Seeking Memories of Jim Baldwin

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Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 18, 2009 - 09:52pm PT
Dear Climbers,

I am the girlfriend of a wonderful man and climber by the name of James Baldwin. He is the nephew of the late Jim Baldwin.

A month ago I started on a quest for a certain climbing guide to The Squamish Chief that I understood was written by Jim many years ago. Neither James nor his dad had any details about this guide except that it was out there...somewhere.

My search started with an email to Ed Cooper and yielded wonderful conversations with Jim Sinclair, Anders Ourom and a meeting with Glenn Woodsworth. It turns out, thanks to this close knit climbing community, that my quest was a short one. I was able to get my hands on copies of the guide this past week. I have to give thanks to all four men for making the necessary connections that put a copy of that guide in my hands so quickly. My plan now is to give it to James for Christmas and to relay all the wonderful conversations I've had along the way.

I understand that several people who once knew and climbed with Jim now chat on this forum. If anyone is willing to share anecdotes or stories about him, I would love to pass your reminiscences on to James, his dad and his two uncles (Jim's three brothers). Please feel free to post here or if you'd rather, you can write to me at peressini@gmail.com.

Many thanks and warm wishes to all for a wonderful Christmas.

Christina Peressini
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Dec 18, 2009 - 10:30pm PT
Hello Christina,

Welcome to SuperTopo.

Jim climbed the first ascent of the Dihedral Wall on El Cap in 1962 with Ed Cooper and Glen Denny. Maybe there are folks here here who can introduce you to Glen Denny. Please send me an e-mail at the link on my name, and I will send you Steve Roper's e-mail address. Steve climbed with Jim in the Valley.

Best regards, Roger
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 19, 2009 - 12:39am PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#138755
photo not found
Missing photo ID#138756
photo not found
Missing photo ID#138757
The plaque is on a ledge just above the Apron at Squamish, and was placed by Jim's friends in the Cacodemon Climbing Club in 1965.

Posters and lurkers who knew Jim include Guido (Joe), Hamie, Royal, and Tricouni. Hopefully they can help Christina with her quest, and let their friends know about this.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Dec 19, 2009 - 12:50am PT
Thanks Anders,

Hi Christina,

Maybe my cousins could give some more information about Jim Baldwin and his influence in Squamish. I know there is probably some historical detritus about early Squamish climbing in a box in a garage with them somewhere.

Just click on my ST name to email.

Jim
Melissa

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Dec 19, 2009 - 01:24am PT
Surely you're aware of this. But just in case...I really loved it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_3LN_xbVqc

purchase link: http://www.fringefilmworks.com/

Others who knew him and were there can speak more to the authenticity of its commentary, but the footage/photos are clearly original.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Dec 19, 2009 - 01:34am PT
I thought I recalled seeing a pic of Jim on Dihedral...

On Glen Denny's website there is a shot of him...

http://www.glendenny.com/images_001_012.html

Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Dec 19, 2009 - 01:35am PT
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 19, 2009 - 01:38am PT
Christina and James have seen "In the Shadow of the Chief", and also the poignant stories about Jim Baldwin in Roper's "Camp 4". Given Jim's climbing in Yosemite, and knowing that several of his friends post and/or lurk here, SuperTopo seemed a likely place to find them. Hopefully we can find other friends, stories, photos and documents for James and his family.

James is something of a climber, and we hope to take him and Christina to the Baldwin plaque in the spring.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 19, 2009 - 07:59am PT
I'm glad to see this thread. These are the first photo's I've ever seen of Jim Baldwin.

I arrived in Yosemite the summer after Jim's accident while the memory was still fresh in everyone's mind. It was the first fatality of a climber who was known to all the others and well liked, so it left a huge impression.

I remember climbing the main 5.7 route on Washington's Column with a group led by Chuck Ostin and descending in the dark knowing that was near where Jim had died. Definitely a sobering experience.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 19, 2009 - 12:01pm PT
There are many good photos of Jim Baldwin, the first ascent of the Grand Wall at Squamish in 1961, and the first ascent of Dihedral Wall in 1962, on Ed Cooper's website - see http://www.edcooper.com. They're in various places on the site, but mainly at the tab "Mountains 1".
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
Dec 19, 2009 - 12:22pm PT
from Ed Cooper's Mountain 3 Gallery

G-ram

Trad climber
revelstoke
Dec 19, 2009 - 04:31pm PT
Bump. I want more Jim stories. My friends dad was a hard squamish climber in the mid/late 60's and talking to him, it's clear that Jim had a big influence and was a great story teller to climbers of the era.
Tami

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Dec 19, 2009 - 08:33pm PT
G- ram - Who is your friend's dad ??? If you share the name there might be some postings.

Or start a new thread !!! This is one dedicated to the memory of Jim Baldwin.

Despite being from the community of Squish, I can't add to JBbaldwin's but post-GrandWall stories that came from others. But I am super-glad that Baldwin/Cooper did the FA of Grand and it always was a sad story to hear that Baldwin's life was cut short.........
John Morton

climber
Dec 20, 2009 - 12:17am PT
I was only a casual acquaintance of Jim Baldwin, but I climbed a pitch with him once under amusing circumstances. Steve Thompson and I were in Camp 4, 1964 I guess, probably an idle Sunday morning. Roper and Baldwin were in camp also. Roper liked to taunt slackers who didn't earn their keep by climbing every day, and proposed that we stage a nailing race on a pitch in the slabs behind the campground.

