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 Jim’s 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. “I can’t believe he is gone . .” 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. Jim’s 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"
BBA

Social climber
West Linn OR
Dec 21, 2009 - 11:48am PT
I met Jim when he first arrived in the Valley.

Jim and Ed Cooper showed up in the early part of 1962 in Yosemite. Roper and I were living in Camp 4 and Beck may have been there, too. Jim and Cooper had done Sqaumish to great publicity and were in Yosemite to cement Cooper’s fame. They had a ton of gear in an incredibly messy car and decided on doing the mostly overhanging route on El Cap which became known as the Dihedral Wall. Cooper was instantly unlikeable, not because he was an interloper in the Valley going up on a big, new route, but because he was unlikeable. But Jim soon became a guy we enjoyed talking to and greeting with a “Hey Baldwin”, and he in reply a “Hey Amborn”. In our conversations Jim soon saw the position of many of the valley climbers and told me he didn’t exactly agree with Ed, but he was along for the ride. My family has a Canadian branch and I always got a smile out of Jim with an “Eh?”

The Dihedral climb went slowly (7-8 months?), and in the interims in the spring when they came down for re-supply we had many long afternoons by the fire in the Lodge due to rain storms blowing through, or in the bar where we would chat. As I mentioned in another thread, Roper had money and was in the bar a lot drinking Sloe Gin Fizz’s. Jim usually had a beer which he nursed for exceedingly long times. I had no money and was under age so I sat around listening. One thing Jim said I recall was directed at Roper who was telling us he was going solo up the Arrow Chimney to get Irving Smith’s hardware (No one would agree to accompany Roper). Roper goes into that story in some detail in Camp 4, but Jim said, more or less summing up our feelings, “Don’t you think that’s a little ghoulish, Roper?” I particularly liked that because it was a good use of words, but it didn’t stop Roper. Jim was also one with whom I would stand in the Lodge Gift Shop and read the comics about super heroes. Not for the literature, but they were quite entertaining and creative. Jim was a reader of books, a quiet, gentle person. During the time I lived in Camp 4 in the Valley I did not climb with Jim as I was interested in non-aid climbs and he was pretty much taken up with Cooper’s venture.

Your uncle was a fine man, and with friends like Glen Denny, Joe McKeown (Guido on Supertopo), Frank Sacherer, that says it all. Bill Amborn
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 21, 2009 - 07:56pm PT
There is a Jim Baldwin Memorial award, created in 2008. It is presented during the Squamish Mountain Festival each year, "to the climber or team of climbers who display boldness, innovation or significance in the climbing of a new route in the Squamish area".
http://www.squamishmountainfest.com/award.asp
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Dec 21, 2009 - 09:39pm PT
I can't add anything except that I hope you share your presentation of this awesome gift with us after it happens. Best...
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 23, 2009 - 07:27pm PT
There is hope for more stories about Jim Baldwin from his friends. Some naturally are cautious about posting such things on-line, and perhaps some stories should stay part of oral history. But rumour has it that there are possibilities, so I thought I'd insert a place-holder.

Plus we're all looking forward to Christina's report on her surprise for James.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 23, 2009 - 10:31pm PT
Hi Everyone,

Before I log off for a few days away from the glowing box I wanted to say thanks again for all of your contributions. I've printed out all of your posts, emails and pictures and will report back on how my surprise was received.

It may interest some to know that Howe Sound Brewery has named a bitter after Baldwin and Cooper (http://www.howesound.com/);. Never tried it. Maybe Ed has.

Talk to you all after the holidays. Warm wishes,

Christina
hamie

Social climber
Thekoots
Dec 24, 2009 - 11:01pm PT
Well, here I go, late again. Sorry Christina.
The last time that I saw Jim was at the Greyhound station in Seattle. Twice a year a few friends would drive Jim to Seattle for his spring and fall visits to the Valley. Hitch-hiking on the free-ways was illegal in Washington, but still allowed in Oregon and California. Jim would catch the bus from Seattle to Portland, and then hitch to the Valley from there. Our trips weren't totally altruistic, as we would combine them with a visit to REI, located in a very small space above the Green Apple restaurant, where we could stock up on soft iron pitons. These were the only ones available outside of the Valley at the time, and they only lasted for a few routes. This was still a few years before the formation of MEC, Canada's answer to REI. Before he left, Jim and I agreed to meet up in the Valley for a month or two in the fall. Unfortunately this meeting never happened.
After getting over the shock of his death I resolved to go to Yosemite anyhow. Upthread Guido has used the words "outsiders", "jealousy" and 'territorial imperative". At the time locals were not all as welcoming as they might have been. I think they were worried that some newcomer might claim that their 'hard' routes were really 'easy', and sometimes a mild form of 'hazing' occurred. Of course they had nothing to fear from me, as I made their easy climbs look hard! I arrived at Camp 4 in the dark, and pitched my tent under the closest tree. In the morning another young climber wandered over, and the following conversation took place:
"Where you from?"
"Vancouver".
"Did you know Jim Baldwin?"
"Yes, he was a close friend".
"Welcome to the Valley, man. Want to share a camp-site?"
As Bill A has said, Jim was a quiet and gentle man. Being a friend of his granted me instant access to most of the regulars in C4. The warm welcome which I and other Canadians later received was a direct result of Jim's popularity, and is an important part of his legacy. He was a climber's climber, and always humble about his achievements. I think that he would rank having a beer named after himself at the top of his list! How do you beat that? I can see him chuckling away, between swigs. He was a good friend. I have a photo of him climbing at Squamish, in my living-room.
Cheers, Jim. H.
Keeper of Australia Mt

Trad climber
Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada
Dec 25, 2009 - 02:11am PT
I never knew Jim Baldwin but a late life intersection with climbing and Squamish connected some dots. My career was in archaeology (pointy rocks and such) and unbenowst to me I hung out with a bunch of climbers through the 60's and 70's (mostly Calgarians such as Don Gardner, the Howard sisters and others- who were pioneering routes on the Yam and other locales in and about Canmore). I wasn't into climbing then as I lacked a vehicle to get to the mountains and had never learned to ski. I made a couple of random excursions into the mountains and climbed some modest peak with a few friends on one occasion. Jim was studying archaeology out at UBC under the major domo of BC archaeology - Carl Borden (very German!). Borden and his students were working on reconstructing the native history of the Fraser River Delta and the Fraser Canyon. Borden named a prehistoric occupation phase in his Fraser Canyon sequence after Baldwin (the Baldwin phase). Borden had a legendary lab.office assistant (ex Brit) who was into climbing in the mountains so Jim's connection with the UBC program was probably a pretty good fit. My first field season in archaeology was a 3 month stint on the Queen Charlotte Islands with a former Borden student , Knut Fladmark who was doing his doctorate at U of Calgary where I was doing an undergrad degree. In any case, Jim and I never connected but he sounds llke a great bloke and we likely would have created more than a few dead marines with lots of good stories.

Jim probably would have taken great delight in one of the legendary moments of a slightly later Canadian Archaeological Association annual meeting. About 1973 Simon Fraser University in Burnaby hosted the meeting. Borden was
scheduled to give one of his stirring (ultra starchy)presentations just before lunch one day of the meeting. Usually there might be a couple of dozen archaeologists in the audience (probably mostly rehabbing themselves from the preceding action of the night before!) - shortly before Borden started reading his paper as the last one before lunch - people started filing into the lecture hall - and they kept coming. Borden was energized - never before had any of his talks garnered such attention! The hall ended up being more or less filled up - and he was in his glory! He finished and the people stayed so he sat down. Then a member of the student union came on stage and introduced a featured noon hour lecture - a lady and her dog. It was the Happy Hooker and her German Sheppard. All of the folks had come into the hall to hear her well advertized oral presentation and NOT for Carl Borden's discussion of prehistoric activities in the Fraser Canyon! Borden was thoroughly deflated but despite his German heritage probably had a few laughs as we did. Borden's students still have a good laugh on that one as will Jim when he beams in on Supertopo!
Quaff a draft for Jim and the other good people who have gone before us - during this xmas season. Look after each other and live life well.

Seasons greeting to the Supertoponians.



Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 25, 2009 - 01:13pm PT
Jeff/Hamie: Did Jim Baldwin study archaeology? That seems to be what Jeff is saying, but it's not clear.
hamie

Social climber
Thekoots
Dec 25, 2009 - 05:11pm PT
Yes, Jim was an outstanding archaeology student. Prof. Borden was apparently quite disappointed when Jim decided that climbing was more fun than studying and digging. The fact that one of the occupation phases is named after him confirms his academic ability. Jim had quit UBC by the time that I first met him, but there was an interesting carry-over from his student days. In the early 60s many students would carry their books around in polished brown brief-cases. Seemed like a good idea at the time, since it rains constantly in Vancouver. This was decades before back-packs became a universal fashion accessory and statement. Sounds pretty nerdy today, but pretty cool BITD, if you could afford one. [I never had one, but should have, since I was studying Commerce!] Jim had the brilliant idea of using his old brief-case to store and carry his hardware. It was always comical to see him approach with his pack in one hand, and his brief-case in the other. When another individual left UBC someone commented "We will miss the friendly 'clink' of his brief-case", referring to the bottles inside. In Jim's case we miss the friendly 'clank' of his! When you heard that clank-clank sound, you knew it was time to get your game-face on.
After leaving UBC Jim's life revolved around climbing. He was the first full-time recreational climber from Canada, but not the last! The Grand Wall was like his master's thesis, and the Dihedral was his doctoral dissertation.
There is a full page photo of him leading the notorious expanding flake pitch on the west face of Sentinel, on page 137 of 'Beyond the Vertical', Layton Kor's great biography. The text also describes his 2 falls, when the expanding flake expanded.... Unfortunately this book is both scarce and very expensive.
Jim's legacy now includes a Baldwin beer, a Baldwin award for excellence in climbing, and a Baldwin archaeological phase. Our Renaissance man!! Who'da thunk it, eh? Proud to have known you, Jim.-------H.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Dec 25, 2009 - 07:01pm PT
There is a full page photo of him leading the notorious expanding flake pitch on the west face of Sentinel, on page 137 of 'Beyond the Vertical', Layton Kor's great biography. The text also describes his 2 falls, when the expanding flake expanded....

Jim Baldwin on the notorius expanding flake, Sentinel West Face. <br/>
"Ca...
Jim Baldwin on the notorius expanding flake, Sentinel West Face.
"Can be rated A.1 or A.5, depending on whether the climber pops."
Credit: Layton Kor
Keeper of Australia Mt

Trad climber
Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada
Dec 25, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
Hamie nailed it. The archaeology work would have been in the early 60s out near Yale where Borden was working on his Fraser Canyon sequence. I will have to ask Fladmark and some others for more specifics on his academic initiative. Al MacMillan, recently retired from SFU and who also was an early Borden student would have known him also. Borden started work in BC in the early 1950s and is considered the Father of BC Archaeology. His archaeology was an early add on to his initial UBC responsiblity for teaching German as I recall. Sort of an amateur archaeologist who moved into the vacant niche of teaching archaeology. I think Moira Irvine was the lady who ran the lab and managed Borden's collections. I think she may have passed away a few years back as I tend to recall an obit published somewhere and which indicated her passion for mountaineering in the coast range.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 26, 2009 - 12:28am PT
Moira Irvine (1941 - 89) was editor of the Canadian Alpine Journal from 1974 - 86. She was quite a character, and something of a climber and mountaineer. She got a bachelor's degree in anthropology from UBC in 1962, which must be how she met Jim Baldwin. Her obituary says she spent much of her career as an assistant and then factotum to Professor Borden. I remember visiting Moira occasionally at UBC's Museum of Anthropology, usually to do with reporting on climbing at Squamish. She was the only woman I've ever met who smoked a pipe. http://www.anth.ubc.ca/about-us/laboratory-of-archaeology-loa/moira-irvine-an-appreciation.html

Borden is considered "the father of British Columbia archaeology". http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/u_arch/borden.html

Better yet: "Jim Baldwin, who has accompanied Borden on several field trips, has organized a small field party and is conducting a salvage excavation in the remaining portion of an originally large site on the outskirts of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. He reports considerable progress." http://www.jstor.org/pss/277095 (From Society for American Archaeology "News and Notes" 1955 - when Jim would have been 17.)
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 26, 2009 - 02:32am PT
The site in Prince Rupert which Baldwin excavated - as a 17 year old! - is now known to archaeologists as the Baldwin Site. It was the site of a Coast Tsimshian village that was partly destroyed by construction of the railway, and World War II defence installations. The site was later excavated more thoroughly. http://www.canadianarchaeology.ca/localc14/detail.php?id=5372

Jim also did some early climbing and mountaineering in the Prince Rupert and Terrace areas, but I don't know how much is recorded. I'll see what I can find out.

Oddly, my father was stationed in Prince Rupert in 1945, and probably at least visited the Site. He met Jim in the early 1960s.
Keeper of Australia Mt

Trad climber
Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada
Dec 26, 2009 - 07:24am PT
If Baldwin ran his own small project up in the Prince Rupert area there may be a resulting report on file with the BC Archaeology Branch in Victoria as reports were required in fulfillment of permitting requirements. Would be interesting to read what Jim might have written about that work. That Rupert work would definitely have been some of the earliest in that area - only later to see the big efforts of George MacDonald of the then National Museum of Man (morphing later into the Canadian Museum of Civilization). His Rupert project was underway around the time I was absorbing lots of water (and beer as an underage in the
Skidegate pub)over on the Charlottes. At the end of the summer and after spending an extra week on the island due to a missed ferry ride to Rupert, we drove back down to Vancouver and I went out with Fladmark to Borden's lab - I was pretty young and don't recall too much about the encounter with Moira excepting she was wearing khaki shirt and shorts! 3 rain soaked months digging on the Charlottes certainly reworked your visual acuity and observations! I suspect there was a lot of grit to that lass as Borden was known for being highly structured and so on.
As a slight aside, this climbing thing cropped up a bit later on in my early career when I hooked up with another Calgary grad student, Bryan Gordon for a couple of months in the Thelon Game Santuary in the Barrengrounds of the NWT. Gordon had done an undergrad degree in Chemistry at U of Washington and he used to regale us with stories of climbing Mt. Rainier and so on. He was into regular rock in addition to the alpine stuff. A few years back after I had gotten into this late life divergence of climbing I decided to give him a call at the Canadian Museum of Civilization where he worked. We had a great chat on climbing since he had also climbed at JTree and Squamish (also Peru and some other places). His son was into climbing and they were doing Deidre but got rained out and bailed. Despite modest talent I have managed to get up that one along with Banana Peel and Sickle so we had a good connection on all of that.
We ended up hooking up a year or so later and spent a day climbing on the Erdley Escarpment across from Ottawa in the Gatineau when I was in the east. Bryan was no longer actively climbing at that point.
It is interesting how in ones life there are intersections, divergences and reconnections with people - like eddies in a river at a times.

Despite a rather late start in this game, I was glad to see a couple of grizzled, white haired Aussie lads climbing hard when I was in Tinbeerwah in Queensland a few years back. Thinking about guys like Baldwin is good motivation - "In the Shadow of the Chief" is a great flick that captures that era.

I will see what info I can find buried in the memories of some of my more ancient archaeologist colleagues - about Baldwin and will pass along anything noteworthy.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 26, 2009 - 10:21pm PT
An excerpt from Dick Culbert's "A Climber's Guide to the Coastal Ranges of British Columbia" (1965):

Polywog Mountain (circa 6,000') stands above the highway between mile 29 and 31 west of Terrace. The peak itself is not difficult to reach, but the 3500-ft. face of slab granite above the highway was climbed in 1958 by C. Mair and J. Baldwin, and required 10 1/2 hrs. with direct aid on the upper portion.

The peak is about half way between Terrace and Prince Rupert. Fascinating that they were doing such things there, in 1958. Prince Rupert was then a fairly remote place, mostly fishing and railway oriented. The ability to do such climbs in 1958 suggests climbers determined to somehow acquire the needed skills and equipment, which must have been a formidable task. I wonder how and when and where Jim got started climbing?
Keeper of Australia Mt

Trad climber
Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada
Dec 27, 2009 - 02:47am PT
Definitely some interesting questions surrounding how he got into climbing in the first place at that time and in the Prince Rupert-Terrace area to boot - of all places really. Maybe he spotted that Terrace area crag on his way in and out of his Rupert archaeology work. But it speaks to some earlier accumulated climbing experience - was he working on his climbing trade earlier in Squamish before going north - his gig with Cooper on the Grand Wall was 1961. Probably not a lot of blokes doing this stuff in this area at that time so he certainly was in the vanguard to be sure.

