I remember driving all the way out to Fort Collins in the early 1970s to meet JB and go on a grand bouldering tour and try and pick off as many Gill problems as we could. Back then, nobody drove from Yosemite to Colorado to go bouldering - but we did.
John was so stoked that he´d wired all the stuff at Horsetooth Res. and could give me perfect beta. Then it was off to Pueblo where we actually met Gill and he gave us the most fantastic guided tour. Bachar could basically climb anything back then, and his free soloing was off the charts. He was the best, and anyone who saw him on the sharp end knew they were watching something rare, a real trad master.
Sh#t, I´m rambling, but it does some good to write what I can.
Like I said earlier, they better get the lead out upstairs because a legend is on his way, and he won´t be sitting around up there, neither.
the end of the world as we know it, & I feel fine.
Jul 6, 2009 - 12:26am PT
A Love Supreme... what a wonderful album... I'm breaking it out right now.... it's comforting to know he grokked the spirit of that Coltrane classic... what a spirit he was while here... and will be where he's going.
I'm just stunned. John always seemed to have such mastery in his climbing that I could never imagine him going out this way.
A car accident, maybe...........but not soloing. Not John.
His impact on climbing was so massive I can't imagine anyone else filling his shoes. From his introduction of bringing sticky rubber shoes to the states, to his stance on ethics, his goofy clothing style (sometimes), his committement to soloing etc..
His legacy is huge and we have lost someone we'll never see or find again. It's so sad. REminds me that you have to take those moments with people when you can because they may never come around again.
I'm shocked and saddened. John was a hero.
When Scott and I were getting ready in Camp 4 to climb Mescalito back in 77, John said, hey man, I'll come and play for you guys.
Late one afternoon high on the wall the sound of a sax came wafting up from the meadows. He was true to his word.
oh crap. we just got back from Mammoth oblivious to events. This is so sad. I hope that it helps that we're all thinking positive thoughts for the friends and family of John. I really appreciated all the folks that posted up for Brutus. It's not really fair that we return the favor in this convoluted way, but we know what it's like.
John was the guy that lived his dreams and thru those dreams we were inspired to be better.
I didn't know him personally, but I first saw John in person in the Gorge in the late 80s or early 90s. He was soloing Expressway, getting warmed up. He loved the Gorge, you could see it.
Many years later I got to meet him in person outside the confines of the climbing community at a show that his brother was playing at. (Positive vibe to ya man!) He was livened up at this show. Until I saw pics of on the taco of him smiling, I didn't think he smiled. At this show he was just kicking it enjoying the music. Got to shake his hand and chat a little about climbing and a little about music, but it was a cool moment.
Even later I found out what a cool cat he was. When I was trying to find a replacement boot for cracks he gave the dialed in beta for sizing the JBs. I thought I had too big, so sent them back, got the sligthly smaller size. Turns out they I should have stayed with the larger size. John, you were right.
John, thank you for the iconic imagery, the dreams, the style, oh damn yes, the style!
I'm glad I was climbing on pocketed east side volcanic stone today. Like medicine that needed to be taken.
I'm shocked, surprised, without words! Our freind JB and I spoke just recently about traveling to Italy to climb in the Dolomites! Exchanged stories of our expeirences eating Italian and wishing for another chance to indulge. Cherish the moments with those you love! Life is short. That was a great moment I spent with John on Wednesday! I'll struggle with this for some time as so we all will.
I just got off the phone with Dave Yerian. He is really busted up over this sad news. John meant so much to him as I'm sure he did to many of you out there. I didn't know John that well, but I surely had a grand respect for who he was. Dave said it well, It's not about the climbing accomplishments, it's about the community and John was big in both respects. Peace and Love to all of our community in these tough times.
Whoa- When I saw this thread earlier today, I thought it was some sort of strange joke, so I didn't bother to read. In my heart I cannot believe it. Really? Truly then, a legend has passed. He was always one of the greats I dared not even dream of aspiring to match. I don't know of any other year that has seen so many of our finest get taken too soon. There must be some epic project in the great beyond that requires a perfect mix of humor, equanimity, and hardman which only these passings can provide.
