Joe Wilson

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 Bob Bennett 18 Nov 2021

I heard the sad  news  today that  Joe had died last week . He was an Egremont lad who with a group of other locals in the 1960`s did some repeat ascents of the hardest climbs at the time including Geoff Olivers  Ichabod, on the East Buttress of Scafell in the 1970`s.

They were typical West Cumbrian lads , a day out with them was full of banter and  wit. Lacking transport, Joe and his mate Jed Cowan  walked from Egremont to Esk Buttress one day to do an early ascent of Red Edge then walked back!. During the 1966  foot and mouth outbreak, they turned their attention to the sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head. Using Phillips Redhead bolts  and oak wedges for protection , they pioneered many difficult climbs on the South head. The  bolts , were designed for concrete anchors , their length no more than 2 inches. Hangers for the bolts were manufactured from angle iron in the fitters work shops at  Sellafield. An unwritten rule during these pioneering years was that the person who placed the bolt was the first to abseil from it  Over the years , Joe spent much of his time here earning the title of Mr St Bees.

Joe`s style of climbing was immaculate, particularly his footwork. He was a great inspiration to me when I started climbing. I well remember dithering on one of his St Bees routes with Joe watching. He shouted up to me " a crack is a friend" as I struggled but eventually managed to get up  it .

Never at the forefront of publicity in that era, Joe deserves to be remembered for his contribution to West Cumbrian climbing.

In reply to Bob Bennett:

Thank you for your lovely tribute.

Climbing was my Dad’s passion it took him all over the world, meeting many fantastic people. 
Quite simply a legend and an inspiration.

Alan Wilson 

 Bob Bennett 20 Nov 2021
In reply to awsomal:

He was an inspiration to me Alan, and I suspect a lot of other Cumbrian climbers at the time

 chris m fisher 20 Nov 2021
In reply to Bob Bennett:

A sad loss. I remember fondly listening to Joe’s tales of his early St Bees exploits. Often entire evening sessions ‘down the head’ would be taken up by Joe enthralling us with his tales…. A great climber, storyteller and a true legend!

Thoughts with his family.

In reply to awsomal:

Tribute to your father Al from another Cumberland. Have read the stuff and seen the photos. Top man. He was not FRCC (same Rossy) but he got mentioned nevertheless a couple of weeks back. I am FRCC but feel like resigning, except friends tell me it is better to stay a member as a local. I can see why some indigenous aborigines don't enjoy the FRCC experience.


 marky 21 Nov 2021
In reply to Bob Bennett: So sorry to hear this sad news. Joe and Al are legends and great characters of The Lakes. I remember travelling all the way to The States and the first people we bumped into at The Buttermilk boulders were Al and Joe. Rest In Peace Joe.

In reply to Bob Bennett:

Sorry to hear the news. The Egremont lads took me under their wing when I was between school and Uni and in early days at Uni (possibly because I had transport!). I bumped into Brian Smith a couple of years ago at my Mum's wake. Is Joe's brother Brian still around? He introduced me to ferreting. 

 Bob Bennett 08:36 Sat
In reply to harold walmsley:

Afraid not Harold, he had been troubled with heart problems for some time and I learnt at the funeral yesterday that he had died a couple of years back

In reply to Bob Bennett:

Sorry to hear that as well.

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