A Brief Walk with Bridwell (1971-ish)

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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 9, 2005 - 10:16am PT
Bridwell and I hadn’t climbed together for awhile, but we had been working on our outfits and we had plans. Mostly Jim’s rigs involved stuff from the men’s AND ladies’ racks at Goodwill in Merced. I think these Jimi Hendrix-inspired arrangements usually rang in at less than $5, not including the driving to Merced. We wore through stuff fast in that bold era of daily offwidthing and wall climbs that lasted weeks. And Jim was clearly a leader in this trend towards the outré and the recycled. Kind of a year-round Halloween or Mardi Gras.

Well this particular time, we were thinking to do "Henley Quits", and scope out the left side (which was still just a project I think) while descending from the anchors of the regular one-pitch summitless route on the right. We both had done it already; it was new, popular and fun.

But I swear I had no idea what Jim had planned additionally. By the time midday developed---the proper time for white women of quality to finally make it up the half-hour long talus field, Jim was peaking on some Acid, and had sensibly slipped into a custom brocaded vest he had made, ladies pink stretch Capri pants, and a really large white long-sleeved shirt, reminiscent of Rudolf Valentino---these two things from Merced. It was a new kind of Lionine Look, not seen before. And of course a large paisley bandanna which a number of us longer-haired climbers always donned to underline our general nobility, bravery and all-around wisdom. His design had attained complete freedom of movement a decade BEFORE Lycra! We were clearly ready.

I enjoyed the little route. Just another warm lazy summer day too. The climb had some water on it at the small roof but that did not matter too much. I set up and began the belay. Jim was slower than usual. Normally he pretty much swarmed up a climb and then it was over. Not this time, though. He was maybe having to negotiate with the surface patterns in the rock, you see… By the time he got to the roof, although strong, he just wasn’t the same guy, seeing him top out in that outfit while obviously distracted by all the stuff that was wiggling... I was sober, though and we rappelled down and checked out the adjacent route that Hargis ended up with somehow. And we ended up too busy with much more important stuff at camp and Merced obviously, to be bothered to return.

the Fet

Trad climber
Loomis, CA
Nov 9, 2005 - 10:30am PT
Nice flashback.
Mike.

climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 10:42am PT
Sweet post--a real nugget.

Thanks for taking the time.
Gramicci

Social climber
Ventura
Nov 9, 2005 - 11:22am PT
Does anyone remember the custom speed skiing suits he made? Guy’s like McKinney and Clonica and himself wore. Records were set!

Jim and I bought our first industrial sewing machines from “Snowlion” when they went out of business, 2 Juki-415’s sweat machines with needle feed for you techno types.


Jim got me into the business! Brought the seamstress out in me !

Never forget
yo

climber
NOT Fresno
Nov 9, 2005 - 11:25am PT
And so the legend grows.
WBraun

climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 11:29am PT
I remember those human condom speed skiing suits, Mike. Skiing with the Bird, Mckinney and Craig Clonica on 220 long boards at speeds the CHP would throw us in jail for.
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Nov 9, 2005 - 11:34am PT
nothing like skiing at speeds illegal in a car.

finally sent my red white and blue 225's to goodwill a few years back. figured if i ever got on them again, i was guarenteed to lose a minimum of one knee.
WBraun

climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 11:49am PT
Hey Kathy

Remember that winter when Jim was shoveling snow off the roofs in town and he lost his front teeth, ha ha ha. They got buried when the launched a huge block off a roof. They were using a rope to under cut the snow on the roofs and Bridwell had the rope in his teeth for a moment and the block I think gave and out pops his front teeth.

He was working for the Mammoth ski school that winter and every time he would greet his class in the morning for the first time he had that big gap in the front. Was pretty funny.
Gramicci

Social climber
Ventura
Nov 9, 2005 - 11:52am PT
They would have thrown away the key Werner, to this day I have never seen better, smoother, skiers than you guys.

I sort of remember 240ish + I think the best use nowadays would be rafters in a tent cabin

Recycle!