I’m devastated. When John was in Boulder for his slide show a few weeks ago, I got down a bottle of whisky and we stayed up most of the night, talking about old times, but also making plans for an snowboarding trip to Alaska next year.
We’ll never get to that trip, but I am grateful for the recent rekindling of our friendship, and for memories of past, shared adventures.
Never miss a chance to be with your friends and family.
Oh man...an icon. Tragic. The coming response from the climbing world will no doubt bear testimony to his greatness. Wish I could have met him. True condolences to his family and those who knew him well. The mountains will miss him.
I've said about as much as I can on the first thread. John and I just drove from Denver to Durango last week. The whole time he was leaned forward in his back seat listening, talking, laughing. We discussed his son, his plans, ideas, old climbs... everything.
Yesterday we talked for more than an hour on the phone about what he wanted to do with his life... he had cool personal business plans (outside of Acopa) that made complete sense and we scratched our heads together trying to work through the details.
I have been at a loss since the first echo of this story left Mammoth.
John... thanks man. You were a friend.
As I prepare for my elderly parents to move on I am reminded of a line from J.M. Barrie... a line that never fails to bring tears to my eyes... "Death will be an awfully big adventure."
John and I waiting to start the show last Saturday in Durango, Colorado.
John and I with Ian, the manager at Pine Needle Mountaineering in Durango. He and John met up for an hour of bouldering before the show.
I'm so saddened by this... Speechless, heavy heart. I feel for Tyrus.
On top of the sadness that continues to build over the loss of friends, I feel incredibly stupid right now... John and I started talking a lot when I discovered he was a funk and Prince fan. Since I know Prince personally, I gave John some super cool video and music that you can't purchase. He was totally stoked to get live stuff from Miles and Prince jamming together. He introduced me to some cool music I'd never heard.
John and I had talked a lot, planned photo shoot, after photo shoot and something always came up and we never got together to shoot. First he was in his car accident, then I bailed on him to hang out with a chick for the weekend, then the weather killed it a few times, then.... We'd planned on shooting this fall tho, when temps cooled down on the East Side.
I wish I'd canceled other things, made it happen. I wish I had some photos to go with the memories I have of the times we hung out. I wish I'd have just shot some candids while we hung out. I wish I had those photos to go with some of the killer music John had given me. I wish.....
John Bachar has been a constant in my life ever since Jimmy Dunn told me about the guy who was "...the world's best free climber...", back in about 1974. Meeting John in Eldo a couple years later and sharing a rope with him on a FFA, I experienced first hand the power of a mind/body/soul/spirit working in harmonic convergence. He took delight in his gifts, and poked a pretty stout finger at the chests of pretenders, but it wasn't about putting anybody down, really. It was more about being absolutely honest with yourself and others, and leading by example; creating your own funk and rythm outside of fashion and external influence.
Bachar inhabits a place in my personal pantheon of quintessential climbers alongside Lynn Hill, my cousin George, Alex Lowe, Catherine Destivelle and a few others whose very existence in the world empowered me to pursue my own quixotic alpine quest. But in the case of climbers, even gods can fall...and we all know this.
My heart goes out to Tyrus and all John's close family and friends.
John was my beloved friend.
He was the next generation, and its star. He
treated me respectfully and as a friend.
We had bouldered already for years and
done climbs, when in 1975 we climbed New Dimensions
together. In his presence I simply climbed better.
He honestly told me he had never seen anyone
climb that final crux pitch so easily. But then I
had a rope, and he had soloed it, which was a bit
beyond my imagination. It was likely because he was
there to inspire me that I came back that day just
a little from a fast fade out of the limelight. John
had that special love for the real masters, such as Gill.
Because of the level he achieved, he could know them
in a way others could not. I will never forget when
John tried to free solo Clever Lever in Eldorado in
about 1977 and fell off. He dropped and rolling a long
way. He managed to get down out of the canyon and
literally crawl to the cabin where I lived then. While
nursing his many wounds, as he lay on the couch groaning,
Royal Robbins walked through the door. I finished the
doctoring and left a very worn out John and went to climb
with Royal... I loved climbing with him in Tuolumne.
