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Joe Brown CBE 31/12/2010

Joe Brown has been appointed a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2011 New Year Honours list for his services to rock climbing and mountaineering.

Born in Manchester to a working-class family, Joe Brown became arguably the best known climber of his generation. Joe and his cohorts were considered responsible for breaking down the sport's image as the preserve of the 'better-off'. During the post-war years they heralded a new wave of exploration on Britain's cliffs and raised standards of technical difficulty.

Joe had a visionary eye for new climbs and is responsible for making the first ascents of some of the UK's most famous and highly sought-after rock climbs, such as Cenotaph Corner in the Llanberis Pass. His name is synonymous with the imposing cliff of Clogwyn Du'r Arddu on Snowdon and gritstone crack climbing test-pieces in the Peak District.

Not only was Joe at the cutting edge of rock climbing in the fifties and sixties but he was also an accomplished alpinist and mountaineer. His 1955 first ascent with George Band of the notoriously difficult Kanchenjunga, the worlds third highest mountain, made him only one of two Britons to have made the first ascent of an 8000 metre peak.

Joe moved to Snowdonia in the sixties and together with his wife Val he set up Joe Brown outdoor shop on Llanberis High Street in 1966. Although he's no longer involved with the business it still proudly bears his name. Last September he turned eighty and until a few years ago was still leading rock climbs graded Extremely Severe.

In an interview for Climb magazine last year, the journalist Ed Douglas, wrote: "There will never be anyone like Joe Brown in British climbing again. The unique combination of his nature and era canít be replicated. But what he accomplished - and how he lived - will continue to shape our ideas about the climbing life far into the future."

You can download a bio of Joe Brown and the full interview here.

Photo: Joe Brown shortly before his eightieth birthday standing below Dinas Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass, scene of one of his most famous first ascents, Cenotaph Corner, in 1952. © Ray Wood

Topic: Joe Brown, CBE, 2011 New Year Honours.†

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