bridwell stories


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Social climber
The West
Apr 10, 2005 - 04:24pm PT
Klaus, hmm, guess the cat's out of the bag on that one.
If you did Freestone, how did you like the lieback on pitch 5?

Social climber
The West
Apr 10, 2005 - 05:21pm PT
Bruce, if that, (Ms Blinny's) isn't part of what you're looking for, don't bother.

Cheers, and thanks!

Apr 10, 2005 - 10:14pm PT
Geek towers got its name from those three derelicts that were hanging around camp4 back in the day. The leader always wore this weird top hat with his long curly hair hanging out and his two side kicks were his tag along.

One day Jim Pettigrew gave them the name "Loco Ono and the Geeky Nerfs" which kinda stuck for those guys. So when they got to the top of the left side of FreeStone Bridwell called it Geek Towers after that crew. The next ledge down was named nerf towers.

Hence in regards to Klaus photo ………

Once, Bridwell and Pettigrew were cooking dinner over at the Annex housing area across from camp 4. They had one of those two burner propane stoves. Pettigrew tells Jim that he can smell gas leaking from the connection at the tank. Propane has reverse threads, he he. Bridwell thinks he’s tightening the connection instead he’s loosening it by turning clockwise.

Kapow the tank explodes of the line and takes off like a flaming rocket, fish-tailing around the lot, then over the roofs igniting the pine needles up there and then into the employee housing area. Flames everywhere! Bridwell singed his hair, eyebrows, and that handlebar moustache. Yosemite Fire had to come and hose down the place. Bridwell couldn’t get his dog out from under his van for a long time, it was so scared.


Trad climber
On that V2 problem at the Happies
Apr 10, 2005 - 11:19pm PT
Dingus, and Misses Blinny,
those stories are classic
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 11, 2005 - 12:31am PT
from the Yosemite Valley Climbs data base:

