Barbara James in the Daily Postcourtesy Daily Post

'"From childhood, when I was a baby in a pram, if a raindrop landed on my arm an itchy lump would come. It still does" said climber and pilot Barbara James' - Daily Post, 21st June 2014

Barbara James - Sunday Lead Speaker at Kendal Mountain Festival logo
Kendal Mountain Festival ,
17 November 2013

".. one of the great characters of our rich and diverse climbing family."
Sir Chris Bonington
Sir Chris Bonington describes Barbara James in his foreword to "Itching to Climb"

199 action-packed pages
softback, size 216x140 mm, fits nicely in your book shelf

Boardman Tasker prize Nomination Boardman Tasker Prize 2009 Nomination for Mountain Literature

Listen here to
Barbara's Radio Interview
(14 minutes) with Jamie and Lou
on BBC Wales

BBC Radio Wales

National Eczema Society

Alpine Club

The world's first-ever mountaineering club, founded in 1857, publishes the prestige Alpine Journal each year with worldwide distribution.

In 2012, Alpine Journal on pp357-358 included a Val Randall review of Itching to Climb:

"Itching to Climb provides readers with meticulously detailed descriptions ... become acquainted with a remarkable woman who has reacted with self-effacing humour and quiet resilience to the problems and opportunities with which life has presented her." Val Randall

Interested in climbing? read more here at the Alpine Club - Barbara James is a member

Barbara on an uphill  day out

Excerpt from Choice Magazine April 2010

Ramblers logo
Prefer less vertical when you walk outdoors? Probably Ramblers is for you.
Ramblers Wales
Wales has some of the best walking , as well as tough climbs. Croeso i'r Cerddwyr! Welcome to Ramblers Wales!

" Though I had been a colleague of Barbara's for some years.. I had absolutely no idea at all of the richly varied, exciting, dangerous and fascinating life she had lived. Hers is a unique life and experience by any standards. Most men would be totally daunted by the challenges she has faced, the experiences she has lived through and the careers she has pursued. Little wonder, then, that she was a pioneer woman in so many activities normally reserved for the bravest of men.
One would never know this in meeting Barbara James for she is one of the least pushy and most modest and self-effacing of people.

Endorsement by Rev Alun Hawkins, Dean of Bangor 2004 - 2011

"Airline pilots view mountains best at a safe distance, thank you, even while we daily climb to the height of Everest in half an hour. Of course we know that physically climbing an actual mountain .. is much harder and can be very dangerous. You need agility and guts, and to do it safely requires much skill and knowledge and team-work. Handicapped by severe eczema, concentrating on rock-climbing is so much more difficult. So how did a woman suffererer of this disabling condition succeed? .. It all took determination, but then Barbara James is a very brave and determined lady. You just have to be focussed, in order to concentrate when your skin is burning. Itching to Climb is her story. You may be humbled by it, as I was.

- Extract from a foreward to the book by an Airline Captain.

      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.

Barbara was:

- this autobiography makes an inspiring read for all who

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...

St Kilda:

..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..


Finals to land at Naples Florida

.. 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...

Tenerife: street-carpets

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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Trail Article

Extract from TRAIL Magazine Article Spring 2010

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Alpine Club Journal Review of "Itching To Climb"

--- Extract from The Alpine Journal 2012 ---