By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March. 17, 2012
To honour the memory of his late friend and pioneer climber Tony Cousins, Jim Sinclair decided to put a memorial plaque on the Squamish Chief.
About 750 feet above ground, on the side of the Chief, he had a heart attack. Fortunately, the 79-year-old climber took along Nadine Beckham and Peder Ouroum with him.
As he lay on the memorial ledge looking up at the clear sky, he noticed the figure of a man coming down from the sky.
Another accomplished climber, John Furneaux, was rappelling down the Chief, and he helped Sinclair reach the ground safely.
It might have slowed him down, but the heart attack hasn’t deterred the 69-year-old Jim Sinclair from climbing.
Neither did the 70-feet fall he took a few years before that.
You can still see him climbing in the Murrin Park, and he still doesn’t miss an opportunity to hike.
Ask him about climbing at this age, and he will remind you of comedian Bob Hope’s words.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
Like Fred Becky, who still climbs at 79, Jim Sinclair knows that it isn’t climbing at an old age that would kill him.
Staying away from the mountains would kill him.
It’s been half a century since this pioneer climber first set foot on a mountain climb with a ‘hermit’ named P.R Lockie.
He was 23, and it was the Beartooth Mountain in Powell River they had set out to climb.
It was Lockie who introduced him to a German climber, Christen Shiel, who had come to work in Powell River as a draftsman.
“Those two were the ones that introduced me to climbing in 1957,” he says.
In 1960, he moved to Vancouver, and started climbing in Squamish. Here he was introduced to Jim Baldwin and Ed Cooper, the famous duo that first climbed the Chief.
Climbing equipment has changed and so has the variety of climbs over these 50 years, he says.
What hasn’t changed is his drive for climbing. Its lesson is humility and a profound sense, every time he is on the rock, of overcoming obstacles.
Climbers, he says, will come and go, but the rock will stay, as it was eons ago.