This is the note in Chic Scott's "Pushing the Limits - the Story of Canadian Mountaineering" pg. 241:

"During the late l950s and early 1960s Jim Baldwin was a leading figure
in Coast rock climbing. He began his climbing career on his own at Prince Rupert. Later, while studying anthropology at the University of British
Columbia he discovered the tremendous potential at Squamish and made many new routes including the first ascent of the Grand Wall (1961). This monumental undertaking went a long way toward popularizing rock climbing in the area.
Baldwin was a gregarious man who made a quality drinking companion. Steve
Roper wrote, "Baldwin with his darting eyes, full beard and sensuous lips,
looked and acted like a satyr and the sensual stores he told about his sexual escapades - obviously true because they rarely rebounded to his credit - caused us to reconsider our ideas about "conservative Northwest climbers."

Jim made the first ascent of Dihedral Wall on El Capitan in 1962. With Ed Cooper he laboured many months on the project, and eventually reached the summit with Cooper and Glen Denny. It was early days in Yosemite Valley and the climb was a tremendous achievement for this small town Canadian kid.

In June, 1964, Baldwin was killed in a fall while descending the east face of Washington Column. His death at the early age of 26 was a tremendous loss for Canadian climbing."

There is a good pic (Cooper photo) of Baldwin leading on the Dihedral Wall- pg, 331

Scott has a nice account of the Dihedral Wall climb pp. 331-333. His final words on this climb: " Dihedral Wall , one of the hardest climbs of is kind in the world, was only the third route to be climbed on El Capitan. Baldwin had come from nowhere, and in a few short years had progressed to the leading edge of North American climbing. Had he not died in a climbing accident just two years later he would certainly have
made many more contributions to big wall climbing."

So he was climbing at Terrace at the age of 21 but where and when did he really get into climbing - I mean Rupert is really nowhere as Terrace lies to the east - and it seems unlikely he gained the interest out of the blue there. There must be earlier roots/routes lying to the south - it would interesting to sleuth this out. Moira may have been a source of knowledge but that is now unavailable. Jim would have known her from being in and out of Borden's classes and labs. I wonder if some of Jim's relatives have any insights into it. Kevin McLane's guide indicates that

"... in the 1940s, members of the Alpine Club of Canada and the BC Mountaineering Club engaged in forays to the crags around Murrin Park, driving along the rough road to Britannia from the ferry dock in Squamish." and " ... Les McDonald and Jim Baldwin's ascent of Peasant's Route,... in 1958 when the highway to Vancouver was finally completed."
(pg. 52). So Baldwin was climbing in the area prior to Beckey et als first major route of "Squamish Buttress" which went up in 1959. I wonder
if Jim hooked up with the Alpine Club or BC Mountaineering Club folks forays out to the Squamish area via maybe Moira and others- prior to 1958. And then one thing led to another.

What do you think Anders? Does this sound plausible? Maybe Les Mcdonald is a good source?
Keeper of Australia Mt

Trad climber
Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada
Dec 27, 2009 - 03:47am PT
The tansitioning from archaeology student to itinerant climber would not have been a big thing in those days and for many years later!. Two sides of one coin really connected by common threads of a passion for liquid nutrition, honed and challenging ladies, lots of strenuous physical activity with rock, dirt and such or honed and challenging ladies, amazing natural settings, extreme foraging for the essentials of human existence (excepting water at Squamish) and so on. For three months (digging holes -one being a two metre pit down 23 ft., pancakes every morning including one presentation that featured a embedded typical slimey NW Coast slug) I got paid a big goose egg. We on occasion scavenged deer meat from road kills and developed a strategy of sending the most nubile damsel on our team down to the docks with a couple of bucks and a mission of liberating some serious Pacific salmon from itinerant local fishermen and using a uni credit card for anything under the sun - the climbing lifestyle is not all that much different so it would have been a slam dunk for Jim. Double Jack or Apple Jack was cheap and could deliver a bit of a whallop at a price we could afford. Archaeology field camps would have been minature Camp 4s complete with their own complement of strange and exotic creatures.
Jim would have been at home in either setting for sure.
KungFuGrip

climber
Dec 31, 2009 - 03:56pm PT
From James Baldwin (the second),
All I can say is a massively thankful wow to you all! I am completely blown away by the flood of responses from Jim’s contemporaries and the climbing community as a whole. I was shocked at the variety of great stories coming out after so many years.

As some of you might know, the Baldwin family has never been good at discussing the past and, as you all might imagine, Jim’s passing was extremely hard on the family. My father (Don) was only a year younger than Jim, and I expect that to be the reason for his unwillingness to delve too deeply into the subject. He was never secretive about it, but he certainly wouldn’t volunteer information.

My folks getting ready to move from Prince Rupert inspired Christina’s (Mighty Walker) query into Jim’s past. In clearing out the house my father passed on me Jim‘s hand written Yosemite climbing notes. Inside was a list of numbers and addresses for Jim’s climbing contacts. So many of you are listed there. That got Christina thinking about what else she could find in hopes of making a gift of it for me. You can see why I fell hard for her. Amazing lady.

My interest is, of course, hard-wired into me (namesake and all) as is my love of climbing. I have been climbing things since birth and perhaps that is how Jim started as well. When I started on real rock in the early 90’s there was only a fledgling climbing community in Prince Rupert. They had just started to develop a set of viable routes on good granite at a site along the Skeena River. I can’t imagine that in the 50’s and 60’s climbing was even in anyone from PR’s crystal ball. I would love to know what inspired Uncle Jim to make that intuitive leap.

Thanks to you all once again for filling in the gaps and making this an amazing Christmas season full of lasting memories. Happy New Year from the Baldwin family and myself!

Overwhelmed,
James Baldwin
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Dec 31, 2009 - 04:50pm PT
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, James.

Is there any chance that your uncle's climbing notes inlcude routes that he did in Yosemite?
KungFuGrip

climber
Dec 31, 2009 - 05:20pm PT
Hi Roger,

Yes indeed. His notes begin with a list of climbs and their grades he completed in Yosemite and Squamish, as well what appears to be the start of a essay on tackling the Dihedral Wall. It ends off with a completed 2600 word essay on climbing pioneer John Salathe. It looked to me like he probably had plans to publish both pieces.

The coil bound note pad also had pockets containing folded loose-leaf notes including Jim's climbing contacts and a list of Yosemite climbs hand-written on a piece of Yosemite Lodge note paper. Very cool.
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Dec 31, 2009 - 05:26pm PT
That is very cool, James.

So, did Christina also get you a scanner for Christmas?

(I should be napping rather than sneaking off to have a look-see at ST.)
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Dec 31, 2009 - 05:46pm PT
Sounds like some valuable stuff, I wonder if it could be published...
Gene

Social climber
Dec 31, 2009 - 05:48pm PT
Or archived with Yager at the YCA. Obviously a treasure.

gm
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 31, 2009 - 11:37pm PT
Thank you, James. It's a delight to hear from you.

I look forward to meeting you sometime soon, to going climbing (indoors and out), and to taking you to the Baldwin plaque in the spring. Christina says that you go to the Cliffhanger in Vancouver, so perhaps we've already crossed paths. Also, there are places in B.C. that might provide a home for your uncle's documents.
Keeper of Australia Mt

Trad climber
Whitehorse, Yukon , Canada
Jan 1, 2010 - 12:09am PT
Sounds like an amazing set of records - of high importance to the history of North American climbing. The interesting thing is that they are key to the development of North America's premiere crags - Yosemite and Squamish.
Maybe you could put up the significant info on the site but I would second Mighty Hiker (and Thinker) in recommending finding a repository where they will be preserved for all time. BC Archives is one place but there are others. They could form the basis for a Jim Baldwin Collection containing these and other documents. I will follow up some leads with the BC Archaeology Branch to see if there are any archaeology reports in their library.

