Autobiography Itching to Climb - 2nd Edition 2014 by Barbara James:
After her severe childhood eczema lessened, her life changed for ever when she was introduced to the Snowdonia hills, although Barbara's allergy to raindrops & her own sweat remained.
- A Rarity, a female Mountain insructor / M'tn rescuer / first aider, at Ogwen Cottage 1960s
- Probably first / only civilian female to train infantry junior soldiers, 1977-87
- A Solo explorer in Falklands, where told "Anyone can learn to fly" 1988
- In receipt of 50th birthday present from herself, Private Pilot's Licence, Caernarfon 1989
- A Solo pilot of a Cessna, 40 hours round Florida 1990
- A late student of both Spanish language and Guitar playing, going solo in both in Tenerife, living among Canarians
- walk, but don't climb 500-metre vertical rock faces
- have travelled in a plane, but not actually flown one
- have not trained infantry junior leaders
- enjoy islands as diverse as St Kilda, Falklands, Tenerife
Excerpts from "Itching to Climb"
North Wales, on climbing instruction: ... It was a warm summer day when I heard the unforgettably awful thud of a falling body bouncing against rock. .. although I had never heard the sound before, instinct took over. I pushed my group around a corner, away from the rock face, and an attractive young girl landed where we had been standing seconds before. ..unconscious and breathing, but sadly she died...
Climbing from Aigle-du-Midi, Chamonix Mont Blanc: ... We were descending from the Plan, roped together, glissading, a standing slide down the snow, when Ron caught my heels and we both fell. The sun-softened slope had caused snowballs to form under his crampons making them gripless. Roped together we slid downhill, alternately stopping each other's fall with our ice axes for a second before the weight of the other again jerked the axe out of the snow. I had a worm's-eye view of a crevasse, a dangerous crack in a glacier...
Symonds Yat, near Bristol, Army training of Junior Leaders: ... the trees, conveniently above and below the rock band, gave us shelter from the gale-force wind and good anchor points for the short 'top roping' climbs Both the climber and his partner who held his rope stood at the bottom of the crag; the rope that joined them was running through a snap link above. The anchor took in the rope as the companion climbed; it was all running well when I heard a shout, "The tree's falling down!" I thought it was a joke, but the repeated shout vibrated with genuine panic, gaps in the soil were appearing, the whole tree was swaying downwards towards the river below. A junior was attached to that tree. I grabbed the climber's rope while another junior, who luckily had a sharp knife, cut free the anchor man and we all moved away. Like a drunken man, the tree swayed until it fell downhill with a crash, smashing all around it as it went...
..we walked to the top of Conachair, 1397ft (426m). Never before had I kept a hand above my head to avoid injury from the dive bombing skuas; I lowered it when the bird was close. To sit on a cliff edge communing with gliding fulmars and gannets was a magical, if brief, experience. .... I enjoyed our early morning patrols to catch young Puffins hiding behind oil drums; we threw them into the sea where they were safe from preying birds.
We landed on Pebble Island .. the warden, John Reid, introduced me to a BBC TV crew who were going to recce the whereabouts of sea lions, Magellan penguins, a red buzzard and a peregrine falcon. I accepted their offer of a lift. They left me by a perfect, white, diamond-sharp sparkling beach. Here I sat, alone, fascinated by the line of Gentoo penguins marching, or paddling on their tummies, to the sea. It was hard to tear myself away to explore and really 'get the feel' of the place..
.. and I never passed an airfield without landing. My first real, self-inflicted fright was about forty minutes flying time South of Naples at the Everglades. This short airstrip had water at both ends and trees besides both runways, which could cause wind shear. I was on final approach to land when suddenly I was eye to eye with a pelican. My avoiding swerve was completed just before I began the struggle to land a plane that was now severely affected by downdrafts. It took far longer than expected before the wheels finally touched terra firma; immediately, but gently, I pushed the throttle forward to full power. Although this mustn't be done too quickly, I was only just airborne before the runway ended...
Corpus Christi, an important date in the Canarian calendar, was not in my diary, so seeing all the preparations for this special day in June for the first time was a real surprise. In the north of Tenerife there were magnificent floral carpets, but in the drier south Adeje locals made theirs from dyed salt. To ensure that no two carpets were the same, the co-ordiantor received all the plans; their complexity depended upon the experience of the makers. Among the many regular contributors were the local police, the firemen, the hotel Bahia del Duqe and Casa de Mayores (the retired centre). ..
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Extract from TRAIL Magazine Article Spring 2010
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--- Extract from The Alpine Journal 2012 ---