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Touchstone death/ James Welton RIP
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Oct 31, 2008, 9:18 PM
Post #51 of 54 (3915 views)

Registered: Oct 31, 2008
Posts: 1

James [In reply to]
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I first met James two years ago, although it seems I already had known him for years the day that I finally met him - I'd heard so much about him from Ken, my partner, and from our mutual friend Season, who knew and loved James for many, many years.

Ah, the James stories... Ken, who almost never touches his computer, somehow figured out how to make a personal picture his desktop... his computer features a full-face photo of this remarkably hairy individual, shirtless, in dark glasses with a snowfield behind... huge set of white teeth smiling in the middle... "That's James", says Ken when asked. "We were ice climbing."

Ken taught James to ice climb 15 years ago, or so, back when James was a clean-cut hotelier in one of Elko's casino establishments.

I was at Ken's house a couple of years ago when James arrived in town after having been driving for 24+ hours or so. Ken was at work. James walked in, said "Oh, you're here..." Fortunately, the conversation went uphill from there. James was moving to Elko for a while, and came in time to join Ken and me for a trip to Argentina and Aconcagua.

James was a spectacular human being. There were no strangers in James' world, only friends he hadn't met yet. He was so good with children, too - with Ken's kids and with Season's little boy. The world stopped for kids, and no explaination was too tiring, nothing was uninteresting, when kids were around. James was the ultimate kids' life tour guide.

Ken considered him to be his best friend, and it didn't take long for me to understand why. James cared so much about Ken, about his state of mind, his relationship with his children, his relationship with himself and with me. Honestly, I don't know how to have a relationship with Ken without having James in the middle - James was Ken's other half (the half that would actually talk about things). We were starting to gear up for James moving to the other side of the country - he'd been spending more and more time on the road, with Jamie and on climbing trips, and Ken had moved out to my house and left James with Perry at his. I am having a very hard time getting my head around not having him there any more - it's one thing to know he's living on the other side of the country and will likely blow through town at some point... it's quite another to know that he isn't coming back. I can still hear his voice... see him smile at somebody's joke with a mouth full of food.

I am writing this from Kathmandu. Ken and I were climbing Lobuje East and Ama Dablam in the Everest region when we got the news. The US Embassy got a message to us at Ama Dablam base camp that James had fallen to his death. Hard, hard news so far away. We aborted the rest of our trip in the Khumbu to try and get to Kathmandu and fly home, but the arrangements haven't worked.

It was a two day walk to Lukla and the airport from where we were camped. I left base camp about an hour ahead of the Sherpa team - I'd had a picture in my mind the night before of a beautiful place on the way down.

In the Khumbu, the Sherpas build stone memorials, called chhorten, for their friends and family who've died. I built a small one for James and for a little four year old boy, the son of a friend who lost his eyesight and then his life to cancer. The chhorten is on a rock outcropping about 10 minutes walk down from Ama Dablam base camp, with a magnificent view of Cholatse and the Imja Khola drainage. I don't think James would mind sharing his chhorten with little Tanner... I think they would both be better for the company. James loved children - he was so good with them - and he loved showing them the beauty of the mountains. Tanner never got to see them... he would appreciate such a tour guide.

Ken walked up just as I was finishing... we know that, if James' spirit visits the places he is remembered, he'll have a beautiful place to visit here.

I am sorry this is so disjointed.


(This post was edited by mountaingirl1961 on Oct 31, 2008, 9:19 PM)


Nov 1, 2008, 12:47 PM
Post #52 of 54 (3879 views)

Registered: Nov 1, 2008
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Re: [clmbrchick] Touchstone death/ James Welton RIP [In reply to]
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My name is Jason Lantz. I'm not a climber,(scared of mountain heights) but I was a good friend of Jim's in High School. I first met Jim (or Welton thats what I always called him) in Charles City High School. It was my first year at a new school and I really didn't know any one. James was one of the first people I was to call a friend. When ever I had a lot on my mind or didn't know how to let off steam he was always there to tell me that there is always a brighter side to life.. I don't remember how many times when we played ADand D that his and Andy's characters didn't wander off the adventure. If it wasn't for him and others I met through drama classes I would have stayed such a serious person. Jim was always such a good friend and I always admired his skills and beliefs.
After High school I really didn't keep in touch with Jim.but when I would go to plays his Mom would talk about his adventures. It was great to hear about them. I was alway proud that he did the things he loved. I am so glad that he met as compassionate people as he was. I always thought that one day we would get together and talk about the old times and laugh, but unfortunately it didn't happen. It has been so good to see the pictures and memories that all of you have. I wish I could write or show pictures of my memories. From all the moving after high school my pictures have all disappeared . So, I want to thank you all for sharing.

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Oct 17, 2014, 12:33 AM
Post #53 of 54 (2392 views)

Registered: Oct 23, 2008
Posts: 4

Re: [clmbrchick] Touchstone death/ James Welton RIP [In reply to]
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On Oct. 17, 2008, my friend & co-worker James Welton died in a climbing accident in Zion National Park. James, an expert outdoorsman, loved the wilderness and had to live wher there were mountains to climb. During the week of Oct. 17-24, 2014 (and every year), please honor our "St. James Day" in this way: GET OUTSIDE, then take a picture of YOU LOVING BEING OUTSIDE, and post it for all to see (including James' family and friends). Whether you hike a 14er, push the stroller around the block, climb a frozen waterfall, or put out your arms & spin in the sunshine - GET OUTSIDE & LOVE IT!

James was a mountain first-responder, a seasoned mountain climber and camper, a true friend, a life-long learner, and a natural teacher. He made climbing - and all of life - look easy, with his effortless, flowing style in both. James loved life, his family, Jamie, and being outside most of all. He has absolutely positively affected each person who had the pleasure of knowing him, just through being James - and many who didn't, through "St. James Day" OUTSIDE.

Here's a link to our Facebook "event" so anyone, anywhere, can play along, too:

Thanks in advance - Steph Weber (Formerly of Elko, Now in Denver)

#GetOutside #StJamesDay #Oct17EveryYear
Attachments: StJamesDay2014.jpg (91.8 KB)


Oct 17, 2014, 4:27 PM
Post #54 of 54 (2348 views)

Registered: Sep 30, 2001
Posts: 1454

Re: [salbertsweber] Touchstone death/ James Welton RIP [In reply to]
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This is sad news. Sincere condolences to family and friends.

James was a great guy and kindly allowed me to use some of his photographs of the Potrero Chico in my Potrero Select guidebook.

(This post was edited by potreroed on Oct 18, 2014, 12:10 PM)

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