10.96 1972 Jim Bridwell John Long Mark Klemens
Absolutely Free, Left Side 1970 Jim Bridwell Bev Johnson Mark Klemens
Abstract Corner 1971 Jim Bridwell
Aquarian Wall 1971 Jim Bridwell Kim Schmitz
Big Chill, The 1987 Jim Bridwell Peter Mayfield Sean Plunkett Steve Bosque
Bob Locke Memorial Buttress 1978 Jim Bridwell Ron Kauk John Long Kim Schmitz
Bongs Away, Left 1970 Jim Bridwell
Braille Book, The 1966 Jim Bridwell Chris Fredericks Brian Berry
Bushido 1977 Jim Bridwell Dale Bard
Butterfingers 1971 Jim Bridwell Charley Jones
Catchy Corner 1974 Jim Bridwell Dale Bard
Central Pillar of Frenzy 1973 Jim Bridwell Roger Breedlove Ed Barry John Long Billy Westbay Ron Fawcett
Cheek 1972 Jim Bridwell
Chosen Few, The 1971 Jim Bridwell Mark Klemens
Church Bowl Terrace 1965 Jim Bridwell Hamish Mutch
Commitment 1966 Jim Bridwell Dave Bircheff Phil Bircheff
Crucifix, The 1973 Jim Bridwell Kevin Worall 1985 Peter Croft
Easy Street 1972 Jim Bridwell
Elevator Shaft 1965 Jim Bridwell Phil Bircheff
Free Blast 1975 Jim Bridwell John Long Kevin Worrall Mike Graham John Bachar Ron Kauk
Freestone (Geek Towers, Left Side) 1974 Jim Bridwell Ron Kauk Dale Bard
Geek Towers, Center Route 1974 Jim Bridwell John Syrett
Geek Towers, Left Side (Freestone) 1974 Jim Bridwell Ron Kauk Dale Bard
Goldrush 1972 Jim Bridwell Steve Wunsch Jim Donini
Gripper 1970 Jim Bridwell Bruce Kumph Mark Klemens
Hairline 1974 Jim Bridwell Kevin Worrall Dale Bard George Meyers
Hanging Teeth, The 1968 Jim Bridwell Vic Tishous
Heavy Metal and Tinker Toys 1998 Jim Bridwell Tyson Hausdoerffer Boulos Ayad
High Pressure 1972 Jim Bridwell John Bragg
Higher Cathedral Rock, East Face Route 1967 Jim Bridwell Chris Fredericks
Hotline 1973 Jim Bridwell Mark Chapman 1975 Ron Kauk John Bachar
Independent Route 1970 Jim Bridwell Mark Klemens
Mirage 1976 Jim Bridwell Kim Schmitz Jim Pettigrew
Outer Limits 1971 Jim Bridwell Jim Orey
Pacific Ocean Wall 1975 Jim Bridwell Billy Westbay Jay Fiske Fred East
Ramp of Deception 1971 Jim Bridwell
Sea of Dreams 1978 Jim Bridwell Dale Bard Dave Diegelman
Shadows 1989 Jim Bridwell Cito Kirkpatrick Charlie Row Billy Westbay
Shortcake 1971 Jim Bridwell Dale Bard
Sidetrack 1974 Jim Bridwell Dale Bard
Smoky Pillar 1973 Jim Bridwell George Meyers Vern Clevenger Larry Bruce
South Central 1967 Jim Bridwell Joe Faint
Stone Groove 1971 Jim Bridwell Galen Rowell
Tinkerbell, Right 1971 Jim Bridwell Kim Schmitz
Triple Direct 1969 Jim Bridwell Kim Schmitz
Tube, The 1974 Jim Bridwell Kevin Worrall Dale Bard George Meyers
Waverly Wafer 1970 Jim Bridwell Barry Bates Bev Johnson
Zenith 1978 Jim Bridwell Kim Schmitz
Zenyatta Mondatta 1981 Jim Bridwell Peter Mayfield Charlie Row
Absolutely Free, Right Side 1970 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Cartwheel 1971 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Catchy 1971 Jim Pettigrew Jim Bridwell Mark Klemens
Doggie Deviations 1968 Kim Schmitz Jim Bridwell
Eagle Feather 1974 John Long Jim Bridwell Kevin Worrall
Final Exam 1971 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Flake Off 1975 Bruce Pollock Jim Bridwell Jim Pettigrew Mark Klemens
Folly, The, Left Side 1964 Layton Kor Jim Bridwell
Geek Towers, Right Side 1971 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Jam Session 1971 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Juliette's Flake, Left Side 1965 Chuck Pratt Jim Bridwell
Klemens' Escape 1970 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Mental Block 1973 Dale Bard Jim Bridwell
Moby Dick, Ahab 1964 Frank Sacherer Jim Bridwell
Narrow Escape 1971 Peter Haan Jim Bridwell Mark Klemens
New Dimensions 1970 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell 1972 Barry Bates Steve Wunsch
On the Loose 1970 Kim Schmitz Jim Bridwell Rick Christiani
Pinky Paralysis 1975 John Bachar Jim Bridwell
Plumb Line 1974 Dale Bard Jim Bridwell Kevin Worrall
Snake Dike 1965 Eric Beck Jim Bridwell Chris Fredericks
Steppin' Out 1971 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Straight Error 1973 Mark Chapman Jim Bridwell
This and That 1972 Jim Donini Jim Bridwell
Verde 1975 Bruce Pollock Jim Bridwell Jim Pettigrew
Wheat Thin 1971 Peter Haan Jim Bridwell
Edge of Night 1967 Chris Fredericks Rich Doleman Jim Bridwell
Vain Hope 1970 Royal Robbins Kim Schmitz Jim Bridwell
Entrance Exam 1965 Chuck Pratt Chris Fredericks Larry Marshaik Jim Bridwell
Basket Case 1972 Jim Donini TM Herbert 1972 Mark Klemens Jim Bridwell
Good Book, The (Right Side of the Folly) 1968 Warren Harding Tom Fender 1973 Dale Bard Jim Bridwell Kevin Worrall Ron Kauk
Middle Cathedral Rock, North Buttress 1954 Warren Harding Frank Tarver Craig Holden John Whitmer 1964 Frank Sacherer Jim Bridwell
Phantom Pinnacle, Left Side (Regular Route) 1950 Bill Dunmire Joe Faint 1976 Mike Graham Roger Breedlove Jim Bridwell

Apr 11, 2005 - 11:23am PT

Sh-it I missed the whole thing. I left just when they were starting. I went over to the lodge to get something and when I came back Bridwell had that funny look on his face when I asked him WTF happened to you.
bruce ostler

Trad climber
new york city, ny
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2005 - 03:25pm PT
kathy, lovely story. right now we're looking for any and all stories, picutres etc of and about bridwell and his cronies.

if more people could tale a few minutes to think before they type, we'll have an abundance of great stories. i'd love to use them all if we can.

ed, thank you for the info from the data base, is that info considered accurate by concensus???

please keep the stories coming.

many thanks.

bruce ostler


Trad climber
the inside
Apr 11, 2005 - 06:49pm PT
hey LARGO,

What about the story of the lunatic helicopter ride to angel falls, and the pilots girlfriend in some sort of lycra zebra suit and.....