Enjoy your jaunt up the Chief this summer! You have the best tour guides so you should have a blast. Take a few pints of Baldwin beer for a hydration moment at the top!
MHope

Big Wall climber
Scarsdale, New York
Jan 1, 2010 - 02:39pm PT
**
photo not found
Missing photo ID#139896
photo not found
Missing photo ID#139896
Dear James II: I'so delighted that you were surprised with your Christmas present from C. It is hard not to miss My Jim and once in a while I take a peek at in the Shadow of the Chief. Your Uncle Brian is the one who put me on to it. You should get to know your Uncle Brian, Jim told me that of his brothers Brian was his favorite. (Dont tell you father I'd not want to hurt his feelings), Brian would probably be a fount of information if you could possibly want more! Jim was a very tender and gentle man and I loved him exceedingly and still do. I thought I was doing him a favor leaving him but it had lousy consequences. PLEASE no free climbing! That is in my opinion a stupid display of machoisim. The Baldwin family is too valuable a Canadian resorce for unnecessary risks. Happy New Year!

Hope Meek....

Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 1, 2010 - 10:46pm PT
Hope: It looks like you tried to post some photos, using a photo-hosting site. If you need information on how to do so, or help, send a note to: aiourom(at)telus.net You can now use the "photo" tab at the top of the "new post" screen, and post directly, without using a host.

First ascents by Jim Baldwin at Squamish, including year and partner(s). Based on his late 1962 compilation.

1. Flake Off (1961; Ken Baker & Jim Sinclair)
2. Xodus (1961; Jim Sinclair)
3. Tourist Delight (1961; Ken Baker)
4. Big Daddy Overhang (1962; Jim Sinclair)
5. Sentry Box (1960; Ed Cooper) (then named Artificial Land)
6. Peasant's Route (1958; Les MacDonald) (the first route with substantial technical climbing)
7. Grand Wall (1961; Ed Cooper) (the first two pitches later became known as the Flake Route)
8. Panic Route (1961; A. Mackenzie, D. Mostowy, Jim Sinclair) (on Eleven Bolt Rock)
9. Slab Alley (1961; Tony Cousins) (first route on the Apron)
10. Diedre (1962; Jim Sinclair)
11. North Gully (1958; five others)

The Grand Wall was much the longest and hardest route Baldwin did at Squamish, and indeed much the longest and hardest rock climb in western Canada at the time. It was two or three years before any similarly challenging route was done at Squamish, although some contemporaneous routes in the Bugaboos, in which Cooper was sometimes involved, were pretty serious.

By late 1962, there were 21 recorded significant climbs at Squamish, and Baldwin had a hand in over half of them. Jim omitted a few climbs from his notes, including:

 Other short climbs at Murrin Park, e.g. those on the Sugarloaf, and on the so-called "Bog Wall". These were apparently not considered significant enough to specifically record.
 Sunshine Chimneys (1960; Ed Cooper)
 Baldwin Crack (1961; Jim not on ascent, but there must be a story to it)
 South Arete (1962; Hamish Mutch)
 Boomstick Crack (1961; Poul Nielsen, Jim Sinclair) (originally considered the last pitches of Slab Alley)
 Granville Street (1961; Ken Baker)

Jim was clearly a busy fellow at Squamish from 1958 - 62, but he doesn't seem to have done any new routes there after then. As with some later Squamish climbers, perhaps once he discovered Yosemite, he had other priorities. Being from (very) rainy Prince Rupert, the sun and warmth must have been quite attractive.

There's an interesting postscript to his guide:

Boulder Problems in the Squamish Area
There are many interesting boulder problems in Murrin Park as well as a 70 ft cliff on the NW shore of Browning Lake called the Sugar Loaf, which is a favorite practice area. There are also many good problems to be found among the boulders at the base of the W wall of the Chief massif. The cliffs on the E side of the town of Squamish also make excellent practise grounds.

The boulders at "the base of the W wall of the Chief" are of course the Grand Wall boulders, now overrun by the pad people. I wonder how many know that bouldering there goes back 50 years, and that Baldwin was probably the first to climb the Black Dike boulder? And the "cliffs on the E side of the town of Squamish" may be referring to the lower/closer part of the Little Smoke Bluffs. There is no other record of climbing there before 1973, but vague traces and stories.

Maybe Clint can check his database, and give us Baldwin's record of FAs in Yosemite? Although I believe that he made some significant early ascents also.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 1, 2010 - 10:59pm PT
From Ed's database (although I've added other things to it):

Yosemite First Ascents by Jim Baldwin

785. Delectable Pinnacle - Left Side FA: Jim Baldwin, 5/1962
874. Dihedral Wall FA: Ed Cooper, Jim Baldwin, Glen Denny, 3-11/1962
1149. Limbo Ledge FA: Jim Baldwin, Steve Roper, 10/1962
1190. Tweedle Dee FA: Frank Sacherer, Jim Baldwin, 6/1963
1768. Yasoo Dome - South Face FA: Jim Baldwin, Kit Carr, 7/1963
2236. Promulgated Pinnacle FA(prusik): Warren Harding, Bob Swift, 1956; FA(base): Jim Baldwin, Joe McKeown, Steve Roper, 6/1963
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 1, 2010 - 11:16pm PT
hey there, say, to the baldwin family...

very wonderful to see these memories, and surfaced "wonders" have made for a wonder new year for you all!!

a wonderful gift of the past, to be more "present" in
your lives...

god bless...

and to mighty hiker:

thanks for posting this:
There is a Jim Baldwin Memorial award, created in 2008. It is presented during the Squamish Mountain Festival each year, "to the climber or team of climbers who display boldness, innovation or significance in the climbing of a new route in the Squamish area".

me not being a climber, naturally i would never have known to even look for such news, but now i know this, and i know more important history of "those that love the rocks"

thanks so very much for being
a sharer to all these folks here...
:)
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Jan 1, 2010 - 11:20pm PT
hey there hope... say, it is very hard to share one's
heart sometimes...

as to this here:
Jim was a very tender and gentle man and I loved him exceedingly and still do.

these are such sweet and deep caring words...
and it lets folks that did not know jim, understand
that much more about him...

thank you for sharing...
god bless...
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 3, 2010 - 01:38am PT
Hey all,

Thanks once again from the bottom of my heart for all the contributions to this conversation both online and off. Your memories of Jim have made me yearn to know him but I know enough to know that some of the spirit of Jim is in my James. The spirits on the other hand, definitely not.

:)

Looking forward to adding a photo to this thread in a few months' time when we organize a few people to go scrambling up to Memorial Ledge.

Christina
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
May 14, 2010 - 01:15am PT
Credit: Mighty Hiker
Well, we haven't quite gotten James and Christina up to the Baldwin plaque yet, due to a damp spring, but hopefully quite soon. Perhaps we'll be able to get there via Slab Alley, the first route on the Apron, which Jim did with Tony in 1961 - it's almost reconditioned.

And perhaps Jim's friends will be able to toast his memory next week.
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 6, 2011 - 11:26am PT
This is my favorite photo of Jim, and truly embodies his spirit and what he was about.
Credit: pix4u
gf

climber
Jan 6, 2011 - 12:16pm PT
Ed,
Thanks for posting this photo, I wonder though if Jim was the first full bore climbing bum-there were a few folks like Don Munday who although a bit more strait-laced was essentially a climbing bum -i guess it all lies in ones outlook; an interesting topic for discussion though.
Hey on another note, a tip of the hat to you and Jim for Grand Wall -i climbed it for the first time in 1979 as a 17 yr old in an april rainstorm -great times.
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 6, 2011 - 12:36pm PT
Here is an early photo of the plaque at Memorial Ledge. Compare it to a photo taken more recently, seen earlier in this thread. The bleaching is no doubt due to water dripping over the plaque and
Credit: pix4u
running down the rock, with minute traces of the metal and fastenings of the plaque.
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
Jan 6, 2011 - 12:36pm PT
Superb imagery! got any shots from the fa of grandwall Ed ?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 6, 2011 - 04:25pm PT
Thanks, Ed!
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 6, 2011 - 06:08pm PT
I'm attaching two pictures of climbing on the Split Pillar. Yes, it did expand, especially with those super large bomb proof pitons made by the local blacksmith in Squamish especially for us, when we ran into this problem. In fact, in one picture looking down the split pillar, you can see a bolt placed a little to the left of the crack as you view it in this image. The reason for this was that just below this point, suddenly most of the pitons I had put in the crack just fell out, leaving me hanging from just one. It was at that point I put in a bolt as back-up. IT DOES EXPAND!
The second picture is a view looking up at Jim, with the large bong pitons clearly seen behing the Split Pillar.
Incidentally, I will be giving a talk & slide show at the Squamish Mountain Fesitival this year, and will show many never before seen pictures climbing the Grand Wall.
Credit: pix4u
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 6, 2011 - 06:10pm PT
Credit: pix4u
bmacd

Trad climber
100% Canadian
Jan 6, 2011 - 11:35pm PT
Ed that is cool seeing a picture, how that bolt, which became 2 bolts, originated on the split pillar. I hammered a bong in there too, and major irreversible problems occurred immediately, that chunk of granite is very flexible.

