Ardwick climber 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 also made a series of live televised climbs, including the Old Man of Hoy with fellow mountaineers Chris Bonington and Ian McNaught-Davis in 1967.
Born in September 1930, Brown was the seventh and youngest child of his family. He started climbing at camp sites at the age of 12, using discarded clothes lines for ropes.
While he was working as an apprentice plumber and general builder, Brown joined the Valkyrie Climbing Club and was a founder member of the Rock and Ice Climbing Club.
One of his early climbing partners was Salford mountaineer Don Whillans, who was also working as an apprentice plumber at the time.
The two met while climbing at the Roaches, a rocky ridge in Staffordshire, in 1951.
When Brown’s partner failed to follow him up a new route, Whillans stepped in and led the second pitch. The new route became known as ‘Matinee’.
The British Mountaineering Council have set up a climbing hut in the Roaches in memory of Whillans.
In 1956, Brown and McNaught-Davis made the first ascent of the west summit of the Muztagh Tower in the Karakoram, the mountain range spanning the borders of Pakistan, India and China.
In spite of making many challenging ascents, Brown’s earliest mishap wasn’t on a mountain at all. It happened when he was serving in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps from 1949-50.
There was a melee round the tea urn and Brown broke his leg in three places!
Brown pioneered many new routes in Snowdonia and the Peak District that were renowned for their difficulty.
This was reflected in the names the routes were given. There was ‘Cenotaph Corner’ on Dinas Cromlech as well as ‘Cemetery Gates.’
Thanks to his climbing passion and expertise, Brown was involved in a number of films. These included Five Days One Summer, Hazard and Upsidedown Wales.
He married climbing enthusiast Valerie Melville Gray in 1957. They had two daughters, Helen and Zoe.
After making a televised climb of the Old Man of Hoy with her father, Zoe became a presenter on the children’s TV show Razzamatazz.
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 and now has three shops in Snowdonia.
Brown was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011 for services to rock-climbing and mountaineering.