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 11, 2005 - 07:04pm PT
Wow, Kath, thanks for sharing that story from the golden age! And for the hints about the other stories that you chose not to publish.

> ed, thank you for the info from the data base,
> is that info considered accurate by concensus???
Ed didn't actually say what the info was, but it is mostly First Ascents, with the last 4 routes being First Free Ascents (Free Blast is also a FFA). The list looks pretty accurate; one possibly notable omission is the FFA of the Stoveleg cracks on the Nose in 1968 with Jim Stanton. Too bad it's not a story, though :-) . Jim Bridwell also climbed in other areas, of course. Some of his early climbs included 15 FAs and FFAs at Pinnacles National Monument in the 1961-65 time period (mostly in 1965). There is a nice chronological list of his climbs in the original biography. I suspect that he has done so many climbs over so many years, that almost anyone would have trouble remembering individual climbs and stories at this point!

I don't have any real stories to share, but he did give the funniest slideshow that I ever saw. It was after one of his first trips to Patagonia, where the plan was to do a new route with Mike Graham [edit - thanks, Werner] and Bachar, but he ended up doing the 2nd or 3rd ascent of Cerro Torre with Steve Brewer. Of course the main events were (1) burying all his gear in a snow cave, and then not being able to retrieve the gear after it snowed 10 feet and so his partners left, and then (2) summiting on Cerro Torre with a partner who was just treking through the area, on borrowed gear and taking a 50 meter fall on the descent when a borrowed hammer sling parted. But the funniest part was when he showed a slide of an Italian climber at base camp, waiting out the bad weather with a sad look on his face. "When we looked at Marcelo [sic], we understood why he was a climber - he was so ugly that he decided to die!!"

Apr 11, 2005 - 08:01pm PT
Not Kauk but Mike Graham and Bachar. They left for reasons I will not say here. Ask Mike for that, or John.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 11, 2005 - 09:06pm PT
I provided a part of the database, it is based on a set of literature on climbs in Yosemite Valley noted as First Ascents and First Free Ascents. There are other climbs which may rise to noteriety but are not FAs or FFAs, such as the Stovelegs on the Nose, which has a very interesting history and a set of stories all on its own but does not appear in the climbing literature I used for compiling the list.

I posted the list here to make sure that the community had a chance to respond if anything was missing... I can provide the documentary information easily if it is desirable.

I also believe that Jim Bridwell's contribution to climbing is considerably larger than a list of first ascents in Yosemite Valley.. even as notable as some of those climbs are.. however, he would still be a giant were those climbs the only legacy he left, in my opinion.

Roger called for a story for each climb, and Roger has to produce for the few he FA'd or FFA'd with Jim... how about it Roger?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 11, 2005 - 11:04pm PT
Hey Clint, it's an interesting question that you raise about Freeblast... right now it is the start of the Salathe Wall, but was it the original start? just a thought as I don't know the story of the FFA.

Apr 11, 2005 - 11:10pm PT
Ed that was

Free Blast (free to Mammoth) freed by Jim Bridwell, John Long, Kevin Worrall, Mike Graham, John Bachar, and Ron Kauk, 5/75

They doctored the original.

Social climber
The West
Apr 12, 2005 - 01:37am PT
Once at a Bridwell slide show he said, "I think my best contributions to climbing were the chalkbag, and quickdraw."
always wondered about that.
To me, personally, the helpful advice he gave me (an anonymous noob, then hopeless kid, (now hopeless old guy)) in passing, at various locals, (mostly yosemite) about bottle taping, head bashing, ascender rigging, route beta, rotodrill tips, general encouragement and more, is only surpassed by the routes of his I had availible to cut my climbing teeth on; Aquarius, 1096, Nabisco Wall, Freestone, Mental Block, the catchy's, the good book, Plumbline, steppin' out, Snake Dike, New Dimensions, Hotline? and many others. Now there is a climbing curicullum.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 12, 2005 - 01:38pm PT
Yes, the Free Blast pitches are essentially the same as the original Salathe' Wall pitches (to Mammoth Ledge). There might be some slight deviation in pitches 5 and 6. If you look at the photos in The Vertical World of Yosemite and in Royal Robbins: Spirit of the Age, they match the free pitches. I don't know the full story, sorry. I remember seeing something in Mountain magazine at the time about bolts added, then chopped and replaced. But I don't remember much and I don't have the magazines to look it up.

Trad climber
Apr 12, 2005 - 01:49pm PT
There is a great picture of Bridwell climbing on Mt. Everest with a butt hanging out of his mouth in Snow in the Kingdom by Ed Webster. You might want to contact Ed about the rights.

