Death of mountaineer Joss Lynam

Mon, Jan 10, 2011, 00:00

RENOWNED IRISH and international mountaineer Joss Lynam has died in his late 80s in a Dublin hospital after a short illness.

“One of the most significant people in Irish mountaineering,” was how Frank Nugent, climber and chair of the Irish Upland Forum, described Mr Lynam last night.

“He was simply irreplaceable, and one of the few Irish climbers to be known internationally,” said Mr Nugent.

The Dublin-based engineer was a founding member of the Irish Mountaineering Club, and was involved in the development of the Association for Adventure Sports, which he chaired.

He participated in his first international climbing expedition to India in the 1940s, and described many years afterwards how much of his technique was self-taught. At one point, he slipped away from base camp with a book to learn how to cut steps on ice.

“How we survived, I don’t know,” he observed later. “It was the first real mountain that any of us had ever seen.”

He travelled to the Alps, and among others, he climbed the 6,526 metre Shigri Parbat Himalayan peak in the 1950s. He was deputy leader on the Irish expedition to Rakaposhi in 1964, led by Paddy O’Leary – the first major mountaineering trip by an all-Irish group.

Mr Lynam led his sixth expedition in 1987 to the 7,500-metre Himalayan peak, Zhangzi, when he was 67 years old, and was recovering from a coronary by-pass. The group was unfortunate, as it was the worst winter on the Tibetan side of the Himalayan region in many years.

Mr Lynam was regarded as inspirational by the younger climbers who travelled with him – including Frank Nugent, who became deputy leader of the Irish Everest expedition.

Mr Lynam was one of the first to be contacted by the team when leader Dawson Stelfox, a Belfast architect, reached the 8,848-metre summit of Everest on May 27th, 1993.

At the time, Mr Lynam was in Wales, representing Ireland at a special council meeting of the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA).

He was involved in initiating of waymarked trails in Ireland, extending almost 2,000 miles on over 30 routes. He mediated in many disputes between farmers and walkers over access.

He and his wife Nora and children were also keen orienteers. He is author of a number of books and edited Irish Mountain Log for many years.