I had this filed away for a while. Bridwell telling about the FA of 1096 with Long intro. Contra to JL, I thought it was pretty reasonable at 10d and a hell of a lot easier than Ahab at 10b.
John Long: “First ascent of 1096 (which is police code for maniac on the loose)was made by Mark Klemons, Bridwell and myself and we rated it 5.11 at the time. I think that 5.10D rating is one of the great sandbags in the Valley. I was just a kid back then but I could barely do it on a top rope. I had an easier time on Hangdog Flyer, which is just next door.
"That evening at camp a friend, Phil Gleason, stopped by and suggested that I have a try at a new route he'd been working on. Fed up with it himself, he offered me the route. As we talked, I could see the keen interest in John's eyes, so suggested that he might come along with Mark Klemens, my usual partner, and me - if he wanted. Without hesitation he grabbed at the chance.
The next morning I was awakened by the drumming of John's pacing feet outside my tent. We threw some gear into a pack and walked to the coffee shop. We were too lazy to make something for ourselves, it was free because the waitress lusted for me as I did for her. After breakfast John still looked confused about the payment of the bill as we rode the shuttle bus toward the climb. The bus took us to the Ahwahnee Hotel, only a short walk from the route. Within a few minutes we stood at the base. As foretold, the flake arched above, leaning and overhanging. We drew stones and Klemens won the lead.
Mark's skills in flaring, overhanging offwidths were beyond reproach and John watched with awe at each precise movement. The flake leaned increasingly until the last eight feet, where it shot out horizontally. A young John Long sat next to me, totally confused as to a solution to this final bit. I'd analyzing the problem since our arrival and had come up with the answer but merely said to John, "You'll see." Klemens showed incredible control while working hard to place protection. John fidgeted nervously. Mark tried again and again to get something in before the crux. A bong would be his preference as he disdained the new fangled nuts, as yet in their evolutionary infancy. He reached to the rack, selected a large I-beam-shaped contraption and announced with typical Klemens' cynicism, "You know I'm desperate now." After using considerable energy fiddling with it, to no avail, he threw it to the ground, cursing. Nearly spent, Mark finally managed to secure a bong, but without the strength to carry on, he lowered to the deck.
My turn. Mark had set it up for me, having done all the hard work of placing the protection. All I had to do was climb and clip. I climbed up to the high point at the crux. John made the mistake of looking away as I slipped quickly through the tricky sequence. I'd gotten to reasonable fist jams, swung down, reached out and pinched the edge of the flake, pulled into a lieback and was resting before the boy from So. Cal. looked up again.
John was outspoken, to say the least but only because he could usually back up his words with action. He started using the pure brute strength of his powerful arms, his feet flailing for purchase. Through the echo chamber of the flake, I could hear his locomotive breathing, amplified. Once again he was desperate, but his great heart and the desire of his ego kept him afloat. He'd thrashed and struggled to the crux, but now hadn't a clue. His life signs ebbed as I shouted down instructions which he followed to the letter. A hand flashed to the finned edge of the flake and his head and torso popped into view, gasping for air. A few power pulls and he'd done it.
"Good job, man!"
John would affectionately become known as Largo to his friends, and he would share many great adventures - the Nose in a day, the crossing of Borneo and others - but I'll never forget those first two days.
There were others I met when they first came, Ron Kauk, Werner Braun, Lynn Hill, Maria Cranor and many more. They were children when I first knew them."
Jim Bridwell, "Climbing Adventures, A Climber's Passion." pp. 206-208