Social climber
The West
Apr 14, 2005 - 04:40pm PT
Okay, I 'get' the Danny Trejo comparison now.

Big Wall climber
Lake Arrowhead
Apr 14, 2005 - 05:32pm PT

I’ve always liked Jim’s abrasive personality. Of course, I only read about this legend of a man before I actually met him.

We were fresh off the boat and everything about us had a green hue to it. I had climbed El Cap one other time and hopefully this would be my brother, Gabe’s first trip up the Big Stone.

We were racking-up and getting prepared for the wall next to El Cap Meadow. Gabe gets my attention and quietly nods in the direction across the street, “Check it out bro, that’s Jim Bridwell”.

Jim was talking in the shade of a tree with some friends, Werner and Mary – whom I had not met yet. Jim had an old beater pick-up truck with a bumper sticker that read: “Your WORST nightmare is my BEST vacation.”

We were busy making a bosuns chair out of a thick piece of wood we bootied from Oakhurst. We rigged a back rest and even a leg rest. Jim meandered across the street and with a menacing point of his finger he commands, “Let me take a look at that”.

We hand over the chair without saying a word. The Bird examined it for a few seconds and then announces, “It ain’t LIGHT…. is IT?”

It was more of a comment than a question. He handed it back to us as we chuckled and gave a brief, “No, I guess not”

We were fools to think we would get away from Jim’s wrath so easily. His next comment has been of great amusement and humor for years following.

“You know boys… Those chairs are for PUSSIES, real MEN hang in their harness and don’t need to be comfortable.”

Jim wanders off, Gabe and I look at each other with wide eyes, trying not to burst out with hysterical laughter.

We finished making the chair and started looking around for options to test it out on. The tree that Jim was under would have been perfect but we wanted to avoid another hazing. So, we looped it over the top of the forty-five degree corner on a sign next to the bridge. The thin sheet metal threatened to bend over and send you to the ground.

A few minutes of testing went by when Werner shows up and gives us a nod. He doesn’t say a word but motions to the chair. Uh oh, here we go again, I thought.

Werner sat in the chair, he even tried out the foot rest. I watched suspiciously at the corner of the sign, praying that it would hold. Werner then got out of the chair and shook his head up and down with a semi-approval look. He walked away without saying a word the entire time. We had no idea at the time, why.

On our approach to the wall we had a good laugh about the whole scene. We immediately named the chair, “Pussy’s Chair” and made sure we referred to it by the correct name to get a good laugh out of each other.

A few years later I had gotten to know Jim better. I learned that he “says it like it is” and you just can’t take it personal. He would say some classic “one liners” that had me rolling, like:

“What… are you NEW?”

Jim asked me once while we were walking up the trail to El Cap and didn’t veer off on the short-cut.
I’ll never forget watching the First Ascent of Heavy Metal being put up. Jim would sit in the shade of a tree, drinking beer. Tyson and Bulos were pushing the first couple of pitches. If Jim saw something he didn’t like he would come running out from under the tree and yell:

“Hey, NO drilling!!, you can hook there”….. or,

“See that nubbin? Sling it, Sling the nubbin.”

“It keeps coming off”, Bulos replied.

“WELL then, put your THUMB on it”, Bridwell said with a tone of normality to it.

The vision of that comment left me both gripped and amused. If it actually worked, I guess that would leave him with one arm for the next placement.


Big Wall climber
Lake Arrowhead
Apr 15, 2005 - 03:43am PT

Bridwell and Ivo in Red Rocks. He's either looking at me like "Get that DAMN camera outta my face."
Or, "Whatiya NEW?" Maybe, BOTH....

Bridwell and The Twins


Apr 15, 2005 - 11:52am PT
One day Bridwell and I were walking along when Jim spots this aluminum dowel stock on the ground. He picks it up and says “this will make good rivet ladder material.”

Some time later [months?] Dale and Mark Chapman want to try the first ascent of what is now the Horse Chute on El cap. They ask Jim if he has any stock to make rivet ladders. Jim hands them that ¼ inch dowel that he found a while back. They cut it up into the right lengths and off they go.

We monitor their progress one morning and notice they are bailing! Jim says lets go to the base and see what’s up. We arrive at the base and meet up with Dale and Mark. Jim asks what happened. They tell us how the aluminum dowel stock that Jim gave them slowly bends 45% and the tie-off starts to slip off while standing on it.

Jim drills and tests one at the base …….yes your right …. Aluminum too soft, WTF!!!!
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