Legendary British rock climber and mountaineer Joe Brown has died at age 89. He passed away peacefully at his home in Llanberis. His accomplishments helped push the limits of technical gritstone climbing and high altitude expeditions.

Brown was born in Manchester in 1930 and began climbing as a youth. He started his working life as an apprentice in the building trade and climbed with friends in his spare time. He was appointed an MBE and, in 2011, a CBE, for services to rock climbing and mountaineering.

In 1951, Brown added two difficult routes to Dinas Cromlech with Cemetery Gates with Don Whillans and the following year with Cenotaph Corner with Doug Belshaw. Over in the next decade, he made the first ascents of a number of now-classic lines in the Peak District, such as Unconquerables, Elder Crack and Great Slab.

Brown helped create new types of protection, including some of the first nuts by drilling a thread out of engineering nuts and threading the centre with a sling. The Post Office once delivered a letter to him simply addressed “The Human Fly, UK”. In 1966, he opened a climbing shop called Joe Brown shops.

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It is with profound sadness that we have to share with you the passing of Joe Brown. He left us peacefully at 10pm last night. He was at home with his family. We have been in contact with his wife Val this morning to pass on our love and condolences and will share more information in line with his families wishes. In our hearts, Joe will continue to climb evermore. Joe Brown 1930 – 2020

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In 1955, he made the first ascent of the world’s third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga in the Nepalese Himalaya, with George Band. In 1956 he made the first ascent of the west summit of the Muztagh Tower in the Karakoram with Ian McNaught-Davis.

Brown is remembered for his many televised rock climbs in the 1960s, three in Snowdonia, and in 1967, a new route on the Old Man of Hoy, a Scottish sea stack, with Ian McNaught-Davis and Chris Bonington. Fifteen years later Brown repeated the climb on the Old Man on a television documentary with his second daughter Zoe.

Already a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Brown was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to rock climbing and mountaineering.

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Joe Brown became so famous in the 1960s that the post office would deliver letters to him simply addressed as ‘The Human Fly, UK.’ The world knew where to find him after a series of high-profile ascents in the Alps and Himalayas as well as a number of classic rock climbs in the UK. He was the first to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga in Nepal, the world’s third highest mountain, with fellow mountaineer George Band in 1955. He made a series of live televised climbs, including the Old Man of Hoy with fellow mountaineers Chris Bonington and Ian McNaught-Davis in 1967. Brown joined the Valkyrie Climbing Club and was a founder member of the Rock and Ice Climbing Club. In 1956, Brown and McNaught-Davis made the first ascent of the west summit of the Muztagh Tower. A constant innovator, Brown designed a range of climbing gear and safety equipment, including new metal wedges or ‘nuts’ with slings. He opened his first Joe Brown climbing shop in 1966. #legend #climbing #history #tradisrad

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His death prompted widespread tributes. On Twitter, Stephen Venables said: “Very sad to hear that Joe Brown died last night. What an amazing life. Kangchenjunga, Muztagh Tower, treasure hunting in the jungle … but for most of us his greatest gift is the legacy of peerless rock climbs: Vector, Vember, Right Unconquerable, Shrike, Cemetery Gates…”

The Mountain Heritage Trust said: “We are deeply saddened to learn that Joe Brown has passed away. A legend and inspiration to so many, we are proud to have had him as a patron.”

Alan Hinkes added: “RIP Joe Brown, great rock-climber, mountaineer, fly fisherman, raconteur, lovely man. Hard as nails. Wicked sense of humour. Poss world’s greatest rock-climber & superb mountaineer. Thoughts with family & grandchildren.”

Watch a film of Brown climbing Cemetery Gates with the late Don Whillans below. Our condolences to Brown’s friends and family.

Don Whillans’ Last Climb