James Wilcox was an outstanding and versatile climber, who strived for excellence in his life, and inspired excellence in others. We honor his achievements through the James Wilcox Award: A living memorial to Jim’s adventurous spirit and a catalyst for the future adventures of others, on big walls throughout the world. 

Sponsored by The Ragged Mountain Foundation, the annual Jim Wilcox Award is designed to help support small teams tackling big dreams in the great mountains of the world-- from New England to Nepal. Climbs proposed should present a significant technical or personal challenge, including, but not limited to: a first ascent, repeat ascent, or first alpine style ascent. 

Awards will be made to climbers whose plans best exemplify the spirit of adventure through modern, technical climbing, with special emphasis placed on ‘leave no trace’ ethics and best style of ascent.

Grants of $500 will be awarded each year to one member / team.

For full application procedures and guidelines please download the award application and email completed applications to jwilcoxclimb@aol.com.  

Alternatively, nominations for worthy candidates are accepted, for full information on the nomination procedure please download the "nomination application"  


Jim Wilcox was an outstanding and versatile climber, and a friend to all who had the opportunity to cross his path. During the 1980's he was at the forefront of new route development in Connecticut, and his home was "climbing central" for the CT climbing community.  Jim was involved with Connecticut's access and protection issues, and co-authored the guidebook to Chatfield Hollow.  Jim was proud to serve on the Board of the Ragged Mountain Foundation.  But what Jim is most remembered for is his impassioned commitment to big wall climbing and mountaineering.  He climbed many big walls from the northeast to Yosemite to the mountains of Europe. 

This award is a memorial to Jim and his love of adventure.  Its aim is to allow other climbers to experience the excitement and commitment of big walls or big mountains that they would not otherwise be able to visit.  We hope that this award will strengthen the Connecticut climbing community by providing new opportunities to RMF members and providing inspiration through the shared experience. This award is funded by the James Wilcox Fund.  All of the money in this fund was donated to the RMF in Jim's memory. Membership dues and general contributions to the RMF are not used for the Wilcox Fund.  The RMF occasionally holds fundraising events to benefit this fund.   


The selection process will consider the following aspects of a proposed ascent: 

  • Personal Challenge: does this climb push the participants to a new level?

  • Opportunity: will the Wilcox grant provide an opportunity to your party that would not have been available without it?

  • Significance: is the proposed ascent of interest to the climbing community?

  • Style: Will the route be climbed in good style - both technically and ethically?

All sorts of climbs could potentially be funded: big walls, remote peaks, new routes. Small parties are preferred and participants are encouraged to leave no trace of their ascent. The seriousness of the objective is not the only basis for consideration - you need not have a long climbing resume or a record of first ascents. Rather, we hope that the proposed route will present a personal challenge to the applicants.  You don't have to be going to Nepal or Peru to get a Wilcox award. Maybe you want to do your first ever big wall in Yosemite or see an unclimbed line on a remote peak in the Cascades. This award is about pushing your personal limits, not necessarily being on the cutting edge of the sport.


Any member of the RMF can apply for the Wilcox Award. If you are not a member, you can join online or by mailing in a membership application. Annual dues are only $15 and include a subscription to Overlook, the RMF newsletter.  RMF Board Members are ineligible during their elected term(s).  

If you receive an award, we ask that you share your experience with the RMF through photos and a written account of your trip. If possible, we would like you to talk about your experiences at the RMF annual meeting or some other RMF event that will be available to our membership.