Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Focus On: Joe Brown

To those who haven't heard of Joe Brown he is one of the greatest British (and world) climbers and mountaineers ever. In 1955 he became the first man to the summit of Kanchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world, and has claimed over 1,000 first ascents on rock; he's also ticked off Everest among other giants.

Joe Brown in his heyday. Courtesy of the BBC

Joe Brown is now 80 and until a few years ago was regularly rock climbing across the UK - quite incredible at that age; he still takes the odd climbing trip! The reason i've been saying i'll write about him is the fact that he was recently made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to climbing and mountaineering; one of the highest honours a British person can receive. Brown was part of an amazing generation of British climbers who really set the world alight as they made first ascents across the globe, one of these climbers was Chris Bonington who I was fortunate enough to meet recently - being in the presence of people like that is amazing.

I think, being British, we've always been lucky enough to have incredible adventurers and explorers and I suppose Brown's generation were the last where such major unclimbed peaks and routes were conquered. Admittedly today's explorers and adventurers do great things but not in the old 'what the hell, i'll give it a go' style. These men did what they did out of enjoyment, not for money or press coverage and that is incredibly nobel and probably the cause of their success. I'd love to have been able to be alive when Joe Brown was at his peak - no fear of the unknown and no ulterior motives for summating a mountain. What an incredible man among an awesome set of climbers - they've taught mountaineers and climbers of today across the world an incredible amount and paved the way for the future.

Congratulations to Joe Brown on his CBE and his illustrious climbing career!

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