Climbing Legend Jim Bridwell Passes to the Great Cliff Beyond
Jim Bridwell, one of the legendary hard rock greats, passed on to the great cliff in the sky on February 16, 2018, from complications of hepatitis C at age 73. Jim was hard-partying, hard-climbing, and the ultimate tough-guy. They probably coined the word "bad-ass" to describe Jim. Bridwell was an iconic Yosemite climber, putting up over 100 routes in Yosemite Valley, including routes on El Capitan like the Triple Direct (1969), Aquarian Wall (1971), Pacific Ocean Wall (1975), Sea of Dreams (1978), Dark Star (1999), and Welcome to Afghanistan (2001).
Here's a photo I shot of Jim at Layton Kor's memorial service in Kingman, AZ in May, 2013. Jim came over with Todd Gordon to remember Layton.
One time, I think it was in the late fall of 2000, Bridwell visited Jimmie Dunn and me in Colorado Springs. One day we went down to Shelf Road for some sport climbing at Cactus Cliff. Late in the afternoon, a young women took a leader fall on a nearby route and injured her leg. The pair of Jims went over, made a seat with their hands, and carried her back to the parking lot and her car so her friend could take her to the Canon City hospital. She didn't know who those two older guys were that carried her out! We had a good laugh about that later. That evening I came into the house and found the two Jims, each stretched out on a sofa and both sound asleep. Too much excitement I guess.
A couple years before that, Jim was at the Phoenix Bouldering Contest at Oak Flat in Arizona. One night a bunch of folks were standing around a big campfire. Jim Waugh, the comp organizer, was next to me. At one point, a younger fella, who had too much beer in his belly, said a somewhat disparaging remark about Bridwell's wife. I don't think he realized that big Jim was standing there. Jim stepped across the fire and laid that dude out with one straight-arm punch to the face. And that was the end of that.
Jim Bridwell sips wine from a plastic tumbler and visits at Layton Kor's memorial service in Kingman, Arizona, in May, 2013. Photo @ Stewart M. Green