Lou Costello RIP

When I was posted to North Wales one of the real characters I met who was an ex troop at RAF Valley Mountain Rescue Team. Lou was one of them, we met often and had a huge Mountaineering CV. He climbed with many of the “Old and Bold” a very quiet generous man. He looked after me in my early days at Valley and we climbed a few times once on Cloggy he was so cool and laid back and had climbed with many of the greats of his generation. That’s was many years ago in the late 70’s . Over the years he has been a mentor to many team members. He loved Gogarth and introduce many to it. He made so much of his own gear and was a great inventor of kit. My pal Graham Stamp has written this and has allowed me to use it to tell many of Lou’s pals the sad news .

From Graham Stamp a great pal – Hi Troops. Sad news I’m afraid. Great friend and climbing buddy Lou Costello sadly passed away this morning. A great friend of the Valley Team over decades, many of the troops that new him would remember what a character he was. Lou was always keen to pass on his vast knowledge on the crags of North Wales especially Gogarth and climbing a route with him would always involve fascinating stories of epics he had been on. I remember climbing Mousetrap at South Stack with him, himself leading the crux displaying the boldness and coolness required to accomplish such a route. I’ve many stories of climbing with Lou and trips to the alps (Hirondelles ridge on the Grand Jorasses we also did together) as I’m sure many of you that also climbed with him have as well but above all will remember what great company he was in the mountains and on the crag. He will be missed.

Lou on left at Hornlie hut Matterhorn photo P .McGowan

Comments welcome

Mark Hartree – Sad sad news. Very sorry to hear this although I did wonder if he had already passed on to the big crag in the sky. As an 18yr old fool, I climbed my first routes on Gogarth and Cloggy with Lou who seemed to be a font of climbing knowledge. He pointed out to me that I should put some gear in. On Slanting Gully on Llewidd one re-union we only just made it to the meal after abbing off in the rain. He taught me that once you make a decision on the hill, stick to it and do not bottle out and reverse your choice. That way, you will learn mountaineering judgement. Best Wishes to his family and all who knew him. 2ba

Bob Tomlin – Really sad to hear about the loss of Lou, RIP. Lou was one of the guys who (as a newbie to Valley) made you feel instantly at home, welcome and was a huge part of the Valley experience, often nipping in to the section and coming out on weekends and sharing stories. He was there on my earliest days on the hill and seemingly as happy doing any aspect of mountaineering, be it escorting his blind friend around the Snowdon horseshoe, taking part in or supporting expeditions or climbing either on technical pieces or in Chossy traditional gullies. Will be sadly missed. Raising a glass tonight.

Ted Rodgers – Lou was one of a kind and lived a colourful life with lots of adventures.He nearly came to Changabang with us and I still have the duvet bootees he made me for the trip.One of many characters who enriched my climbing world.

Paul Jiggins – Desperately sad news… I’ll have a drink for him tonight, I remember he liked his whisky. I remember some happy times with him on various crags…. especially South Stack. Just having a read of the Gogarth guide book and a small dram. One of Lou’s favourite routes… Mousetrap… rip olde friend 😢

Gogarth Guide book photo P. Jiggins

Pete Kirkpatrick – Ex Team Leader Valley MRT – Just learnt of Lou’s passing. Now reading people’s memories of him, I recall his support of the Valley team in my time, that was deep rooted, genuine and giving in so many ways. I’m now regretting not having any ‘hill or rock’ time with Lou. I do recall vividly though Lou, along with Jack Baines (At different times.) been very welcome regular brew drinkers to the MR section at Valley. The past linking to present troops like a blood line. Farewell Lou.

Nigel Hughes – Lou popped into the section, probably on a monthly basis, for a brew and a natter to the troops therein. I knew his face, but not much else; except he was a skinny guy who rode a Norton Commando. In Apr ’82 he turned up at Holyhead Mountain where the troops climbed most Weds evenings and we did our first route together. Lou seemed to know every route. No, Lou DID know every route and enthusiastically relayed stories in answer to my curiosity. A couple of months later Lou accompanied me and Jock Pirrie up into Ogwen to climb Manx Wall. As we passed various crags, more tales of past endeavour were sprinkled on us; he was genuinely an interesting guy with no arrogance who loved his hills. Lou was an outstanding climber who put up many first ascents in the late ’60s/early ’70s. He loved Gogarth and also introduced the troops to Rhoscolyn way before it gained wider popularity. We all climbed Bagger’s Crack in honour of Lou, who made the first ascent back in 1970. He also had first ascents of many others, notably Cocaine and El Dorado; often climbing with his buddy Dave Durkin. And if anyone has done or in future ever attempts Truant Right Hand, you’ll appreciate how good Lou was; especially considering the era these first ascents were realised. My last route with Lou was Fallen Block Crack in 1988. As we roped up he asked if I had any large gear on my harness. ‘Not really’ I replied, ‘Then you’ll need this’ and handed me a No10 Hex. ‘Put it in about fifteen feet from the top’ and it’ll protect the crux’. Well I climbed up and sure enough, 15ft from the top is where I put his Hex. Sums him up perfectly.

Ah so sad! Brilliant guy. Had the pleasure of climbing a route with him in a less well travelled area on Holy Island whilst I was based at Valley. He was expanding my area knowledge. Must’ve been about 2014. It had sections of traversing and was about VS (the route was his choice) and I recall that he was struggling to bend one of his legs due to a problem with his knee! No issues on the route and almost anyone else his age would not be going anywhere near a sea cliff face! Great guy. Had several enjoyable meet ups having a brew with him and the guys who organised the reunion. Lee Wales

My thoughts are with Lou’s family and friends . Great things happen when men and mountains meet.

Anyone got photos of Lou on the hill or climbing ?

Lou Gogarth photo Ray Shafren
Lou Gogarth
Lou – photo Ray Shafren
Lou Black Ladders photo Ray Shafron.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Rock Climbing, Views Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lou Costello RIP

  1. Alistair Read says:

    Very sad news. Last route I did with Lou was Dream of White Horses on a cold but sunny winters day – memorable for all the right reasons. He was great fun on our Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation 1996 trip to Denali with John Evans

    Liked by 1 person

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