Bouldering history by John Gill


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john hansen

Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 24, 2008 - 09:53pm PT
Not sure if this has been posted before,,

There are eight pages you can access if you scroll to the bottom
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Aug 24, 2008 - 10:01pm PT
Very, very cool John Hansen. I am going to try and get that book.

Was that bachar in the straw hat ?

Social climber
My Inner Nut
Aug 25, 2008 - 12:08am PT
Bump for my first sense of true awe in climbing - the little white arrow...

Unmitigated failure is the taste.

Aug 25, 2008 - 12:42am PT
He hasn't written a book, that is just a very detailed website. Tons of cool info.

Another cool page on John's site.

Also, some interesting names at the bottom of this page.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Aug 25, 2008 - 12:47am PT
Thanks Flashlite,

So he has not written this or put the pics in book form if I understand you correctly. Too bad, I'm trying to collect as many climbing related books by people like J. Gill etc. as I can for my families future gen. and our library.


Aug 25, 2008 - 01:13am PT
No, he hasn't and I am not sure he ever will. He does put a lot of time into his site though.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Social climber
valley center, ca
Aug 25, 2008 - 01:16am PT
Well, thanks for the info. I will let my family know to check his site out. Always appreciate the great info on the history of climbing... Great Night, Lynne

Social climber
My Inner Nut
Aug 25, 2008 - 01:17am PT
Our own Jstan captured this moment of early anti-gravity sequencing:

jaw drops

Trad climber
Lancaster, PA
Aug 25, 2008 - 12:24pm PT
Yes, John's site is fascinating...IMO, one of the best climbing history resources on the web. I had the pleasure to climb with John a couple years ago...he's still fit, strong, and moves like a master. At age 70, ironically, he eschews dynamic moves, lest he risk another bicep tear or shoulder injury.

Here are a few recent pix of the Master...

right here, right now
Aug 25, 2008 - 12:52pm PT
He don't look a day over 52.

Mountain climber
San Diego
Aug 25, 2008 - 03:54pm PT
I've got to say there must be something to climbing and staying physically and mentally fit into the later years.

John Gill case in point.

Bouldering and doing math problems must be the answer, and relating what you've learned to others. Fantastic. Inspirational.

I'm sure he even gets younger women checking him out. Now, that is the true measure whether you have found the fountain of youth.

Aug 26, 2008 - 01:40am PT
Dad and John around the campfire at Rock Creek near Bishop. One of the few times I have just sat there and listened. :)


Social climber
My Inner Nut
Sep 15, 2008 - 12:28am PT
Bump for a true legend of climbing
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Sep 9, 2018 - 03:09pm PT
More bump!

Tons of pics and stuff that will blow your minds.

Boulder climber
Sep 9, 2018 - 11:10pm PT
Maybe dumb question, but did Gill climb those campground boulders in Rock Creek Canyon?

Trad climber
Sep 10, 2018 - 12:21am PT
Ya know, I can't really understand V12 or V15 for that matter. I've played with the holds and it is incredible that folks have had the skill to pull off these feats. Pre "good rubber" whatever.

Understanding how to use the body in such a way that really negates the need really for modern shoes and the feeling that I need this shoe or that is remarkable (I have no other way to say it).

I wish that I had these gifts or I can learn these gifts which the later I can't. I can only challenge myself in the endless quest to match or come close to something I know is beyond reach.

Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Sep 10, 2018 - 12:45pm PT
John was the best climber anywhere, in his day. Injuries and perhaps also that he already had climbed so much, and he did not ever much push or approach his limits afterward. Nor did he feel the need to. People often talk about bouldering with Gill in later years (after about 1978), but that would not give them a clue as to what his ability was. In his fit days, the early, mid, and later 1960's, he was truly incredible. I will also add, however, that I don't believe John ever even then really pushed his limits. He climbed quite comfortably on most things that would thoroughly challenge the best of the best. Once in a while he pushed, in order to get some problem or rock face that captured his interest, often with a bad landing (no pads). It wasn't too often he went beyond himself, so to speak, if he ever did. Had he pushed harder, taken as many falls, made as many attempts, as many do now, the standard he set would have been much higher. People also don't realize how good his technique, balance, and footwork were. He was always a true artist. He did no-hand routes the best climbers couldn't do using feet and hands. If you think you're the new wave, try doing one-finger pulls on any of the first two fingers of either hand. Try doing a one-finger, one-arm front lever. Sit on the floor and climb a 20 feet rope in 3.4 seconds. His technique was something else, in addition to his strength, and it's hard to give anyone an idea. For quite a few years I watched and learned from that technique. It was the best of any climber I knew. I'm sure John will argue some of this, because he has always been very humble and always given other good climbers their due.

Sport climber
Sep 10, 2018 - 12:49pm PT

He did no-hand routes the best climbers couldn't do using feet and hands.

I have no doubt about John Gill being ahead of his time, but there's limits even to legend to be believable... ^^^^

There's only one way those words can give sense to me, that's if you're talking about a free-running/parkour way of climbing...

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 10, 2018 - 02:03pm PT
John had a no-hands route on Falling Ant Slab at Jenny Lake that I thought was about 5.10b with hands (I couldn't come close to doing it no-hands).

Sep 10, 2018 - 04:34pm PT
Thank you, Pat, for the kind comments (and those of you too young, Pat would float up his masterpieces BITD!)

I was no better at no-hands problems that my bouldering companions of that time: Pat, Rich, Kamps, Cleveland, Higgins, Rearick, Robbins, Chouinard, Beckey and others. And I had to jump off that Falling Ant thing on first attempt - a painful experience that almost ended in Jenny Lake.

When Yvon and I would go to the local rocks in the Tetons in the 1950s he would tell me I was "bouldering", an expression I assumed Californians had come up with. It wasn't until I started researching the origins of the sport in the early 2000s that I came across the word bouldering in literature from Great Britain from the 1880s.

For several years I researched aspects of rock climbing history, focusing on bouldering, ordering books from obscure sellers and visiting the AAC library in Golden once a month. Kerwin (Klein) gave me a few ideas and links, but my efforts were those of an amateur, and not having an historian's perspective I chose to let climbers from those distant times speak for themselves.

It was great fun.
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