James W. Ebert, 1947-2011
James W. Ebert, 1947–2011
Jim Ebert was born and raised in the geographically oppressed Plains of the Midwest. In spite of this initial handicap, he grew into one of the most impressive climbing instructors and out- doorsmen in America.
His parents, John and Ede, started the Iowa Mountaineers Club in the 1940s and compiled an impressive record of ascents and explorations around the world, especially in North America. Jim was exposed to the mountains and climbing from an early age and as he matured became a leader in the Club and president of the Iowa Mountaineers for many years. He continued the legacy of the Iowa Mountaineers on many domestic and international outings. He was a skilled, analytic climber, but his greatest skill was teaching others to enjoy the wonders of the crags and mountains.
Jim taught thousands of us to climb through his work with the Iowa Mountaineers, University of Iowa Recreational Services, and other organizations. His greatest gift to his students was an emphasis on safety and making the mountains and rock faces fun. My life- changing moment occurred in the early 1970s when Jim convinced me as a first day rock- climbing student that, though half his weight, I could hold his practice leader fall on a belay plate. Jim’s lesson led to belays of climbing buddies around the globe for four more decades.
In recent years he extended his dream of taking people to the wilderness by serving as a director of the Easter Seals Camp in Kentucky and developing Alpenglow Adventures, which takes physically challenged individuals to such spectacularly rugged places as the Grand Canyon, Kilimanjaro, and the Inca Trail.
Jim, who was always the picture of health and fitness, died while hiking with his son Justin on Mt. Whitney on July 26, 2011, at age 64. He is survived by his wife, Margie, and children, James, Jared, Justin, and Jean. He was a lifetime member of the AAC and a member of the Austrian Alpine Club.
His spirit and his love for the world’s beautiful places will live on through the many of us he trained and inspired.