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Rusty Baillie



   

 

Born and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1940, where he first experimented with rock-climbing as a precocious teenager, Rusty Baillie soon headed down to the University of Cape Town, to train as a teacher, and further experiment with rock-climbing on the massive crags of Table Mountain.

He did well on the rocks, not so well with his BS degree, where he failed a major course over a philosophical disagreement with his History professor and, like many other happy dropouts set off to see the world…and climb in the European Alps.

All that exam trauma was not wasted however as, in 1970, he found himself working an Outward Bound program at the brand new Prescott College in Arizona USA. He transferred to Education, picked up some courses and, finally, graduated with a BA. Modern learning seemed a lot more fun so he went on to earn a doctorate while working a similar program at the University Of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. He received his PH.D. in 1983 from Union Graduate School in Outdoor Education: Sports Psychology & Risk Management. His dissertation Mental Training for Mountaineering was accepted for publication.

Jobs in Outdoor Education, back in the last millennium, had a fairytale flavor and included time in Wales, with the National Outdoor Center, Argyll Scotland; at Benmore Outdoor Center, and at the National Outdoor Leadership Center at Glenmore Lodge in Inverness Shire. A challenging post with Colorado Outward Bound, Colorado, in 1968 coincided with the massive Afro-American riots and involved rehabilitating black high school dropouts. This job was approved on the basis of Rusty having been born in Africa, thus an “Afro-American”, the program sponsors not realizing he was, in fact, white.

His connection with rock-climbing eventually developed into a love of all mountaineering: snow and ice, ski touring, aid and bigwall, canyoneering, high altitude expeditions...and even whitewater kayaking and mountain biking. He started out becoming intimate with the technical routes on Mount Kenya, did the “First Rhodesian Ascent” of the Eigerwand, new routes on the overhanging big walls of the Sondre Trolltind in Norway and the Painted Wall of the Gunnison in Colorado. He achieved a first-solo of the iconic frozen waterfall, Polar Circus, before modern ice tools made such things fairly sensible. He pioneered the Old Man of Hoy, Scotland’s most famous Sea Stack, with two other professionalized “climbing bums”—Sir Christian Bonnington and Dr. Tom Patey.

Quite early on, while resting in a beach job in Malindi, Kenya, Rusty met Pat, a Yorkshire girl, fell in love, got married in Leysin, Switzerland (neutral territory to both families), and started a family.

Rusty published Thumb Butte: A Climbing Guide in 1991and The Promised Land & Lower Sullies in 1995, both part of a mini series titled “Prescott Rock”. Additionally, Rock and Ice magazine has published three of his articles. In 2000 the city of Post Falls, Idaho published his online climbing guide to the Q’emiln climbing walls, The Northwest Passage. Finally, in 2019, Jordan Halland premiered Rusty’s Ascent at the Telluride Film Festival.

The number of his first ascents are “legion”, a biblical word he used when “over 500” was suggested. He is president of the Idaho Panhandle Mountain Bike Alliance and organized the North Idaho Trail Riders Association in 2005.

Titles by Rusty Baillie:

Mr. Quarter-to-Two
Life & Death with Mother Nature's Misfits
Language: English
Published: Sep 25, 2020

 
 
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