I always wondered how he lost those front teeth? He’d take them out on Halloween and scare the tourists.
WBraun

climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 12:02pm PT
They (Mammoth patrol) once got me for going way to fast but Bridwell and Dorworth were ahead of me. All they saw (patrol) was me and they tried to grab me. Bridwell came skiing up at a good clip and sprayed the patrol guy with a huge rooster tail of snow to divert his attention. Then The Bird says to me to book it and I smoked it out of there.

They finally caught me in the Main Lodge and physically dragged me into the patrol room and locked me in there while Dorworth is pounding on the door outside, ha ha ha. Some real crazy sh-it in those days.

I think we are going off subject, sorry Peter.
Festus

Mountain climber
Antelope Valley
Nov 9, 2005 - 01:11pm PT
What years were all you guys at Mammoth?
Festus

climber
San Diego
Nov 9, 2005 - 01:32pm PT
I was there the winter before (horrible snow year until one big, late season dump) cranking bindings in the rental shop, but friends I went up with hung around for years after. Did you know Steve Serbe, Tom Trumbull or Bill(y) Glynn?
WBraun

climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 01:32pm PT
Kathy I can't remember one year from the next. They all seem to blend together into one big whole, or hole?

But definitely the 70's
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Nov 9, 2005 - 01:41pm PT
The Fet sez: "Nice flashback."

Can't top that. Thanks Peter. I always enjoy your writing.
WBraun

climber
Nov 9, 2005 - 01:54pm PT
Oh yea Kathy when Bridwell and Peggy had that house in town they had some crazy brit living there too. He wired the meter to go backwards so their electric bill was zilch. Ha ha ha
Gramicci

Social climber
Ventura
Nov 9, 2005 - 02:19pm PT
Peter Minks, Brit, god i hope he's still alive
Blinny

Trad climber
NorthWestMontana
Nov 9, 2005 - 02:37pm PT
HohMahn! That A frame in the ghetto! REMEMBER THAT?

YIKES!

I remember a couple crazy brits either living there or just hangin' for a while. . . I want to say the names Troy(d) and Allan. THEY WERE HILARIOUS! They were the ones who introduced me to the Monty Python one liners. . . like. . . "I wipe my bottom with your mother's cat!" and stuff like that! They called coffee creamer "Whitener".

"Kahthleen, pass me the whitener!"

They both called me "Kahthleen." Like a big nasty cough!

And it was many-a-day before I figured out that being pissed to those guys meant being drunk. . . I kept thinking they were just angry young men talkin' about being mad all the time!

HohMahn!
Festus

climber
San Diego
Nov 9, 2005 - 03:13pm PT
Hey, Kath. Glynn is still up there and still working for the mountain. He and I went up for that one season...and he never came back. We still absolutely refuse to call him Billy, but that's the name that stuck at Mammoth. Neither one of us knew jack about climbing, though my brother (Cracko) had tied us onto a gold line and yanked us up a few Mission Gorge climbs...and maybe put Veritical World in our hands. So I knew just enough to where people would tell me Bridwell stories on trips in later years...but none as good as the ones that show up here.

Keep it up, guys, it's good stuff! (...though also the reason near non-climbers like me are tuned in--guess you gotta take the good with the bad)
Festus

climber
San Diego
Nov 9, 2005 - 03:32pm PT
Damn, I've actually got a climbing story about Bill. One of the few people I've ever climbed with who has less ability than me!
My first multi-pitch climb was The Trough at Tahquitz. He did it with friends of ours just before I did. There's that one exposed step-across where you come to the huge ledge with the big tree. The exposure got to him and he literally froze, and hugged that tree forever before finally getting talked/lifted off it. We've never let him forget it, the incident forever being known as Glynn Freezes on The Trough, 5.0. Sorry to interrupt a great thread, but that's what the bastard gets for always being out of town when I hit Mammoth in need of some freebies!
Hardman Knott

Gym climber
Straight Outta Squamton
Nov 9, 2005 - 05:24pm PT
Peter –– great story. You should post more often.

Dave
(met you at Ironworks that time with Inez)
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