Entity Type:
Tasker, Joe (1948-1982)
Joe Tasker tried many ‘careers’ before becoming a climber. Starting off as a Jesuit seminarian, he was at various times, a dustbinman, quarryman, and sociologist before he finally plumped for a life of alpine adventure. Tasker followed a prolonged alpine apprenticeship, often climbing with Dick Renshaw, specialising in insecure mixed faces. Together they made the long awaited first British winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1976 and followed it up with an audacious two-person ascent of the highly technical Dunagiri in the Indian Himalaya, travelling all the way to their destination in a tatty £170 Escort van. Tasker teamed up with Pete Boardman shortly afterwards to push the standards of technical rock climbing at altitude on Changabang in the Indian Garhwal and thence entered the spiral of constant expeditioning. Boardman became famous in 1975 when he summited Everest as only the third Briton. Despite this success, Boardman felt he still had to prove something to his peers and launched himself at the distinctly futuristic West Wall of Changabang with Tasker the following year. The big differences in personality (Boardman the diffident, well spoken English Lit graduate, Tasker the intense abrasive craftsman), did not prevent the partnership becoming triumphant and the pattern was set for a whole series of expeditions to the high places of the earth, including K2, Kangchenjunga, and Mt Kongur in China. The pace was hectic and the risks high. In 1982 the pair disappeared attempting the highly technical NE Ridge of Everest. In addition to their climbs, the pair left a legacy of extremely influential books which showcased an exceptional literary ability to match their mountaineering prowess. Appropriately, the annual Boardman/Tasker Prize for Mountaineering Literature is named in their honour.
Standout climbs: Tasker: 1st British ascents of North Face of Dent Blanche; Bonatti-Gobbi Route, Eckpfeiler Buttress, Mont Blanc; East Face of the Grandes Jorasses; 1st British winter ascent of Eiger, South Face Dunagiri, Indian Garhwal (all with Dick Renshaw).
Boardman: 1st ascent North Face, Koh-I-Khaiik, & Koh-I-Mondi (Hindu Kush); 1st ascent Mt Dan Beard (Alaska), 3rd British ascent of Everest; West Ridge of Gauri Sankar.
Tasker/Boardman: West Wall of Changabang (Indian Himalaya), North Ridge of Kangchenjunga (alpine-style with Scott & Bettembourg), 1st ascent Mount Kongur (China – with Bonington & Rouse).
Further reading:The Boardman-Tasker Omnibus, Joe Tasker, Hodder & Stoughton 1996.

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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