Whenever I went to Yosemite he quickly found me, and we
climbed. On one Tuolumne route, Gray Ghost, he simply
floated upward, with no protection. He clearly had
mastered those golden knobs. I remember the bouldering
John and I did in Yosemite, long after I had faded from
my prime... I remember the joy I had conspiring
with him, talking, recalling stories... when I worked
on my history of free climbing. More recently I can
say I was especially honored when both he and I were
given lifetime achievement awards at the same festival
in Utah, I the oldtimer who had a brief day in the sun,
and he the true master of our generation, how we shared
that little stage and we told our tales to our
climbing comrades... This is too difficult.
My thoughts are with all of you, his life long friends, and his family, at this very sorrowful time.
John's contribution to climbing was so very large. I just recently got to meet him at the slide show he did in Oakland. Jaybro and I climbed with him in the gym that afternoon. Then he gave a wonderful reminiscence of his life in climbing, Coltrane blowing in the background. He thanked the audience for being interested, and he really meant it.
And of course John and I had all those chess games,
and he kept improving. And he liked it when I started
the Camp 4 wire walking, and I showed him a few
things on the sax. I had played in a jazz band,
and he was trying to teach himself. He had an
interest pretty much in everything. One day
in Yosemite Lodge I was playing chess and looked
up to see some strange person gazing through
a window from outside. The darkly dressed figure
studied us seriously. The person wore dark glasses,
and suddenly those dark glasses blinked on with red
lights, and blinked off. Of course it was John, up to
his old tricks again. Any kind of joke, followed
by that silly smile...
Bachar was amazing. So smooth you couldn't tell if it was 5.6 or 5.12. His soloing feats were unprecedented and remarkable. His style beyond reproach. His influence in the world of free climbing unmatched. Watching him climb was truly poetry in motion. For those of us in the ranks of mortal climbers, he was an inspiration of the highest order. RIP Johnny Rock...
Edit: I always loved that picture of JB on "On The Lamb"... such an iconic image of the master of the granite planet.
3hrs to El Cap Meadow, 1.25hrs Pinns, 42min Castle
Jul 6, 2009 - 02:15am PT
Ever since I started climbing at age twelve, Bachar was one of those figures I guess I could call a childhood hero. Even as I grew up, the stories I heard and read about him left me in awe. No doubt, they still do and will for many years to come. Whenever someone who's had a profound impact leaves this world, I recall the words of Lao-tzu, "Empty mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return. Each being returns to the common source. Returning to the source is serenity. Not realizing the source, one stumbles in confusion and sorrow. When one realizes... tolerance, detachment, dignity and kindheartedness arise. Practicing the way, you are ready for whatever life brings."
I read an article once in National Geographic about a rainforest culture that regularly climbed very high trees to gather bee's nests and other food items. I can't remember the name of the culture, but I did cut out a quote from one of their climbers that said "You fall when your life is over."
"And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."
Deýr fe, deyia frondr, deyr sialfr it sama;
enn orztírr deyr aldregi hveim er ser goðan getr.
Cattle die, kindred die, Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies of one who has done well
From Hávamál, a collection of ancient Icelandic poems/folk wisdom.
John. Chess partner, decades ago, and fellow math geek. A friendship renewed over the last few years. Occasional and delightful pen pal. Wit, clear seer, and inspiration. Son, brother, and father. A climber and leader for the ages.
Perhaps I'll be able to say more tomorrow.
John had many friends, in different circles. Call them, soon. It's bad enough when a climbing friend dies; it's worse when you find out from the Monday morning news. Better that such news come directly from a friend, and important that people know. And it's a way of sharing grief.
It was February,1982, at midnight and I was humping loads for my first El Cap route.There was a mist in the meadow and a full moon shone through. Some fool was playing his sax in ElCap Meadow at midnight on a full moon, and I was lucky enough to have shared that. God Speed, John Bachar.
hey there... oh my... this is a bad shock tonight...
you are gone.. and i'm crying...
the proof of how well loved you are...
i have only known you from what folks had said...
never will i have a chance to enjoy you in person,
as all your beloved friends and family have...
thank you for a life well lived, that we have gotten to enjoy here...
these folks have honored your name and your life so very well...
that you were and still are, one very fine climber and man...
dear family... i'm sending my deep condolences here...
this is very sad and hard to believe....
all you folks are wonderful climbers to come and sit with here...
now one is greatly missed.. and even more so, out there in the great outdoors....
very sorry for you loss, dear friends and family of john bachar...
may the good lord guide you all through this very awful and hard sad time... god bless and much love to you all...
