Jim Curran v Jim Perrin (part 1 of 6)

In an earlier posting  Jim Perrin loses a court case?  we were referring to the case, it had been decided, which was to be brought against him and we are now able to give the facts as told us by the other person most nearly concerned — ‘the injured party’.

In 1979 Jim Perrin was climbing with a fellow climber, Jim CURRAN, on the sea-cliffs of Wales. The step by step and the finger-tip-hold progression of this climb — the attempt of a new route on the Mewsford Point — is documented in chapter twenty of Jim Curran’s* autobiography, Here, There and Everywhere.  (published in Spring, 2012) and is described minutely in climbing terms which will be recognised by all rock-climbers: even to non-climbers it is apparent from his words that Jim, as Jim Perrin’s climbing partner on that occasion, was placed in some danger and experienced considerable disquiet as he followed.

He wrote:

‘I was never too sure about my feelings for Jim Perrin. Because of our mutual interest [in climbing] and some similarity with our names, people often got us confused, to my amusement and to his irritation but unlike, say, Paul Nunn or Joe Brown, he [JP] didn’t seem to have any sympathy for, or understanding of, his partners — me in this case. I felt his climbing was very much for his own self-fulfilment and I was just a portable belayer, a feeling that grew stronger as the day wore on.’

Jim’s specific and detailed record of that climb is perhaps too involved to be copied here, full as it is of climbing-speak and descriptions of the climbing equipment and paraphernalia absolutely necessary to life and limb of the climber; but really if at all possible it should be read, in order to realize the full impact of what Jim is relating.

He ended the chapter, and the story of the climb — a climb which, it might be said, was memorable for all the wrong reasons — by saying: ‘So Jim [Perrin] had his new route and we were both still alive.’ — ‘Later he wrote a good article about it for the Climbers’ Club ‘Journal’.’   And, we know, that Jim Perrin also wrote of it in the anthology, ‘Extreme Rock’; and that he had spoken, elsewhere, of their new climb as ‘Epic’…

It is particularly important to stress, in light of developments years later, that in neither of these pieces did Jim Perrin so much as hint that he had, at that time, misgivings or criticism of any kind about the calibre of Jim Curran’s climbing; which, by common consent, despite his self-deprecatory description of his own ability, was certainly way above that of Jim Perrin (one needs only read on-line all the details of Jim Curran’s career) — more broadly-experienced and with a much greater and more varied range. Their climb was graded E2 5c.

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We have spoken with several climbers — climbers who, although too modest to claim it of themselves, are exceptionally experienced in their own right and well thought of in the climbing community — who after reading Jim’s autobiography and his description of the climb commented to us:

1)   ‘Clearly Perrin was highly motivated to do this route and was thoughtless, and certainly irresponsible, towards his anchor-man.’

2)   ‘Jim Curran obviously found himself in a horrible situation.’

3)   ‘A responsible climber, leading, should have — as an equal duty to their second — made sure that they were well-anchored.’

4)   ‘It is evident from the account that Jim Perrin was irresponsible, careless (in the proper sense of that word) and was putting his climbing second in real and perceived danger.’

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Jim Curran, on the other hand, and with masterly understatement, summarised his account of the climb by writing:  ‘So a gripping day went into the memory bank, and there it stayed for 11 years.’

Jac’s sisters.

*  Jim has kindly allowed us to quote him directly, from our conversations and from his book, in the course of our posts (as did the other climbers whose opinions we sought). What we have written is a strictly accurate account of what we were told…