The route is by far one of the best in world, though I may be biased. I hope we get to see more pictures of it on ST and not wait till the mountain festival ? It's mind boggling that grandwall goes all free now, I've seen photos of guys doing the .12c undercling while wearing big day packs.

Grandwall, Squamish Chief - Split Pillar pitch - 1985
Grandwall, Squamish Chief - Split Pillar pitch - 1985
Credit: Hamish Fraser

Ed, it: pardon my image quality
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Jan 7, 2011 - 12:55am PT
Jim and I shared his last two climbs: the Harding Route on GPA, and the left side of Goodrich Pinnacle. He invited me to the East Face of the Column, however I had previous plans. Those two climbs were my only experiences with him.

I was bivouacked on another route the evening he fell. Returning to Camp 4 the next day; I was told the details by John Evans and others.

Layton Kor also climbed with Jim on the West Face of Sentinel. We were recently discussing what John Evans had told each of us about it. Layton was not in the valley at the time, and heard the story later.

Up until this point we were all acting as if we lived charmed lives.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Jan 7, 2011 - 01:48am PT
Hi Ed,

Thank you for posting the great pictures of the Split Pillar. The little shrub at it's base is now a full fledged Cedar tree. I think the tree will do more to wedge the Pillar off for the most spectacular trundle than any climber could !

Jim
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 7, 2011 - 11:00am PT
Here is a picture which shows the tree at the base of the Split Pillar as a shrub, taken in 1961 as Jim Baldwin is approaching the base of the Split Pillar.
Credit: pix4u
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Jan 7, 2011 - 11:50am PT
Looking down at the same bolt ladder as the previous post &#40;I think...
Looking down at the same bolt ladder as the previous post (I think). Probably 1988: alot less moss!
Credit: Mike Bolte
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 7, 2011 - 08:18pm PT
This is a little off topic, but it is an interesting post from my last visit to Squamish in 2008.
Credit: pix4u
I promise I will post more pix from 1961 soon.
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 9, 2011 - 10:39am PT
Here are a few pictures of Jim and the chockstone in the Roman Chimney.
Credit: pix4u
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 9, 2011 - 10:40am PT
Credit: pix4u
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Jan 9, 2011 - 10:55am PT
Ed,

Thanks so much for your generousity in sharing these pictures. There are many freely available images concerning Yosemite pioneering climbs but seeing these from Squamish is a real treat !

Jim
bmacd

Boulder climber
100% Canadian
Jan 9, 2011 - 01:18pm PT
Ed, so fantastic to see your Squamish shots, much appreciation ….

Grand remembrances of Jim Baldwin.

Roman Chimeneys - Squamish Chief - Grandwall route
Roman Chimeneys - Squamish Chief - Grandwall route
Credit: bmacd
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jan 9, 2011 - 11:12pm PT
Ed

Thanks so much for the old photos of Jim.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jan 9, 2011 - 11:35pm PT
By the way, the verse on that plaque is from a Whitman poem. Not many people had that magic, but Walt did, and he left it for Jim.

To Those Who've Fail'd

To those who've fail'd, in aspiration vast,
To unnam'd soldiers fallen in front on the lead,
To calm, devoted engineers--to over-ardent travelers--to pilots on
their ships,
To many a lofty song and picture without recognition--I'd rear
laurel-cover'd monument,
High, high above the rest--To all cut off before their time,
Possess'd by some strange spirit of fire,
Quench'd by an early death.

by Walt Whitman
(1819-1892)
sac

Trad climber
Sun Coast B.C.
Jan 9, 2011 - 11:58pm PT
AWESOME!!
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Jan 10, 2011 - 12:30am PT
Ed,

Thanks for the great pictures of Jim.
I learned of Jim very early in my climbing career and would hike out to the ledge up on the Apron, look at the plaque and wonder what kind of a guy he was. Over time I learned about his life and death.
What really struck me was an interview with him captured on film after the first ascent of the Grand.
He seemed to convey a gentle and modest nature, maybe even a bit shy and awkward and definitely likable.
In some hard to explain way, Jim has been a role model and his example inspires many of us be the kind of people he would approve of and want to climb with if he were still around.

RIP Jim Baldwin
pix4u

climber
Sonoma, CA
Jan 11, 2011 - 07:57pm PT
Maybe someone out there might have attended the Pauline Johnson School in West Vancouver in 1961, or knew someone who did. At any rate, I am posting a reproduction of a very touching card Jim and I received from this class, in 1961 shortly after the climb was ompleted.
Credit: pix4u
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 11, 2011 - 08:07pm PT
That's very sweet!

Pauline Johnson school is still there, and not far from where Tami grew up. I wonder if she went there?

Johnson was a half-native Canadian writer and performer from the late 19th century, who celebrated her First Peoples heritage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Johnson
hamie

Social climber
Thekoots
Jan 12, 2011 - 02:27am PT
Chief.
That's a great summary of Jim. He was a very quiet and gentle man--but living as he did, his life was not always that of a gentleman, if I can say so without any disrespect. He also had great inner strength, what Sartre calls 'iron in the soul'. He was a good friend to have.
H.
bmacd

Boulder climber
100% Canadian
Jan 12, 2011 - 05:36pm PT
Bump for more classic photos from Ed and Jim Baldwin memories from his friends
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jan 13, 2011 - 02:12am PT
Anders is right, I did grow up near to PJ school but they were our fear'd & hate'd rival school. I attended a school about 1/2 mile west of there...and not until '65 was I there. Youth.

Like Chief above I looked at that plaque and heard the story of Jim Baldwin and wondered what kinda guy he was.

I realize it now - he was just like us. Seeking answers climbing rocks that would answer not our queries but gaining insight we wouldnt realize for decades to come.

Sorry he left us young.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 15, 2011 - 06:19pm PT
The cover of Jim Baldwin's "A Climber's Guide to the Squamish Chief Area", written in 1962.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#186521

And the first page:
photo not found
Missing photo ID#186522
bmacd

Boulder climber
100% Canadian
Jan 15, 2011 - 08:06pm PT
Awesome ...

how about some more pages Anders, for the historical record here. I'm sure Jims family and Christina Peressini, the OP would approve the distribution of his guidebook to a thread dedicated to him.

IE: Grandwall route description
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jan 15, 2011 - 10:37pm PT
bump for climbing
bmacd

Social climber
100% Canadian
Feb 12, 2011 - 04:22pm PT
Bump for more memories of Jim Baldwin
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 20, 2011 - 01:46am PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#209950
Ed Cooper, speaking at the Squamish Mountain Festival on July 16th, in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Grand Wall. He spoke very well about his climbing career generally, and the Grand Wall, with many newly restored photos.

Several climbers from that period were also there, all of whom knew Jim Baldwin and spoke of him.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#209952
Richard Strachan, Ed Cooper, Dick Culbert, Glenn Woodsworth.

A question for guido, hamie, BBA et al: Was Jim the first Canadian climber to climb in Yosemite? Would Roper know? Certainly he must have been the first to have a noticeable presence, and then hamie in 1964. Who was next? Neil Bennett and Gordie Smaill, in about 1968?
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jul 20, 2011 - 02:12am PT
Anders I do know that Neil & Gordie made the first Canuck ascent of the Nose.
Sorry fer the thread drift.
Tricouni

Mountain climber
Vancouver
Jul 20, 2011 - 02:29am PT
Tim Auger was climbing there in the late 1960s, I believe.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Jul 20, 2011 - 02:24pm PT
I love that pic of Jim Baldwin prussiking on the Dihedral Wall with the apron below. It's always reminded me of the gut wrenching feeling of big wall exposure, that feeling of being way the hell up there.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 20, 2011 - 09:53pm PT
I quite like that photo of Baldwin on top of Dihedral Wall. He seems a very happy camper. It tells a nice story.
the finder

Social climber
california
Jun 8, 2013 - 10:01pm PT
Christina, I found a packet of old news clippings regarding J.B's death at Yosemite in 1962, a couple of moldy photos of him that were posted here in one of the replies, a love letter written by him to "Joyce" which he wrote while in Yosemite, and two memorial poems signed J.B. Would that be Joyce?