Epps just called and passed on this disheartening event. We all have many memories of John but the one that I will always treasure/ remember is after a day of bouldering and an enligthened conversation with JB in Josh, he choose to give me a book that he had been reading-Fourteen Lessons in Yogi Philosophy. I walked to my bookcase, retreived it and opened it to one of the passages that John had made a note of-it is out of the third lesson entitled Spiritual Principles. Here are a few of the thoughts that he apparently pondered:
"As man's Spiritual Consciouness begins to unfold, he begins to have an abiding sense of the reality of the existence of the Supreme Power, and, growing along with it, he finds the sense of Human Brotherhood-of human relationship-gradually coming in to consciousness. He does not get these things from the Instinctive Mind, nor does his intellect make him feel them. Spiritual Mind does not run contrary to Intellect-it simply goes beyond Intellect. It passes down to the Intellect certain truths which it finds in its own regions of the mind, and Intellect reasons about them. But they do not originate with Intellect. Intellect is cold-Spiritual Consciousness is warm and alive with high feeling". JB was truly an elightened person and certainly showed many of us about the index of our own possibilities. Thanks John for sharing your vision with all of us.
John Bachar was a model for me because of his true commitment to the inner, most important part of climbing. The famous picture of him on New Dimensions, calmly hanging from a small fingerlock comes to mind. To me, that picture says he's there because he wants to be there. He knows it's dangerous, and maybe he's a little scared. But he's receiving something very important.
Wow. I don't refresh ST for a few hours and look what I miss. This is really sudden and surprising. We were all reading posts of his this morning. He was always a hero of mine and I'm glad to have gotten to meet him a couple times. Much love to his family and the whole East Side crew.
my gut aches at this news, which i just now read. my small head has simply locked up.
i once had a chance to talk to John for 20 or 30 minutes, sitting on the tailgate of someone's pickup in the C4 parking lot in the early 80's as he waited to meet up with one of his pals.
it was me, lippy my goofie and excellent aussie pal, and this self absorbed swedish hero we had stupidly (and briefly) teamed up with just that morning. a guy who JB himself later named "The Pride Of Sweden" -- a line that proved the perfect punch line to the funniest climbing story i’ve ever actually witnessed and have since learned to almost tell. perhaps on another day, when i am not so sad, i will try to tell it.
i myself was speechless as we sat with him. and recognize that speechless is a very rare thing in my irish clan. but i was in the presence of BACHAR! and yet, remarkably, he was sitting there on that tailgate talking with lame muffs like the lot of us. for i had assumed it was inevitable that a guy who did the impossible stuff he did (and all the enormous work to prepare himself physically and mentally for it) would be, well, a machine. just a fookin' machine -- not just another soul finding his way like the rest of us.
but i quick realized, just then, just there, that i was entirely wrong. for he was generous with his time, he actually listened to our teenie bopper prattle. he offered advice on route choices and training that would help us with the stuff we were flailing on. in a few gentle words, he gave lippy and i insights that, in time, truly changed not only our climbing but our youthful understanding of the world. and both for the better. not that it made me or lippy a BACHAR, or even in the same galaxy. but it made us both more than we would have been. he told us our weaknesses and how to fix them. i still flail when i shouldn't, and remain largely unfixed. but at least he gave me the gift of better understanding why.
fwiw, "The Pride Of Sweden" he toyed with rather wickedly -- as he saw in an instant what cost me and lippy many days and much misery to realize. i wish John had just dhope slapped the both of us and said "run away from this twerp, you twerps." but that was not his way.
what struck me most was how funny he was. not goofy rubber mallet/three stooges funny -- but dry sly funny. the kind of humor that dawns on you 6 hours, or 6 days, later. he was also quick to laugh. and lippy and i were truly a goofy pair, especially just then. the more serious we tried to be, the more we were a circus. and this cracked him up. but his laughter was not demeaning. rather he seemed to share our joy, loopy as it was.
