UKC

Jim Bridwell dies aged 73

© Pat Ament (CC BY-SA 4.0)

US big wall climbing pioneer Jim Bridwell has passed away aged 73 in California following a period of illness. In January Jim was diagnosed with kidney failure and Hepatitis C and a crowdfunding campaign was launched by his son, Layton, to assist with the medical expenses. A legend of the Golden Age of climbing in Yosemite and beyond, Jim's achievements included over 100 first ascents in the Valley, most notably Sea of Dreams on El Capitan and the first one-day ascent of the Nose in 1975 with Billy Westbay and John Long.

Jim Bridwell visits the Salt Lake trade show, about 1990.  © Pat Ament (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Jim Bridwell visits the Salt Lake trade show, about 1990.
© Pat Ament (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Jim's family beilieve that the Hepatitis C was likely contracted from a tattoo inked by a headhunter in 1983 during the first crossing of Borneo. The fundraising campaign reached $37,896 of its $50,000 goal and received widespread support from the global climbing community.

Through cutting-edge ascents in both aid and free climbing style, Jim became a stalwart of the Yosemite Valley scene and eventually founded YOSAR, a Yosemite Search and Rescue service carried out by climbers. Jim eventually took his big wall skills to the peaks of Patagonia and Alaska, where he made the first ascent of Dance of the Woo Li Masters on the East face of the Moose's Tooth. He also wrote articles, a book Climbing Adventures: A Climber's Passion and invented climbing gear such as bird beaks and copperheads.

Jim Bridwell  © Supertopo
Jim Bridwell
© Supertopo

Jim Bridwell - A Climbing C.V.

1963 Northeast Buttress, Higher Cathedral Rock, Yosemite, CA, USA
1964 North Buttress 5.10a, Middle Cathedral Rock, first free ascent
1965 Entrance Exam, Arch Rock, Yosemite, CA, USA con Chuck Pratt, Chris Fredericks and Larry Marshik
1967 East Face, Higher Cathedral Rock, Yosemite, CA, USA with Chris Fredericks
1967 South Central, Washington Column, Yosemite, CA, USA with Joe Faint
1968 T-riple Direct, El Capitan, Yosemite, CA, USA with Kim Schmitz
1970 New Dimensions, Arch Rock, Yosemite, CA, USA with Mark Klemens
1970 Vain Hope, Ribbon Falls, Yosemite, CA, USA with Royal Robbins and Kim Schmitz
1971 Aquarian Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite, CA, USA with Kim Schmitz
1972 Nabisco Wall, The Cookie, Yosemite, CA, USA
1973 Straight Error, Elephant Rock
1974 Freestone, Geek Towers, Yosemite Falls, Yosemite, CA, USA
1975 Wailing Wall, Tuolumne Meadows, CA, USA (2nd 5.12 in the USA) with Dale Bard and Rick Accomozo
1975 Pacific Ocean Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite, CA, USA with Bill Westbay, Jay Fiske and Fred East
1976 Gold Ribbon, Ribbon Falls, Yosemite, CA, USA with Mike Graham
1977 Bushido, Half Dome, Yosemite, CA, USA with Dale Bard
1978 Sea of Dreams, El Capitan, Yosemite, CA, USA with Dale Bard and Dave Diegelman
1978 Zenith, Half Dome, Yosemite, CA, USA with Kim Schmitz
1979 Southeast Ridge del Cerro Torre (Compressor route), Patagonia, Argentina with Steven Brewer (first ascent in Alpine style of Cerro Torre)
1979 Northwest Face, Kichatna Spire, Alaska Range, USA with Andrew Embick
1981 Zenyatta Mondatta, El Capitan, Yosemite, CA, USA with Peter Mayfield and Charlie Row
1981 Dance of the Woo Li Masters, East Face of The Moose's Tooth, Ruth Gorge, Alaska, USA with Mugs Stump
1982 South Face, Pumori, Nepal with Jan Reynolds and Ned Gilette (winter)
1987 The Big Chill, Half Dome, Yosemite, CA, USA with Peter Mayfield, Sean Plunkett and Steve Bosque
1988 Exocet VI 5.9 WI6, East Face Cerro Stanhardt, Patagonia with Greg Smith, Jay Smith
1989 Shadows VI 5.10 A5, Half Dome, with Cito Kirkpatrick, Charles Row, William Westby
1989 West Face (VI 5.11b), El Capitan (free ascent)
1999 Oddysey, Gran Capucin, Mont Blanc, Fnech Alps with Giovani Groaz
1999 The Useless Emotion (VII 5.9 WI4 A4), The Bear's Tooth, Ruth Glacier, Alaska, USA with Terry Christensen, Glenn Dunmire, Brian Jonas and Brian McCray May 3-21, 1999
2001 The Beast Pillar, The Moose's Tooth, Ruth Gorge, Alaska, USA with Spencer Pfinsten

Read a tribute to Jim by Duane Raleigh on Rock & Ice.


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16 Feb, 2018

THE Main Man.

Pioneering, prolific, brave and a legacy of awe-inspiring climbs.

“we did a good job up there”

Yes you did, always.

Rest easy Jim. 

16 Feb, 2018

That's a shame.

 

Met him once when he was guiding and he was a really nice guy.

16 Feb, 2018

Impressive guy....proper old school, RIP Jim...

17 Feb, 2018

When I saw Valley Uprising as I was getting into climbing I was completely blown away by what the guy was all about. An absolute legend. 

17 Feb, 2018

Legend. RIP 

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