I found them on the side of the road near Albion in Mendocino County, Ca. maybe 20 years ago and rediscovered them today while cleaning my studio (which is filled with materials for painting, drawing, and collage).

If you're still out there and interested it would make me very happy to send them to you and I'm sure his nephew would love to have these remnants and memories of his uncle.

I don't exactly know how to connect with you but I'll look for your reply or maybe another member of this community can give me some ideas.


Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 8, 2013 - 10:26pm PT
Any dates on the love letter?
the finder

Social climber
california
Jun 8, 2013 - 11:24pm PT
The stationary is headed Yosemite Lodge. On the first page he wrote, "Wed. eve 2230 hours Camp 4". The fourth and last page is only dated, "Thurs. 8:20 a.m."
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Jun 9, 2013 - 10:27am PT
Incredible.

Brings to mind something Neebee wrote not too long ago:


i love this whole story, it has touched my heart... i love families and i love how trails reach around and can come back and hug those that have
lost part of their lives...

this is what life should be about...
Rollover

climber
Gross Vegas
Jun 9, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
Bump for quality.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 9, 2013 - 12:36pm PT
Hello Finder! What a phenomenally generous gift you are offering. My James Baldwin will be so thrilled to receive it. You can mail it to:

Christina Peressini
PO Box 53563
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4M6

Please include your mailing address so that I might send back proper thanks.

Thanks too go out to Mighty Hiker Anders, for pointing me toward this recent post.

Since I first posted that query looking for information about James's uncle, I too began climbing. It was a greatly delayed start because I was overcoming a knee injury for a few years but I am so happy to be learning now (five months in) and enjoying the challenge and the grace of the sport. I'm still only climbing indoors and am climbing primarily up to 5.10a difficulty, but I'm getting there slowly. Now to heal this sprained pinky so I can get back at it with full force!

Thanks again all. Great community you have here.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 10, 2013 - 12:24pm PT
Serendipity strikes, it seems. However the things got to remote Mendocino, what are the odds that someone would pick them up, preserve them, and eventually follow up? Anyway, if they find their way back to the Baldwin family, that would be the right ending to the tale.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jun 10, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
Yey for the Mighty for they have not fallen :-) !!!!
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jun 10, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
I never met Jim Baldwin but I know many climbers who knew him during his times in Yosemite. All agree that he was a wonderful person, and that he was sorely missed after his passing.

I did attend Ed Cooper's presentation of the 50th Anniversary of the FA of the Dihedral Wall. There I took several pictures, one of which is reproduced here twice in two different forms.

Ed Cooper with a slide of Jim Baldwin at the 50th Anniversary of the D...
Ed Cooper with a slide of Jim Baldwin at the 50th Anniversary of the Dihedral Wall presentation.
Credit: BooDawg

Copy of Ed Cooper's pic of Jim Baldwin on the summit of El Cap after t...
Copy of Ed Cooper's pic of Jim Baldwin on the summit of El Cap after the FA of the Dihedral Wall.
Credit: BooDawg with Ed Cooper's help.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Jun 20, 2014 - 09:52pm PT
hey there, I know of Jim Baldwin only through the historical record, but the name stuck on account of the Dihedral Wall FA and Roper's writing in his book. JB struck me as a cool, adventurous guy, maybe a little rakish but so what. I was born well after his death and am now older than he was when he died. Hard to believe.

I've gone up a few pitches of the Dihedral Wall and was very conscious then of the first ascensionists and what they must have experienced seeing the terrain for the first time. True pioneers.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Jun 21, 2014 - 07:05am PT
Pure gold ST, this thread is an example of just how rich content can be. Thanks to all who have shared and to Jim himself who set a standard to aspire, a great human being.
zombie

climber
Dec 23, 2014 - 01:14pm PT
Hi Everyone. I am not a climber, but I have flown a Cessna past the Chief many times and always remember my high school classmate, Jim Baldwin. We were in Booth Memorial HS in Prince Rupert, and we always use to kid Jim about his "big archaeological nose". I was a member of the ski club which Jim sometimes visited. He was a quiet kind of guy with a great sense of humor. Who would have thought that I would be flying and airplane past the cliff he made famous so many years ago. RIP Jim.

Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper climbed this in 1960
Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper climbed this in 1960
Credit: zombie
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Dec 23, 2014 - 02:20pm PT
What a fascinating photograph of the Chief. Thanks "zombie" for the post and the story as well.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Dec 23, 2014 - 06:23pm PT
Zombie, Tami and I think you should elaborate on this. We are all interested to hear your recollections!
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 25, 2015 - 07:04am PT
Hello everyone. Christina Peressini here again, James Baldwin (the Younger's) girlfriend. Thank you so much once again to all who have posted here.

There is a bit of information James and I have learned since I posted here and my aim is to share much of it with you so please stay tuned. It's now a matter of time and logistics.

During my quest for information about Jim for James, I heard from one or two people privately and chose not to share it publicly. Hope Meek, Jim's girlfriend from those many years ago, was one of those people. Now that Hope has passed on I feel more comfortable sharing her sweet memories of Jim as well as some of her poetry. It's clear she was smitten.

Here's is a generous excerpt of Hope Meek's correspondence with me:

– – – 

I was introduced to Jim Baldwin by Steve Roper. Steve had been teaching climbing for the Sierra Club on top of Mt Tamalpais in Marin County, CA. I had gotten pretty good and kept begging him to put me together with a climber in the Valley who would be willing to climb with a #1 woman and #2 a neophite on the big walls. He finally relented and Introduced me to Jim at Camp 4. JIm was a wonderful gentle, bear of a man. He took me up Royal Arches first, in the days when there was a trecherous rotten log at the top that had to be gotten over. He was an addictive personality and I lived with him in his tent and in a rock cave at the top of Camp 4 for two years. That was in the days when the only heated place for climbers in the winter was the men’s room. I remember sleeping on the floor with the few diehard climbers. Not comfortable but warm.

Jim and I and Jeff Foote did a first ascent of the Great White Book in Tuolome 1963. You can find it the records of first ascents. Like Ed Cooper’s wife I am a poet.

– – – 

J.B.

I have lain with you
In fields of flowers
On mountain tops beneath
The murmuring sky
Even on the granite slabs
Heated by the sun
Never feeling prick nor bite
Nor hardness beneath
But only joy above face
Shadowed by sun haloed head
And now you are dead.
I loved you and I love you still’
As you were and are for always
On the rocks and hills
Of memory. Good bye my Jim
Goodbye.

(Published in the S.F. Sierra Club mag, Yodeler)

– – –

I was very touched when Jim’s parents came to visit me after his death knowing how attached we were. I have buckets of stuff on Jim this is just a small taste.

I had been raised in Montreal as a child and I loved Jim’s soft Canadian accent.

If you want to see a picture of me today you will find it on My Space. Eric and Laurie Beck sent me a heads up on your SuperTopo search. This is a bit bitter for me to write as I sit at my computer. I have a picture of Jim framed, to the right of my keyboard.

– – –

Jim was a gentleman in every way. Manners, behavior, and love. One thing not often mentioned, he was also very shy. Odd for a big brave bear of a man but he was shy and unassuming. I loved him dearly and only the fact that I was eight years older than Jim, divorced with a three year-old daughter prevented me from making the decision to marry Jim.

I remember a climbing party given by our friends in Oakland. Jim had just come back from being fed outrageously by his mother in Prince Rupert. His belly was rather prominent and I was sitting on his lap. There was a hush in the conversation as I said “Hey, Jim and I have an announcement.” I patted his stomach and said, “Jim is pregnant.” Everyone broke up laughing but they were disappointed because they were expecting a lasting bond to be announced. There is in fact a lasting bond. I still miss him terribly.

Ed Cooper has some wonderful pictures of Jim, I particularly like the one of him nailing up on the Dihedral Wall.

