Ron James (mountaineer)

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Ron James MBE is a mountaineer, rock climber, writer and co-founder of the Ogwen Cottage Mountain School in Snowdonia, North Wales, UK.

He was an accomplished rock climber with over 40 first ascents in North Wales many of which have become classics such as Grey Arete, Glyder Fawr, Meshach and The Plum at Tremadog. In the Alps his favourite area was the Italian Dolomites which he visited every year for 40 years. He has written rock climbing guides to North Wales and to the Dolomites. (see References). He is a qualified IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations) Mountain Guide (Honoured, Retired) and has served as President of the British Mountain Guides. Member of the Climbers Club since 1959 and the Alpine Club since 1974.

Amongst his many achievement in the Alps, the UK and especially North Wales, he played a pivotal role in the setting up Ogwen Cottage as an outdoor pursuits centre. 1n 1959, with two friends (one of whom was Tony Mason) he bought an old guest house beside Llyn Ogwen and set up Ogwen Cottage Mountain School. They ran a wide variety of mountain-based courses ranging from weekends for families to a month-long course for the SAS. All courses were based on the principles of safety, enjoyment and developing an interest, environmental awareness, involvement in an inter-dependent community and self-discovery.

Ogwen Cottage was a mountain rescue post and this responsibility led to the formation of Ogwen Cottage Mountain Rescue Team, the first rescue team in Wales. In 1964 he was co-founder of the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Organisation ( OVMRO Web Site), which is still in operation today. He is an honorary member of the team and in 1971 was awarded a Certificate for Distinguished Service in Mountain Rescue.

In 1964 the City of Birmingham took over Ogwen Cottage which became Ogwen Cottage Outdoor Pursuits Centre and it is still thriving today. Ron was Head of the centre for 5 years then was appointed Principal Lecturer and Head of Outdoor Education at I.M.Marsh College of Physical Education, now part of John Moores University in Liverpool. The Environmental Education certificate course evolved into a B.Ed Honours course. Later a full-time Advanced Diploma in Outdoor Education for graduate teachers was developed. He was in this post from 1969 to 1985 when he retired to live in North Wales. He joined the Ramblers Association and led walks and assisted with navigation courses.

In the 2009 Queens Birthday Honours list he was awarded the MBE for services to mountaineering.


Ron James "Dolomites West and East" published by the Alpine Club 2005 is an update of the 1988 Dolomites Selected Climbs. It is a major rewrite of the 1988 edition with many new routes and areas as well as a section on sport climbing areas. Ron climbed many areas of the Italian Dolomites for over 30 years.

James's Rock Climbing in Wales (First edition 1970) was a climbing guide to Snowdonia and its five centres: The Ogwen Valley, The Llanberis Pass, Beddgelert, Dolwyddelan and Holyhead Mountain. The book detailed 200 climbs chosen by the author, after 30 years' experience. The book had three editions.

TV series[edit]

In 1974 Ron was involved in the production of the 10 programmes BBC TV series "Rockface", an instructional guide to rock climbing. Produced the book "Rockface" to accompany the series.


External links[edit]