Born in 1930 in a Manchester slum, Joe Brown left school at fourteen to be apprenticed to a plumber. However, his exceptional climbing abilities soon became apparent and after his National Service, successful expeditions in the Alps and the Himalayas in the mid-1950s established him as a top British climber. He was employed by archaeological expeditions to open up seemingly inaccessible caves in Persia and at Petra. He worked as an instructor at an outdoor adventure school, before setting up his own climbing equipment shop at Llanberis, where he still lives. He was appointed CBE in 2011.