A BRIEF WALK WITH BRIDWELL (from 2005)

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Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 21, 2009 - 06:08pm PT
(refers to the Tom Patey (hilarious) story, A Short Walk with Whillans. My story has appeared before but maybe some here haven't seen it. It concerns an event around 1971)

A BRIEF WALK WITH BRIDWELL

Bridwell and I hadnít climbed together for awhile, but we had been working on our outfits and we had plans. Mostly Jimís rigs involved adapting stuff from the menís AND ladiesí racks at Goodwill in Merced for the fierce conditions we met out on the rock. 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 outrť and the recycled. Kind of a year-round Halloween or Mardi Gras with certain unique festive aspects we brought to it as well.

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

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 I think he 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 seeÖ By the time he got to the roof, although strong, he just wasnít the same guy, seeing him top out in that outfit while obviously distracted by all the stuff that was wriggling all around... and it seemed he might at least have one eye on that old Doorway of Perception. You know, the Huxleyian proposal of a portal to I guess another world. I was sober, though and we rappelled down while checking 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 with the left side.

AFTERWORD: The pink lady's capri pants and vest were also featured in the famous photo taken about 4 years later after Jim, Billy Westbay and Largo did the first NIAD



Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 21, 2009 - 06:11pm PT
Somewhat on topic, there is more on Jim and Peter's adventures in 1971 on "The Birth of Wheat Thin" - http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=257921
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Jul 22, 2009 - 01:44am PT
Well, Peter, yo talkin' one of my favorite topics....couture. Bridwell was one of the best ! Awesome imagination. Sure wish someday I could talk to him about his thought process on clothing and climbing. My documented Favorite here on ST....Mr. Bridwell's Paisley.

Peace Jim Bridwell, and thanks for making life more than real for many. lrl
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 22, 2009 - 02:07am PT
Lynnie, I just got back from a dinner with Higgins and Al Steck, plus his daughter Sarah, in Berkeley. We kinda had our own room thank god at this Italian restaurant on University, Caffe Venezia. We got noisy. We dined for over three hours. God I love those two characters, Al and Tommie Higgins. Gee. Get a couple of belts in Higgins and he goes like the March Hare! Rode back across the Bay Bridge on my motorcycle, fog rolling in, semi intense highspeed traffic, now sitting in my flat looking east from where I came just now. It's late. Thrilled to feel loved and best of all, to be funny!! Still kind of wound up.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 22, 2009 - 02:27am PT
There are few pleasures greater than a social engagement with old friends from the wars.

Except, perhaps, doing so in conjunction with the FaceLift.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Jul 22, 2009 - 02:42am PT
Peter,

A three hour (Italian of course) dinner with Steck, Sarah and Higgins is a Wow !

Fog rollin' in, motorcycle, San Fran, driving over the bridge, sitting in yo flat....feeling all that the good times encompass plus feeling the love....yeah, special. Life only gets just a little bit better than that. Feeling the fun and the zest....lynnie
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Jul 22, 2009 - 02:43am PT
Mighty Hiker, Yep.....Face Lift !!!111 Smiles, Lynne
Ŗ ő ō T « H

Boulder climber
the ground up
Jul 22, 2009 - 04:36am PT
Bridwell here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJNe0sL1E0k
Mark Hudon

Trad climber
Hood River, OR
Jul 22, 2009 - 11:40am PT
Great story, Peter, great shot also.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Jul 22, 2009 - 03:22pm PT
Bump for bold fashion statements. Sending love your way Peter. Thanks.
Barcus

Trad climber
San Luis Obispo, Ca.
Jul 22, 2009 - 05:50pm PT
I'm bumpin this one so I can find it again!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2011 - 10:25am PT
There are more tales to tell of this sort. Especially funny was the period when Bridwell was learning to sew; I think he had the help of one of the girlfriends that lived in the company dorm across the road. I remember his getting all fretty and angry trying to sew pants made from heavy upholstery velvet with a regular bottom-feed machine without basting, parts having to be seam-ripped apart and tried one again, Jim's face descending into Mad Lion mode, voice going up two octaves in fury. Too funny. But I remember those pants DID make it into the Pavillion. Darker blue/violet. He wore them for years. Really wide bellbottoms.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 19, 2011 - 10:57am PT
Great story Peter! Everyone out there who care about Jim B. Should try to get him climbing again- he needs it for his physical and spiritual well being.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2011 - 11:27am PT
Amen on that, J-Do. Without climbing, Jim starts to drag his anchors, that is for sure.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2011 - 11:33am PT
Pate, thanks. This little piece was one of the first of the stories I have been doing. It is from around 2004 or so, but has been reappearing for years of course.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Feb 19, 2011 - 12:08pm PT
i had a brief talk with bridwell last weekend. he has a book, a little bigger than a bible but with a red cover. can't remember the name of it, but it begins with a "U" and he seems to think it has more answers than the bible.

jim's bottom line is worth repeating: the world won't be at peace until it has one language and one religion.

interesting that jim picked up sewing. my first wife had a head full of dress designs but no mechanical skills, so i taught myself how to sew. it took several months. i remember making a beautiful christmas-themed dress with six yards of red satin and some white lace. a respectable skill, sewing.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Feb 19, 2011 - 12:47pm PT
And how would you know Cosmic? Could have been the Upanishads.
Tony Bird

climber
Northridge, CA
Feb 19, 2011 - 03:13pm PT
urantia--that's the one.

is that how you went cosmic, cosmic?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 19, 2011 - 08:14pm PT
The Urantia Book should be required reading. He'll, Glen Beck considers it second only to The Book of Mormon in influencing his intellectual development.
Norton

Social climber
the Wastelands
Feb 19, 2011 - 08:40pm PT
his "intellectual" development?
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