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James Baldwin, 1938 - 1964

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