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AAC Member Jim Goodwin Turning 100

Posted on: February 26th, 2010 by admin

Jim Goodwin on his first peak, at age 9.

American Alpine Club member Jim Goodwin, who joined the club in 1938, will celebrate his 100th birthday on March 8. Goodwin lives in Keene Valley, New York, in the heart of the Adirondacks, where he did his first climbing and enjoyed much of his life in the mountains.

As a teenager, Goodwin completed what was probably the first winter ascent of Gothics, one of the Adirondacks’ most challenging peaks. That summer, he began rock climbing with John Case (later president of the AAC), and Goodwin eventually did numerous new routes in the Dacks, including chopping steps up the famous Chapel Pond ice slab for its first ascent in 1936. He also hand-built trails and worked as a guide in the High Peaks. Goodwin climbed throughout the American West and in the Canadian Rockies, and his famous climbing partners included Fred Beckey, Fritz Wiessner, and AAC honorary president Bill Putnam.

During World War II, Goodwin taught climbing to troops of the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale in Colorado and Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. He served as a medic in Italy during the mountain troops’ famous assaults on Riva Ridge and Mt. Belevedere.

Goodwin by a plaque commemorating his cutting of the Porter Trail in 1924, at age 14.

Lyndy Burdet, who joined the AAC in the mid-1950s with sponsorship from Goodwin, still talks to him every few weeks. “He is so amazing and so sharp,” she said.

Goodwin’s son, Tony, and his brother have published their father’s memoirs, called And Gladly Guide: Reflections on a Life in the Mountains. Copies are available for $25 (post-paid), with all proceeds benefiting the Adirondack Forty-Sixers and other nonprofits supported by their father. To get a copy, send a check to Tony Goodwin, 26 Bark Eater Way, Keene, NY 12942.

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