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Upcoming Book on the Incredible Billy Davidson

Billy Davidson on Yamnuska in early 1970s Photo Urs Kallen

For the past 15 years, Gripped editor Brandon Pullan has been working on a book about the late climber and paddler, Billy Davidson.

Billy was one of Canada’s most cutting-edge climbers in the 1970s with first ascents of routes such as CMC Wall and Yellow Edge on Yamnuska, Nine Nightmarish Nights on Nothing on Gibraltor Mountain, and the fourth ascent of North America Wall on El Capitan.

Pullan has spent the better part of the past decade piecing Billy’s life together, including the 30 years he spent as a hermit on the west coast, where he became a much-loved painter and a legendary paddler.

With hundreds of journal entries from when Billy was in high school to his final days, the book will be an insight into one of the most interesting figures in western Canada over the past 50 years.

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Nine Nightmarish Nights on Nothing probably doesn’t ring a bell for most climbers. The 650-metre grade VI 5.8 A4 was the first route up the north face of Gibraltar Mountain in the Misty Range in Kananaskis Country. The first ascent was by the late Billy Davidson and Jim White in July 1971 and took nine days.

Billy Davidson on Yamnuska in early 1970s Photo Urs Kallen
Billy Davidson on Yamnuska in early 1970s Photo Urs Kallen

Here is an excerpt from the story about the ascent by Davidson, “The weather was always bad. Snow, storms, lightning, rain, cold winds, belay from pits and jackets, and all this on a north face which got the sun only a couple of hours a day. Below us the route stood out in bold relief. What’s all that stuff about dropping something from the top and that’s the line to take.

“Forget that, just follow the droppings, that’s the line we took. I won’t bother with the usual trivia about how we nailed this, freed that, jammed this, squeezed that, bolted here, bolted there and generally screwed around everywhere. If you want to know what it’s like do the damn thing!”

The book is being published by Rocky Mountain Books.