out of food, wet and chilled to the bone, and there is still nearly 1,000 feet of difficult climbing to go.

Nine harrowing days after he started, Jeff completed what is now considered the most formidable route on the Eiger. He named his route Metanoia – a transformative change of heart. His priorities shifted, his purpose clarified, he was anxious to return to his baby girl and fulfill his commitment to her. Yet another storm was fast approaching, so Jeff was whisked off the summit by a helicopter, leaving his pack secured in the ice, high up on the Eiger.

explores Jeff's life as a climber, husband, father, entrepreneur and now grandfather. He lived life Alpine-Style, close to the edge, traveling light, trying to extract the most from each experience. Now Jeff brings his lessons from the mountains home to Ogden, Utah as he negotiates old terrain in new ways, with disabilities he could never have imagined. A transformative change of heart that takes place on the Eiger infuses his life with acceptance, peace and joy.

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