– – –

TOO SOON TO LATE

If I should meet you once again
I’d run to you.
If I should see you in the street
I’d run to you.

I’d sound glad noises in my throat
And love and laugh
And curse the day
The mad gods laid me in your path.

They made me late, and you too soon
Or is it I
Who came too soon and you too late?
Time is awry.

You are a home
A hearth that I can only rent
My fingertips and cheeks and lips
Retain your scent.

I wanted you
To walk the mountain ridge with me.
To listen
To the silent hillside melody.

To have you hold me
Only briefly, all content.
My fingertips and cheeks and lips
Retain your scent.

– – – 

I left the valley and remarried and then ended up in a sanatorium with Tuberculosis. I didn’t want to chain Jim with an old lady. I’m 81 years old now and have just had total knee replacement which will end my activity on the big walls. I emailed Eric Beck yesterday having heard from him that he was wet and soggy from bouldering in this wretched weather we have been having but with my new knee I might just be able to join him. I was one of the earliest women in the Valley to do technical climbing. I really miss it.

Sorry this is so long but I have been preparing a manuscript for publication and am startled how much of my old stuff is about Jim. I think you can gather how important he was to me.

– – – 


Christina, loving a climber takes courage, I hope your James is worth it.


 - -


TUOLUMNE

I took rock climbing 101 under the aegis of Steve Roper in the sixties. Steve gave classes for the Sierra Club on top of Mt. Tamalpais.

I had become pretty proficient on various techniques and asked Steve to put me together with an experienced climbing partner in Yosemite so I could go on to higher endeavors. (Pun intended)

Steve mischievously put me together with Jim Baldwin. Jim had the reputation of being able to fall in love with a glass of water. Well, I did and we did, and I lived with Jim in Camp 4 commuting from the Bay area every weekend for two years, climbing any route Jim would lead. I’ll never forget that damn rotten log at the top of Royal Arches.

Jim finally decided it was time for me to graduate into something more difficult so we packed up our gear and Jeff Foote, Jim and I drove to Tuolumne. The boys selection of route delighted me. I love climbing but am a lazy walker. I remember being able to drive almost to the bottom of the approach.

Polly Dome is a pleasure to climb it’s so clean. At the time, the boys promised I could name it. I wanted to name it Hope’s Crack but these wild and wooly and full of fleas boys demurred and chose to name it modestly ‘Great White Book’.

The approach is easy, little talus or brush to wade through. We roped up, Jeff Foote leading, me in the middle and Jim on my tail. As I remember, it is about 3 1/2 pitches, the half being the friction at the top.

We used no bolts but maybe a few pitons. The book is very wide open with few cracks in its spine. A foot and hand on each leaf ( to continue the simile of “Book”) with cross pressure and a few good hand holds did the trick most of the way. There was very little feel of exposure until the last pitch where one has to fiddle around a small ledge to get up to the friction at the end of the climb.

To sum it up this is a sweet heart of a climb and I would recommend it to ambitious beginning climbers.


– – –


Thought I had lost this one.

It pretty much tells it like it was when Jim was the center of my life. I was camp cook for our close family of climbers.


– – –


WE WERE THE JEWELS
Yosemite’s Camp 4 in the sixties

We were the jewels on the walls of the valley,
The young and the beautiful, rebellion on granite.
Climbing our passion, our family camp 4
We loved and we trusted our lives to each other
On the end of a rope. A sexual high,
As is flying, rappeling with tinkling hardware,
Pitons and beeners chiming on stone,
Breathtaking slow motion, our music drifts down,
Ignoring Viet Nam, final exams, anxious mothers,
And more. WE were poor, but we ate and we drank
Like the royalty we were.
The tourists in campers were our quarry for food.
Together we foraged our family’s meals
From their blanketed compounds complete with RVs
And TVs ignoring the glory around them.
Their steaks and wine were fine with us,
Just so long as they didn’t dine with us.

Hope Meek 9/21/03
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Jul 25, 2015 - 10:44am PT
Thank you Christina that was beautiful.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Canada
Jul 25, 2015 - 06:53pm PT
Christina,

Jim Baldwin had a brief connection with my family regarding the first ascent of the Grand Wall in Squamish. My older sisters as children, remember shyly meeting the super humans who climbed the Squamish Chief, named Baldwin and Cooper.

It was a big deal and that the 3rd first ascent route (Dihedral Wall) of El Cap included a Squamish climber, that helped to invite a stream of influence that was usually welcomed by Yosemite locals. Jim Baldwin's influence is something you can track through the decades. I don't know a single Canadian
who hasn't been welcome in the Valley

Out of the blue, Hope Meek emailed me through the SuperTopo PM function, asking about another Jim, that being Jim Sinclair. I passed on some contact info thinking that was that but Ms. Meek was truly interested in anyone who knew anything about a part of everything her heart held dear.

Occasionally someone comes along wanting to know how it all worked out for people they knew as youths. I was glad to do what I could.

Thank you for sharing Hope's Poetry for the man she loved.

Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 26, 2015 - 11:26am PT
I can only imagine what a thrill it would be to meet those "super humans" as a child. Watching In the Shadow of the Chief again recently made me wish I could experience the 60s in small town coastal BC. Instead I got to experience the 70s. :)

Yes, Hope's poetry and emails really struck a chord with me. She sure loved that man.
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Jul 26, 2015 - 12:11pm PT
Christina, I'm so glad you were in contact with Hope before she died. I spent a week camping out in Yosemite with her in 2010. I first learned of Hope when she wrote me an email announcing that she was coming to the Sacherer memorial, bringing her Teton Tea recipe with her and would like to camp with myself and another friend who were going. I had never heard of her before but she seemed like an interesting and adventurous woman so I agreed, which turned out to be one of the better decisions of my life, particularly when the other friend had a climbing accident and ended up in the hospital and couldn't come. I was flying in from Japan so the hospitalized friend was supposed to supply all the camping gear. This meant that when I flew into Reno and Hope picked me up, we had to suddenly organize camping gear from Hope's 50 year old supplies, many of which had not been used since her days with Jim Baldwin.

Sentimentally priceless, they were barely functional. The Coleman stove and lantern were real antiques that took a lot of energy to keep going, especially in the week of high altitude rain we endured when we were camping near Tuolumne Meadows. The sleeping bags were so inadequate we had to sleep in the car and go to a motel on occasion but Hope's had an all important heart embroidered on it from her days with Jim. I marveled that Hope who was already 82 at the time and obviously frail after a heart attack and knee surgery, not only endured the hardships but seemed to thrive on them

With the help of lots of red wine (we never did get around to making the Teton Tea) we spent one of the best weeks of our lives, reminiscing about our climbing days, our time living in Japan (how many women climbers have lived in Japan?) and of course all the men we had known and loved. Hope brought her scrapbook of poetry and she spent hours reading those poems to me, alternately laughing and weeping. I heard the story of her being torn between her duty to her daughter and the love of her life who could not give up full time climbing. I heard of her tuberculosis and her pain and lack of closure at not being able to attend Jim's funeral, which I had also experienced in a different context. I heard a lot about her upper class New England background, her Dutch ancestors who owned the land under Wall Street, her winters on the family sugar plantation in Cuba. We shared our stories of rebelling against being "little ladies" while men had all the adventures. We discussed our marriages of which she had three. Her first husband was a high powered American bank executive in Japan who became an alcoholic, since recovered, causing her to return to the U.S. Her second husband was an abusive academic, and her third was a comfortable fit from an old New England family who had been friends of hers for generations.

I understood her relationship to Jim as not only the love of her life but also her muse, the person who symbolized the freedom and return to nature that inspired most of her poetry and that we all long for. I have no doubt that she would have stayed with him if it had not been for her daughter. Jim was a unique personality in a unique time. He represented carefree love and freedom from responsibility in the Eden that was Yosemite at the time, the ultimate in lost innocence. He clearly had taken on mythological proportions in her mind, as almost always happens when someone dies too young. I wondered if she would ever have ever started writing poetry if not for Jim. Her memories and her poetry rescued her from being a staid and respectable housewife. She was able to reclaim her youth and ideals by remembering and writing about Jim. The relationship ended, but the love only grew. I've often thought that Jim would have been overwhelmed if he had known the influence on her life that he really had.