We hiked up and found two aid cracks, similar and parallel. I was to belay Baldwin, while Thompson seconded Roper. This was egregiously unfair, as Roper was famously fast, and I knew Thompson to be very efficient also. For some reason I had no hammer that day, I don't remember why. So Roper lent me a spare, a cheap Chinese claw hammer with one claw busted off (this was a popular practice about that time).

Roper topped out and Thompson was well along when I started cleaning Baldwin's pitch. I soon realized the hammer head was eroded into an irregular blob, causing it to glance off unless it was perfectly centered on the target. Which it almost never was, and my knuckles were a bloody mess at the end. Humiliation notwithstanding, I felt fortunate to be next to these heroes for awhile.

John

Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 20, 2009 - 01:34am PT
I will ask Don Gordon if he remembers some good stuff about Jim Baldwin. I'm pretty sure he climbed with Jim and I'm sure he would love to share his memories. I'll probably know something in a couple of days and I will send you an email and post here also. Good luck in your search!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Dec 20, 2009 - 03:05am PT
hey there mighty walker... (cristina, if i spelled this right) here is a bump....



say jan, thanks for the history note:
I arrived in Yosemite the summer after Jim's accident while the memory was still fresh in everyone's mind. It was the first fatality of a climber who was known to all the others and well liked, so it left a huge impression.

i had never learned of jim baldwin, this wonderful part of yosemite... and now am very sad to learn of his accident... may many stories of his life show up here, i would like to know more of who he was...

the picture are very special, thank you for sharing these...

god bless to cristina in her quest...
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 20, 2009 - 01:19pm PT
Wow, everyone, thank you so much for the photos, stories and private emails to my gmail account. It's wonderful that this community of climbers is still close all these decades later.

I know these conversations will make a wonderful gift for James this Christmas ... hopefully anyone on this forum who knows him or the other members of the Baldwin family will remain mum until after the holidays. :)

Keep the wonderful stories and photos coming. And thank you again to all who have shared thus far and been in touch with me.

Christina
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Dec 20, 2009 - 06:08pm PT
Christina


Seeing the photo that Mighty Hiker posted on the plaque placed at Squamish brought tears to my eyes and sent me on a spiral of memories and moods from a very long time ago.

Baldwin was a lovely man and one of my favourite characters of the early 60s. He had a deep and rolling laughter, especially triggered when Roper would bait him with talks of chicks and wild times. The two were hilarious together when they got on a roll. Baldwin and Cooper took a lot of crap from the locals with their style of ascent on the Dihedral but the general mood in the Valley was not so negative and more respective. Christ it was only the third new route on El Cap. Considering the level of gear, difficulty and especially the unknown, I always considered it a bold adventure. Being from the "north" and therefore "outsiders" certainly was a factor in local jealousy and territorial imperative. The addition of Denny may have smoothed over some of the local animosity, but who knows?

Jim and I had done some easy Valley routes together and even a first ascent the whereabouts I have no idea. In late June 1964, I was in the Valley for a couple of weeks and looking forward to a short but fun season since I was working construction for the summer and playing with concrete and jackhammers to pass the time.I hadn't seen Jim for quite some time and heard he and John Evans were up on the East Face of the Column. Evans showed up late in Camp 4 and told a stunned group of us of the accident and we agreed to wait until morning for the recovery. Sacherer, Herbert and myself were the first to discover Jim at the base of the Column. He was lying on his back and appeared to be a resting peacefully . Herbert was uniquely silent and Sacherer was his usual quiet self. For myself, it was my first experience with the death of a friend and I experienced a profound sadness that lasted for weeks. I quit climbing that day and it was two years before I got seriously back into it.


Joe McKeown


Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 20, 2009 - 06:21pm PT
Interestingly, when Jim's death was talked about among climbers, Frank Sacherer never mentioned even to his wife that he was one of those who found Jim after the accident. In retrospect I wonder how much this accident was influential in Frank becoming less interested in climbing about that time?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 21, 2009 - 03:07am PT
JAMES BALDWIN
1938 - 1964
It was with shock and disbelief that Jimís many friends learned of his death this spring. He was killed while rappelling in the dark on the east face of Washington Column in Yosemite Valley. No one will ever know exactly what happened. ďI canít believe he is gone . .Ē was typical of the comments most frequently heard in the Valley in the days and weeks that followed. Even now, there is an empty feeling in those of us privileged to know Jim.

While he was not a member of the American Alpine Club, it was only his personal modesty that had kept him from it, as he was qualified many times over, being in the top ranks of modern climbers. Jim was completely unpretentious and universally liked. That he was not a member of the Club was perhaps an oversight on our part, and an exception has been made to include this memorial to him.

I first met him skiing in British Columbia and can still remember the sparkle in his eyes when talking of climbing. Jim was as devoted to the sport as a person could be. Upon meeting new mountaineers, the subject would invariably be climbing, and as often as not, a climb would shortly be arranged. Jimís pioneering climbs in the Vancouver area and his important achievements in Yosemite Valley are well known. With Jim I shared tense moments, bivouacs, chocolate bars, discouragements, and victories. Best of all, I remember the good fellowship with Jim over a beer after a climb had been completed or the next one was being contemplated.

We shall miss you, Jim.

EDWARD COOPER
Jim Baldwin's obituary, from the 1965 American Alpine Journal.
http://www.americanalpineclub.org/documents/pdf/aaj/1965/397_InMemoriam_aaj1965.pdf#search="james baldwin"
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