I debated on whether or not writing something about a man I didn’t really know all that well was a good idea. But then I got to thinking, I did know Joe Szot. I knew him through The Bivy, his gift — or a hostel if you must — to ice climbers so they could rest their heads for an evening for only five dollars. I knew Joe through the wide open door of his home. I knew him through Drew, through Rob, through Mike and through countless others I met at The Bivy and went climbing with. I knew Joe through the incredible people he introduced me to. I knew Joe through long nights talking over shared whiskey and through drying my gear above the wood stove for a fresh start in the morning. I knew Joe over food amongst good friends. I knew Joe enough to know he was an incredible person and that what he has done for the region will never be forgotten.
His personality transcended through in his climbing ability, establishing many hard routes in the Adirondacks and the Northeast. Don Mellor writes in the introduction to his Adirondack ice climbing guidebook, Blue Lines: “Only Szot has a resume to rival Yandon’s. Strong and bubbling with enthusiasium, Joe pulled off many of the hardest leads yet done in the Adirondacks, routes like Premature Birth, Midlife Crisis, and Dark Lord at Poke-O.”
Anyone who met Joe or stayed at The Bivy, will forever be a part of his story. The king of rollies died yesterday while climbing with climbing friend, Brian Bellett in the Gunks. He felt faint for part of the day, but was still able to climb. On his last route he made it through the crux, clipped his gear and asked to be lowered. Despite best efforts, he passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 51 on March 14th 2012. R.I.P. Joe Szot. Our thoughts are with Aya and Dan. (more info from Brian in the comment below)