MIDDLE CATHEDRAL AND CAMP 4

Moon in tension over the valley floor
Elk bugle renewal, the rock walls roar
Baldwin left our warm sleeping bag to
Piss his name in the snow, returning
He loved me, our breath a light fog
Like the morning mist river below
As angels going home we climbed
Middle Cathedral that day
Bridal Veil Falls put pearls in Jim’s beard
He laughed when I licked them away
With well laced Teton tea we drank,
Contentment to finish our day.


JIM

Let me touch his hand once more.
Let me sip his nectared tongue.
Let me be his wanton whore,
Thereby stay forever young.
Love is short and life is long.
Friendship lasts forever.
Youth with age is always wrong,
Love’s not very clever.
Now he’s dead, forever mourned
I , the one who maimed him.
Body never more be warmed
by the one who tamed him.



J.B.

I have lain with you J.B.
In fields of flowers
On mountain tops beneath
The murmuring sky
Even on the granite slabs
Heated by the sun
Never feeling prick nor bite
Nor hardness beneath
But only joy above face
Shadowed by sun haloed head
And now you are dead.
I loved you and I love you still’
As you were and are for always
On the rocks and hills
Of memory. Good bye my Jim
Goodbye.


BALDWIN

O.K., O.K.,,,
I've loved you two years live
and ten years dead
isn't that enough?
And in my rage and in my age
given two youths your face
and excused myself, saying their
need was greater than mine
I would love them and make
them well,, HELL! - my lying head
my lying head you're dead
why must I resurrect you
always 24 always beautiful
why can't you grow old , get
bald and paunchy. 24
when I killed you...

When I killed you ? !

Sharon said I did, John
screamed you bitch you bitch
you killed him! I wasn't
even there - I was busy
dying too - in the sanatorium,
remember? - did I kill you?
I meant to give you life
instead, both of us are dead.



CHASING SHADOWS

I chase my voice thru echoing years,
past friends and former husbands.
Rebelling from the trap of expectations
I can tell you stories and preposterous tales
of how I lost my innocence before Matins.
A golden grapefruit picked from a tropic tree
and the luscious youth I gave it to.
A girl bound rigid by society,
in rooms of scrupulous taste and hot house blooms,
I hear those who thought
they owned me. Still hear their voices
calling once they’re sober,
“Come home, come back”.
And I have walked beneath the cherry blossoms
sprinkling in my hair and hurried to the Ryokan
to meet my lover there on gold tatami
far from reality.
My voice,
canters down an unpaved road.
It coats its throat with maple syrup
for singing in the wilderness and throws
echoes up Yosemite’s climbing walls,
while laughing at outrageous dirty jokes.
I was not brought up to sing the thing I am.
Elitist, Iconoclast,
unowned by any man.








Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 26, 2015 - 12:58pm PT
Jan,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories of Hope and Jim.
In addition to the premature death of a former lover, part of her poem you quoted and also her earlier post suggest she also felt some regret, that their breakup may have been very distracting to Jim and may have contributed to the accident:
I thought I was doing him a favor leaving him but it had lousy consequences.
(Personally, I feel a climber has to take responsibility and not go climbing if they are not feeling mentally ready).

Past love lost and regret can be powerful feelings.
They can motivate creativity, productivity or even just provide a temporary escape from the routine of ordinary life. I think many if not most of us have experienced these things.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Jul 26, 2015 - 02:49pm PT
The poem "BALDWIN" in particular is a raw jagged memory. Thanks for posting these Jan.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 27, 2015 - 01:38pm PT
Thanks so much for your stories about Hope, Jan. Clint, I agree completely. Each person has to take responsibility for their state of mind when putting themselves in harm's way.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 28, 2015 - 08:21am PT
"A climber never dies. His body may not live but his name and his record will live forever. And this is why I am never scared. Because I will live for a thousand years."

Jyothi Raj, India's famous "Monkey Climber"
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jul 31, 2015 - 06:29am PT

In Butch Farrabee and Michael Ghiglieri’s book, Death In Yosemite, there is a description of Baldwin’s accident, apparently gleaned from the Park records:

June 19, 1964… Twenty six year old James E Baldwin, a Canadian who only two years earlier had done the first aid-climb of El Capitan’s 2,400 foot Dihedral Wall was retreating off Washington Column with John Evans. Baldwin’s heart had not been in the climb since before even the onset—he was having relationship problems with a woman named Helen. The problem? It seemed she was not interested in being his girlfriend.

Near dusk, Baldwin gave up on trying to focus on the climb. He stopped and yelled to Evans: “Would you hate me for the rest of my life if I chickened out?” Evans said no, he would not...Baldwin rappelled right off the end of his rope and fell several hundred feet.

Flip Flop

climber
Earth Planet, Universe
Jul 17, 2016 - 08:56pm PT
What a fascinating thread.
hamie

Social climber
Thekoots
Jul 18, 2016 - 12:03am PT
It's grotesque that anyone would write a book like "Death in Yosemite".

It's even more grotesque that anyone would buy and read such a book.
BooDawg

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Jul 18, 2016 - 12:54pm PT
Thank you, Jan, for sharing your thoughts and memories and Hope's poems.

Co-authored by a former member of YOSAR, "Off the Wall: Death In Yosemite" was written partially because if we have the knowledge about why people die, unnaturally, in our parks, others may be wiser and more careful in the parks. There is a lot of good history there as well.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 1, 2017 - 02:07pm PT
Hello everyone! If you read back a few years in this thread you'll see a post from a woman called The Finder. She found a packet of clippings on the side of the road in Mendocino County, California around the early 90s. She held onto them thinking she might use them for an art project at some point but years later decided to try and find their rightful owner. I am not sure who the rightful owner is but have reached out to Ed since, among the items, there is a letter he wrote to someone. So, that item will be of most interest to him. But the rest may be of interest to the rest of you. I took a picture of the assorted faded and discoloured clippings and photos. Some of Hope Meek's poetry (typewritten) is also among the ephemera. Enjoy.
Ephemera found by The Finder in Mendocino County, CA circa 1993, sent ...
Ephemera found by The Finder in Mendocino County, CA circa 1993, sent to me in Vancouver, BC in 2013
Credit: Mighty Walker
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Apr 1, 2017 - 04:55pm PT
Ed lived in Mendocino town, I once visited him there many years ago, circa 70s?
hamie

Social climber
Thekoots
Apr 1, 2017 - 05:05pm PT
That's Jim Baldwin top right in the photo above.........
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2017 - 03:37pm PT
Despite the age of these photos, it's clear one shot is of Jim and another is of Ed Cooper. And the poems are Hope Meek's.

How's this for a strange twist of events. I managed to get in touch with Ed Cooper by email this week about these items, thinking the letter signed by "Ed" was Ed Cooper but it turns out it wasn't him. He has no idea who Joyce is and says the letter wasn't written by him. So, there's another Ed out there who lived in Camp 4 in the 60s and had a sweetheart named Joyce. If anyone on this thread knows who either of these people could be, please let me know. I'd love to get these items back to their rightful owner.

There is no date on the letter but it likely dates back to the 60s given how it looks (and smells).

From this letter we know that this Ed owned a Mercedes and ended up sleeping in it because all sites at the camp were booked up when he arrived. He was looking forward to a date he and Joyce had coming up. He writes of "Our Lady of the Spires" looking wonderfully bright that day. He writes, "The accompanying envelope is a commemorative issue; went into the store this PM to purchase it. When the bill came up I found the envelope and 6 cent stamp came to $1.50. I was too reticent to back down. Anyway, nothing is really too good for you." He also goes on to talk about eating breakfast at the nearby lodge (probably the Yosemite Lodge based on the letterhead this is written on) for $1.80. So, again, I'm thinking this must be the 60s. He also mentions someone named Steve. Roper perhaps since "Roper, El Cap" is written on the back of one rather damaged photo.

The mystery deepens.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Apr 4, 2017 - 03:41pm PT
Ed Leeper was current at the time of that memory bundle. He made pitons, hooks and early Z shaped steel nuts.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2017 - 03:49pm PT
Ooh, is Ed Leeper still around?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 5, 2017 - 10:00pm PT
Check your email and see if my message got to you.
Mighty Walker

climber
Vancouver
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 6, 2017 - 01:33pm PT
Steve, there's no email from you in my in box. Try again? peressini@gmail.com.
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