Our Friday Night Video this week is Jim Bridwell in conversation with John Long. This interview would be Bridwell's last and the following day Bridwell, who was critically ill with Hepatitis C, passed into a coma. The video covers a controversial event in climbing history: Cesare Maestri's purported 1970 ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre, Patagonia and Bridwell's 1979 ascent of the route.
Hard to watch, especially knowing what happened the following day. John Long did a good job of gently but firmly questioning him. I'd rather remember him in that classic photo of him Westbay and Long in the meadow after their one day ascent of The Nose. Or the brilliant B+W photo looking down on him guiding a stretcher down El Cap in a dramatic rescue. His account of Sea of Dreams is a great read too: https://rockandice.com/snowball/24307/
Excellent. Thanks for those - I love his slightly circuitous writing style - little gems strung together. I think that came through in the interview, which I just took as a window in time, rather than a view of the future.
> ... His account of Sea of Dreams is a great read too: https://rockandice.com/snowball/24307/
"At the age of 32 I had naturally evolved into a father figure to some and was obliged to represent sound values. There’s a fine line between boldness and stupidity, and prudence and cowardice. I was there to help define the line. I had seen too many young climbers fall prey to self-glorification. It is inevitably fatal, but then so is life."
And this, which sums up the era pretty well...
> I awoke early to the hum of the earth’s solar engine (...) I had just come onto the initial effects of a mild dose of a hypothropic agent when the tell-tale repetition of a hammer hitting the drill signaled that something was awry (...)
Two favorite parts:
Something falls off the roof. Bridwell pauses mid-sentence, says "Avalanche" as if the conversation is in a tent on a portaledge on a mountainside, and continues his sentence unphased. Priceless.
Also priceless: his refusal to throw Maestri under the bus despite Largo setting that up several times.
A true mensch. RIP.
> Also priceless: his refusal to throw Maestri under the bus despite Largo setting that up several times.
I liked that a lot. I remember Maestri giving a talk at Buxton?? sometime around 1976 (I remember we bivied below Stanage and it snowed. At least I think it was below Stanage...
Anyway, in spite of the controversy, his talk about his earlier climbing went over very well and he got a ton of applause. It was quite moving.