that and he later proved to be equally happy to be at the receiving end of our rubber mallet goofery. for a week or so after our "tailgate moment" (as above), while we were "overstacking" in C4 slot, a half of a fifth (a tenth?) of jose cuervo inspired me to do some goofy schtick by the light of a nearby campfire. perhaps i was trying to find a prom date. more likely it was simply the intersection of too much cuervo, my own weird neurochemistry, and two days of lippy and i flailing on sh!t we thought was in our range that just pulled my string all the way out.
so i'm staggering and slurring and doing drag queen schtick. then life with the sadistic nuns at reform school schtick (which much overlapped with the former). and them, bobo alone knows why (i don't), i somehow ended up doing my BACHAR impersionation. as with all impersonations designed for laughs, i just took a couple the easiest of the man's many traits and turned the volume on them up to 11 (think Spinal Tap). so i ended up with this kinda lame cross between doper surfer dude speak and something akin to SNL's later Hans and Frans gag (that and some of the drag queen and homicidal nun stuff still in my system). rather lame in all.
imagine my surprise (horror is a better word) when JB himself steps in out of the darkness and into the fire light -- laugning his ass off. when i saw him i was certain he would snap me in two and bury me shallow (and rightly so). but no. what he did was stand right beside me and out-schtick me at my own silly BACHAR schtick. i laughed so hard i hyperventilated and wet myself. or maybe he pissed on my pants after i blacked out. either way, a joyous memory (that which i can remember).
i hope those truly close to John can, and will, record the generosity he so often offered. and his remarkable ability to read in a moment who people really were. that and his wicked and dry sense of humor.
for the man was far more than all the mind bending solos and routes that all of us know and those who follow us will also marvel at. he was a man who cared enough to listen carefully, even to dhopes like me and lippy. and a man willing to mentor the clearly mediocre.
a remarkable soul.
in just a few encounters, probably less than an hour in all, he taught me not how to do what he did -- as i have neither the physical nor mental gifts to get within parsecs of that -- but he did teach me how to be a better me. and that i appreciate more than i can say.
my thoughts are with all those truly close to him. i have no special insights to offer. i myself am simply trying to focus not on so much on his passing from this world, but rather on all of the magic he did while in this world. i myself find some solace remembering JB doing his own schtick variant on my goofy schtick impersonation of him. i wish i could send that mental image to all of you who admired and loved the man. a true pants wetter, and the kind of thing that only a guy who had found his own peace and confidence could possibly do.
John called me dogboy. my mom calls me dogboy. you can call me whatever you want.
What a terrible loss. My deepest condolences to his son and family and friends, and to all here on supertopo who are grieving him. I can hardly believe that I am writing this. I have enjoyed knowing him only by his posts here and through the amazing stories his friends have shared with me. The climbing world won't be the same.
John Bachar was as Todd Gordon put it on the phone tonight to me...."the best climber in the world for ten years."
Dan and I watched jb climb back in the day, talked with him and had fun with him .... he was like the Roger Federer of tennis today. John was awe inspiring and had an amazing impact on his sport. Yet as good as he was he was nice to our family and most he met. Attitude with real genuineness.
But if awesome climbing were John's only gig on this planet it would not have been enough for him. Read his posts. They contain so much more than fantastic climbing by a God gifted athlete that took these gifts to the max.
He deeply cared about the ethics of his sport. At the time of his death John was working on pulling important truths from these ethics and incorporating them into seminars that could be taken to the corporate world teaching them to work on the ethics of integrity and hard work coupled with vision.
Obviously John, like all of us, was not a saint. We all have faults. But the Dude was stellar. He cared....for People, the purity of the rock and his Tyrus. Peace forever John. Know our life paths crossed for a reason ....see ya in the heavenlies. lynne
came in late and am stunned for what this means for and about climbing. To me-when I started climbing in 1985-Bachar more than any other climber represented the inherent power of climbing in all readings of the word, from his training to his ability to paint himself on a landscape where no human seemed to belong untethered.
