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For the first time, Professional Trail Builders Association awarded the 2005 Harvey Bell Award to one of its own members, Jim Angell of Corplan, Inc.
Jim described himself as one who “solves
difficult problems with ease.” That is
exactly what he did as both trail designer and builder. As a one-person company,
he gracefully hung trails on steep mountain faces where few souls could even
conceive a trail, then built them with volunteer crews, prison inmates,
professional trail contractors, or any other available labor source. He was one
of the first to design trails for virtually all uses, from rock climbing
accesses to accessible trails, mountain bikes to horses to OHVs, from rugged
mountains to manicured city parks. And he constantly sought—and often
invented—ways to improve everything he tackled. Few trail designers have this
Jim's ability to make the complex look easy comes from his background and personality. Highly intelligent and highly educated, he had an astounding collection of opera yet could kick back an (imported) beer with the rest of the dirt diggers. Earlier in his life, he taught ballroom dancing and worked as a mechanical engineer, optimizing the visual puzzle of cutting clothing parts from the parent material with minimal fabric waste. As a trail designer, he was a rare combination of practical engineer, theoretical engineer, visual artist and trail user. In his words, he “put himself in the user’s shoes” and designed trails to be fun for the designated use as well as sustainable. He had a talent for fitting trails into sites so well that, as both art and science, they feel natural and you can't imagine them being anyplace else. In construction and cost estimation, he had a talent for accurately finding the quantities of everything and for writing tight, complex specifications with no omissions or errors.
Growing out of his long interest in technical rock climbing, Jim did much of the work in his 20-some year trail career with the non-profit Access Fund, designing and building sustainable trails to popular rock climbing areas across the U.S. (Jack of many trades, he was also an early board member for the Access Fund.) Yet even though he was extremely good at impossible trails, he still stretched himself into design, consulting and construction of virtually all trail types for all types of agencies.
He also conducted trainings and workshops, including providing virtually all of the content (and much of the planning) for PTBA’s 2002 Trailbuilders Conference. In one memorable incident, PTBA sent Jim to the National Trails Symposium. On arrival, he discovered—surprise!—he was scheduled to deliver a presentation. He sat down with his laptop and portable printer, developed a presentation with handouts from scratch, then delivered it smoothly as if he had prepared it far in advance. That's how he was—always eager to apply his formidable mind to any trail problem.
We always thought that he was such a stubborn old goat that he'd live forever. However, in February 2005 at the age of 76, Jim passed away following a sudden illness one month before the award presentation. His son Jamie accepted the Harvey Bell Award on his behalf.
Anyone who ever had a chance to talk with Jim at any depth will never forget him—or his opinions hard and numerous as the rocks he loved. Those who don't know Jim but have experienced his trails will subtly note his talent for gracefully weaving a trail into virtually any site, for turning obstacles into features, and for crafting a direct, comfortable, yet aesthetic trail with no wasted effort.
Those of us who both knew him and continue to benefit from his trails, however, know how he and his trails are one.
Read more . . .
Jim Angell, master trail builder, dies at age 76
Fred Beckey, "Will Belay For Food!!!
Smith Rock "Spring Thing"
About Brad Washburn by Michael Chessler
Top of the world: Bend team set to scale Mt. Everest
Annapurna, a woman's place is on top
The search for Peter Starr
Seven summits in twenty-four hours in Oregon Cascades
Mountaineers mourn Ira Spring
Climbing Legends returning for another shot at Everest
Fred Beckey, icon and living legend
Galen and Barbara Rowell die in plane crash
Mike Bearzi spearheads donation of rescue cache to Smith Rock
Veteran alpinist Mike Bearzi dies while climbing in Tibet
Bend's Midge Cross with women's team on Everest!
Bend's Nancy Knoble climbs Aconcagua!
Goran Kropp killed while rock climbing in Washington
About Alpine Mountaineering:
The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
Following the Leader
The Mountaineers' Rope
Basic Responsibilities Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
The Ten Essential Systems Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales
WARNING - *DISCLAIMER!*
South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister (the sinister sister) and Broken Top in the Three Sisters Wilderness near Bend, Oregon
Photo Copyright© 2004 - 2011 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.