In 1911, at the age of 22 years and while a student at St John's College Cambridge, James Wordie applied to become a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club (founded in 1889). His membership form shows the Scottish hills that he had climbed over a six-year period, with dates and weather conditions.
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Early experience of mountaineering
James Wordie learned to love the Scottish hills from an early age. His family regularly took a house near Appin in the West Highlands, and Wordie enjoyed trekking and walking with his father, and later planning independent hikes in the nearby hills.
In 1903, following the death of his sister Jean from meningitis, Wordie accompanied his family on a two-month trip to the Alps. Although he had visited this region before, this trip proved to be a life-changing experience. Wordie undertook his first serious climb, scaling the peaks of Les Dents Blanches above Champery, followed by a series of other ascents in the same area. He was fascinated by the scale and splendour of this mountain range, and this sparked a lifelong interest in rocks and ice.
On his return to Scotland, Wordie began spending more time in the Scottish hills. He planned his first independent excursion in 1904, at the age of 15 years. Walking and hiking became a regular hobby, and he scaled about 50 Scottish peaks whilst still a teenager.
Whilst studying at Cambridge from 1910-1912, Wordie continued to find time for climbing and hill-walking. He was also a 'University Alpinist', scaling the ancient walls and steeples of the colleges under cover of darkness to avoid being caught by the University authorities.
Wordie kept up his interest in walking, climbing, and stalking throughout his life, until his health began to fail.
He was appointed Chairman of the British Mountaineering Council from 1953-1956, and was also Chairman of the Mount Everest Foundation, established after the successful ascent of Everest in 1953.