Condolences to his family and to his ropemates and fellow travelers.
Wow. I've been trying to process this, but it ain't workin'.
I didn't know John for as long as a lot of folks, but I counted him among my friends. Now my heart aches, for him, for ya'll, & for me, too. I've got no words.
My stomach sank the second I hear the news. I just climbed with John on the 27th a true inspiration to all! I will always remember the great effect you have had on my life. You will be missed! Condolences to family and everyone he touched with his life.
I met JB in the Gunks around 1987. He was soloing Never Never Land [I mean, just playing on that thing] while one of his friends was trying to lead it. He would down solo to point out the huge 5.10 buckets, then climb up, over and back up.
I was leading a 5.8 to the right and playing that I was really desparate and trying to clip this sh1tty 1/4" bolt [Wonderland]. He saw this and started laughing a lot. I thought, "oh sh1t, did my stupid antics cause Bachar to fall??!!" Never in a million years.
And we talked to him afterwards. Remember, this was juat around the time where he was still blowing minds with his solos and pretty much world famous. And he was an unbelievably nice, approachable guy.
I have been in awe my whole climbing career, my whole 6yrs. The story of Rap Music, the Bachar-Yerian, the Half Dome day of free soloing in J-Tree, and on and on, story after story.
I am amazed by John's life story. I wished to be like that and not a boring mid-western kid of the auto industry. His life story reads like a massive tome, family, friends, accomplishments. He lived life to the fullest and was an inspiration to me to do better.
When i first wanted to learn how to pull bolts to replace them, a few people said, "call John Bachar." I did and he was super helpful then and many times after. He always was generous with handing out beta. Sometimes it was for unknown cliffs that might be base jumped other times it was Tuolumne Bouldering history and beta.
He was one of the first superstars i read about when i started climbing. For me it was easy to grasp how climbers would always be doing more and more difficult climbs. But to this day I still can't grasp how he could free solo laps and laps on Tuolumne knobs or onsight the Moratorium. Truly an inspiration climber and great man.
Below are two photos he sent me two months ago for my Tuolumne Bouldering guide. Credited to John Bachar Collection
John Bachar on Mean Green at The Gunks before it was repeated.
John Bachar on Reach For A Peach new Tenaya Lake before it was repeated.
Oftentimes luminaries have no idea of the impact they have on those with whom they come in contact, however brief. Such was the case with John.
I vividly recall struggling with one of the Water Cracks on Lembert in the early 1980s when John happened by. He stuck around and called up words of encouragement--not beta, that wouldn't have been his m.o.--and I finally pushed through whatever issue I was having.
After my partner and I got back down the three of us talked a while, just chatting among the pines and the granite. Despite being only seven years older than I, John had this centered quality that was almost otherworldly, and yet he was so down to earth! That he would even spend part of a sunny afternoon with a couple of random teenagers...I was in high school and yet I felt like I was in heaven.
John, thank you for helping me become a rock climber.
I am in total shock. My deepest sympathy goes out to John's family and friends and, really, all of us, for whom he has always been an entertaining inspiration. He was one of a kind, who brought aspects of poetry, music, olympic discipline, philosophy and even innovative enterprise to climbing. God's grace to all of us in our tears, and Rest In Peace, Shining Knight. I hope to see you again with Tobin. We will never forget you.
I've be in touch with John two days ago. We met in Verdon long time ago and was planning to do ITW with him for Escalade mag (french web climbing magazin).
I will do it any way because i personnly think that john was kind of "alpha climber" in USA and also in Europe.
John was one of the "greats" in the history of American climbing, but he should also be remembered for his incisive intelligence and his musical talent. He also served as an inspiration and a mentor for many younger climbers- he will be missed.
my condolences to the family and friends.
i didn't knew john personnaly but still, he was somehow part of my ''climbingworld''and i think john was one of the most influential climbers ever, and everybody who climbed during the 80s (and later) was motivated and inspired by what john did. he set an example of good style in climbing despite rapbolters and powerdrills.
I too am just in shock; he was *the man* when I started climbing in 1980. We met him while in the Gorge a couple of years ago, while he was soloing the routes I'd just been falling on. He was so smooth and deliberate, and so obviously loved what he was doing.
