(by Bob Norton, from IMC Newsletter Summer 2011)
"I feel honoured to have known this indomitable man"
Out of many happy days spent in the mountains with Joss, I have three particular favourite recollections.
Firstly, from the early eighties, him striding down out of the mist into Wasdale in the Lake District at the head of his flock, (an AFAS group, I think), white hair blowing in the wind, brandishing one walking pole, like an Old Testament prophet.
A year or two later, when I knew him better, when, on a beautiful summer day in Luggala, with wind shadows chasing each other across the lake surface, we did his classic route Pine Tree Buttress, followed by the Clingon / Claidheamh Solais combination. Amazingly, it was just before his bypass operation and though he tired easily we shared leads. I think we had the crag to ourselves, and his delight in the climbing and the situations was great to see.
In 1988, when he was sixty-four, I was privileged to accompany him and Mike Banks on the North/South traverse of the Barre des Écrins, which he had ”had his eye on” for a number of years. It became a seventeen-hour day, finishing in driving rain. We had the unusual experience on the summit, of exchanging shouted greetings with the pilot of a passing glider! Even after such a long day, he was well able for crossing the Col the following day for the long hike back to La Bérarde.
I feel honoured to have known this indomitable man. Go deimhin, ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.