Farewell to Joe Brown

  • One of the very best of us died this morning.

    Joe Brown was the real deal.


  • Condolences to his friends and family. It is always a loss. The world is richer for him.

  • I never had the pleasure of meeting Joe, but during the two times English climber, photographer, writer, & story-teller, John Cleare visited remote Moscow, Idaho in the mid-1970's, he shared stories of first-person adventures with Joe, & other British rock-climbing legends. Happily, on John's, Royal Robbins' sponsored slide show tours of western America, he found his Idaho hosts friendly & fun. I think he spent 2 nights on my couch on his first tour, & 3 nights there on the next tour, a year later.

    He was like a time-machine back to 50's & 60's British climbing stories, of course told in the proper accents. All we had to do was give him food, beer, & a receptive audience. He even mailed me two photos of our climbing day, on our local crag.

    John Cleare Granite Point.JPG

  • Joe Brown Helmet In Action.

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  • Sad to see only four posts about Joe's passing. He was as inspirational to British climbing as Royal was to American climbing, if not more so. His outstanding achievements opened the eyes of the climbing establishment, which was largely populated by professional men, and encouraged the average person to participate in the life-style.

    I had a long talk with Joe several years ago. He was charming and forthcoming about his experiences, and spoke fondly of his late mate, Don, who unfortunately ignored Joe's admonitions about his unhealthy habits. He also mildly complained about being referred to as a "plumber", when in fact he was more a contractor. His parting comment was that he was going over to another house his wife lived in to pick up his tool box!

    RIP, Joe.

  • @jgill Thank you, Mr. Gill for the remembrance. I was never fortunate enough to cross paths with the man and the poorer for it.

  • @jgill said in Farewell to Joe Brown:

    Sad to see only four posts about Joe's passing. He was as inspirational to British climbing as Royal was to American climbing, if not more so.

    And if you think that is depressing, just drop in to your local gym, or your nearby crag, and ask about people's thoughts on Joe Brown's passing. All you will likely get is blank looks and "Joe who?"

    One of the things that I found wonderful about climbing (other than the climbing itself) was its rich historical tradition. In literature, in the pub, and on the rocks and mountains, there was an interest in history, and respect for those upon whose shoulders we stood.

    Sure, there was always the drive to climb harder, but most climbers understood that harder did not mean better. That you could climb free where others had stood in aiders did not make you a better climber than them. That you could climb a peak in pure alpine style did not make you a better climber than those who had fixed ropes on that peak when you were still in diapers.

    And there are still young climbers who care about climbs done more than two years ago. I am blessed with a couple of young friends here in my remote community who are voracious readers of climbing history and who have huge respect for generations past -- despite that fact that they climb at a level we didn't even dream about when we were their age.

    But those young climbers are in a tiny minority. "Going climbing" has become just another social/physical pastime with instructors and coaches. Like going to yoga class, or spin class. For most climbers today, not only is what happened in the past not relevant; for them, there is no past. There is only the desire to finally send the purple problem in the bouldering cave at the gym.

    And maybe that's okay. For those who want what we wanted so long ago there is still an endless array of crags, walls, and peaks out there, with no crowds, no noise, and no guidebooks.

  • Bonningtons boys is a great read with a fair bit of Joe brown in it if I recall correctly.

  • I'm very sorry to read this, but thanks David. Joe Brown passing wasn't exactly featured in the popular press, and I hadn't heard about it. In one of the recent videos about Joe, he got to talking about Tom Patey, and still after all these, 50(!?), years, his vioce broke when talking about that subject. They figured prominently in my climbing mythology back in the 70s. Here's to the pair of them. I'll hoist a pint of take out imperial porter from the Burke-Gilman Brewing to them tonight.

    (hey, you heard that the West Seattle Bridge is closed!?)

  • @was-dar said in Farewell to Joe Brown:

    (hey, you heard that the West Seattle Bridge is closed!?)

    Yes, we've been following that little drama. Or Big Drama.
    All things considered, I think we got out of Seattle just in time.

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