Anker “a badass and a heck of a good guy”
By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
BOZEMAN – In an online feature, “The Best Athletes Right Now,” Esquire magazine ranked Bozeman alpinist Conrad Anker among the world’s top athletes. The magazine used a mathematical equation that took into account athletic accomplishments, fame, income, scandal and charitable causes.
Anker, 49, came in below big names like Tiger Woods (#5), LeBron James (#3) and Swiss tennis star Roger Federer (#1), and above Lindsey Vonn (#15), Kobe Bryant (#13), Serena Williams (#18), Michael Phelps #22, and Shawn White (#33).
“If you haven’t heard of Conrad Anker, you should have,” wrote Garth Sundem, the article’s author. “He’s a badass and a heck of a good guy.”
Anker recently led a major U.S. expedition to Everest, where he summited without supplemental oxygen, and was the climber who found George Mallory’s body in 1999. He’s also vice president and director of Khumbu Climbing Center, which teaches Nepali high altitude workers safe climbing techniques; a leader in the effort to build an ice climbing tower/concert venue in Bozeman; on the board at the MSU Leadership Institute,;and an outspoken voice for climate change.
“Though he can’t compete with the renown of a LeBron, his ratio of good fame to bad fame lines up just right,” Sundem wrote.
Until he saw the story online in late August, Anker had no idea it was coming.
“No one even approached me or talked to me about it,” he said. Anker wasn’t quite sure what to think about the list and had some humor about his inclusion in it.
Born in California, Anker has lived in Bozeman for 11 years. He’s married to the prominent local artist, Jennifer Lowe.
Explore Big Sky sports columnist Brandon Niles thinks the ranking system is an interesting idea, and important for athletes that don’t receive national attention outside of their particular sport.
“It’s always a debate when people evaluate and try to define what “greatest” means in regard to sports,” Niles said. “It’s interesting that fame is such a large factor for them, but I tend to agree that it matters. Jordan was the greatest in part because he transcended his sport.”
Anker, in classic Bozeman style, keeps a relatively low profile while working his tail off to climb hard and do good in the world.