VIDEO/PHOTOS: John Bachar Passes

John Bachar: 1957 – 2009

photo
John Bachar © Karl Baba


The Dike Wall, Mammoth Lakes, Sarah Schneider climbing. © Mick Ryan © various authors
The Dike Wall, Mammoth Lakes, Sarah Schneider climbing. © Mick Ryan
© various authors

John Bachar fell whilst soloing at the Dike Wall, Mammoth Lakes, California yesterday (5th July) and was found at the base of the cliff. Some nearby climbers came to his aid, he was transported by Mono Search and Rescue to the local hospital in Mammoth Lakes where he later died. He leaves a son, Tyrus. John was 52.

The Dike Wall is a beautiful cliff of pristine granite situated at 9,000ft above Mammoth Lakes where John lived with his son. John was climbing by himself and was found at the base of the 80ft North Wall.

You can offer your condolences at this Supertopo forum thread: John Bachar - In memory of a great man 1957 – 2009

John Bachar is an American and World climbing legend and was fierce proponent of ground up climbing.

John lived in Mammoth Lakes, California in the heart of the Sierra Nevada and was Director of Design of Acopa International, a rock shoe company, www.acopausa.com

John is legend in world climbing for many things. His 1981 first ascent of the beautiful Bachar-Yerian up the 150 metre (500 ft) main face of Medlicot Dome in Tuolumne Meadows was established from the ground up placing just 13 bolts hanging from hooks.

John Bachar - July 2008 Interview Extract from Dave Gill on Vimeo.

In 1986, with the Canadian Peter Croft (photo), they linked up the Nose on El Cap and the Regular Route on Half Dome in 14 hours. Bachar, like Pete Livesey in the UK, was a pioneer in training for climbing and developed his signature, Bachar Ladder which was adopted by climbers such as Jerry Moffat and Wolfgang Gullich.

Long before bouldering was popular John was establishing highballs such as Planet X (V6) and So High (V5) in Joshua Tree without a bouldering mat. The committing crux move of So High is 25 feet off the ground. Many Yosemite boulder problems bear John's signature, including in 1978 with Ron Kauk the first ascents of Midnight Lightning a highball V8 first envisioned through an LSD haze by John "Yabo" Yablonski (Yabo invented the sit down start!).

His solos include New Dimensions (5.11a) and The Nabisco Wall, a three-pitch affair that links Waverly Wafer (5.10c), Butterballs (5.11c) and Butterfingers (5.11a) and an onsight solo of The Moratorium, 5.11b, photographs of which graced the climbing magazines in the 1980's. In 1981 Bachar posted a note in Camp Four promising a "$10,000 reward for anyone who can follow me for one full day." No one took the challenge. He was a fierce and vocal critic of abseil/rap placed bolts to establish sport climbs.

John Bachar's UKClimbing.com profile with more information about the great man can be read here.

"I'm going to climb for the rest of my life"

John Bachar © Karl Baba © various authors
John Bachar © Karl Baba
© various authors
John Bachar © Karl Baba © various authors
John Bachar © Karl Baba
© various authors
John Bachar. © Werner Braun © various authors
John Bachar. © Werner Braun
© various authors
John Bachar, Mike Graham and Ron Kauk. © Mike Graham © various authors
John Bachar, Mike Graham and Ron Kauk. © Mike Graham
© various authors


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6 Jul, 2009
That footage of Crackattack is a masterclass in precise, controlled movement. He was a very special and pivotal climber. RIP John.
6 Jul, 2009
The thing that impressed me most about him was not just the truely astonishing climbing (he's probably appeared in the most ammount of photos where Ive starred mouth open in amazement trying to find the hidden rope...) but his committment to what he believed in. It was obviously exceptionally difficult for him to fight the corner for traditional climbing, at times what must have seen single-handledly, particularly at a time when his contemporaries using sport tactics suddenly "appeared" to be climbing several grades harder. But he didn't waver and stuck true to his vision of what climbing could be. A vision of climbing far beyond mere numbers and closer to a form of art where not only did he master the physical side of climbing but also the mental game to a level very few have ever reached. PS Is it just me or has the other thread been removed? If so could the thoughts of posters be transferred here please Mick/Alan?
6 Jul, 2009
Very sad. Seems crazy to have done the things he's done and fall somewhere as innocuous as Dike Wall. If someone came along today and claimed to have soloed half of the things that he'd done they'd be dismissed as a fantasist. I remember doing Moratorium and desperately trying to get my head around the idea that he had actually soloed it on sight. Unbelievable. RIP
6 Jul, 2009
It tends to a bit of a leveler. Very sad. RIP and condolences to his family.
6 Jul, 2009
September 1981. Every day at 5pm, a small crowd would gather around the east side of the Columbia boulder, a house-sized rock in the middle of Yosemite’s camp 4. Fingers were poised over shutters; there might be a couple of Japanese guys with a video camera. A figure would stride out of the woods, briefly clean his boots and climb. Precisely and securely, moves that were ludicrously hard but performed with utter precision and control. Was that a slight hesitation before the final mantle? A brief recognition of the ankle-twisting height? No just a subtle readjustment, then he bounded up the slabs and away. At the time, Midnight Lightening had been climbed by just two people; dozens more had spent weeks or months in futile effort. This blond god would climb it every day, in the middle of the climber’s campground in the most important climbing area in the world. The confidence! The arrogance! The crowd would slowly wander away. The locals would continue cooking, pretending badly not to have been watching all along. Two or three well-muscled individuals would resume their efforts with the same holds. But how could they be the same holds? It was like seeing a group of three year-olds trying to kick a football after witnessing Maradona.
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