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Two U.K. Climbing Legends Died This Week

Ron James and Jimmy Marshall were at the forefront of hard climbing over 50 years ago

Some of the world’s first cutting-edge rock and ice climbers were based in the U.K. It was reported this week that legends Ron James and Jimmy Marshall died. Neither were climbing at the time.

James, an IFMGA mountain guide, wrote some of the most-loved guidebooks of the 1970s and 1980s, including Dolomites Selected Climbs and Rock Climbing Wales. The latter had three editions and is still considered one of the best guidebooks ever written in the U.K. He made dozens of first ascents of now-classic routes in Wales, such as The Plum at Tremadog. He served as the president of the British Association of Mountain Guides, co-founded the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation, and was a member of the Climbers Club since 1959. In 2009, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to mountaineering.

Marshall was one of the most advanced climbers in Scotland in the 1950s and 1960s. During one week in 1960, Marshall and Robin Smith changed Scottish winter climbing forever with the first ascent of Orion Face Direct (V, 5), and the second ascent of Point Five Gully (V, 5). They climbed the latter in only seven hours, as opposed to the first ascent team’s time of more than 40 hours. He became one of the leading mentors in the Scottish Mountain Club and was a regular contributor to the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal.

“Climbing with us was 80 per cent humour and 20 per cent activity,” said Marshall in an interview by Dave MacLeod in 2008, which you can watch below. Climbers like James and Marshall helped shape the sport of climbing, pushed the limits during their time and inspired thousands. Out condolences to their families and friends.

Ron James and Jimmy Marshall