Pretty shocked, still. There didn't seem like there was much that Bachar couldn't do seamlessly. I went for a walk last night, listening to 'A Love Supreme' on my headset. It didn't help. Maybe sharing a story or two will.
When I was a young been-nowhere, done-nothing grommet I ran into John in Real Hidden Valley. He was wearing some god-awful lycra tights and carrying a gigantic boom box. He was playing "Straight Outta Compton" just a few weeks after it'd come out. Did I mention the box? It was enormous! On many levels, I was blown away. Years passed and I'd run across John here and there, mainly on the East Side. Last summer I took him a copy of Parlaiment's 'Motor Booty Affair', the album he framed and displayed with pride. The sleeve became an image he'd post from time to time. I like to think that he always had good tunes in his head and dolphins under his feet.
Just last summer I had the pleasure of doing the Dike Route on Pywiak as John played sax below. It was the best way to end a wonderful season in the mountains. Clear skies above and soulful melodies floating all around.
More recently he helped out with the Yosemite Climber project. I just wish he'd been able to find out how his contribution moved the whole thing forward.
I remember meeting Bachar the day after he did the Nose and Half Dome in a day, the first time in the mid-eighties. I was in the Camp 4 parking lot sorting gear for a big wall. He didn't know who I was, but Bachar was animated and psyched to share his story with someone. I did not realize how notable that feat was for some years. In fact, I don't think many people relaize what a true bad ass he was for the world of climbing. I am truly saddened to hear he is gone.
Saddened deeply, JB was one of my climbing heroes. Never got the chance to know him except through a couple emails about shoes.
Still, there is a sense of the loss. Guys like him inspired me to climb, inspired me to keep climbing after I got hurt, and inspired me to keep a higher standard.I was headed to Dike wall later this week, not sure I want to go there now.
Yesterday evening my wife wasn't feeling very well. She wished to listen to some music. I got the laptop out and put in a CD. It was a collection of songs by her favorite band the Rolling Stones. As the songs played I strummed along with my guitar as I often do. I hadn't listened to this particular CD before and had no idea what song would come up next. The familiar melody of Paint it Black started up. Wow, I thought I haven't heard this tune in years. I was messing around trying to figure out the chords while reflecting on the lyrics..."No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue I could not foresee this thing happening to you." "Like a new born baby it just happens every day." What's it like to lose a loved one I thought? How did the Stones deal with the loss of their band mate Brian Jones? As the song played my cell phone rang. Who could be calling? Should I answer our let it go to voice mail? I picked up. It was Joe Hedge. He had some bad news and I better sit down. With I want to see you paint it, paint it black, black as night black as coal playing in the background Joe informed of John's death. It sent chills down my spine. We all lost a bandmate here. One of our band of brothers of our climbing community. While John and I will always be connected by a punch thrown in the Camp 4 parking lot some twenty odd years ago there were a lot of other far more positive memories. Hanging out and climbing with him while he wintered in Joshua tree. Going to see Phil Woods play (an early sax inspiration). Hanging on a rope taking photos of him as he soloed the Nabisco Wall. Along with Ron Kauk he was the best climber of my generation. His soloing defined him as a climber and a person. He had such a mastery of unroped climbing its hard to fathom that he would ever fall. It was other wordly and was in part what made him a rock God to so many. I guess he was human after all. Perhaps this is the best compliment we can give him. A unique and special human being that will be missed by many. Rest in peace John.
Wow. As one of the administrators for the JTree page on Mountain Project, I was giddy at 42 to receive an email from John about a bit of the content. In my mind's eye, he has been so revered over the last two decades, that I couldn't believe it.
Here is another link of John climbing, this time in Joshua Tree. Love the little show off hang on the Beaver.
John Bachar's climbing accomplishments were superhuman--that goes without saying. I knew him more as a writer, and he was one of the greatest thinkers I ever had the honor to work with--a sharp intellect, a wonderful sense of integrity, responsibility and humor, and a surprising humility.
I wish there was something I could say--but I always used to call him when I was at loss for words. I'll miss him,
I'm going to miss you, my friend. Ever since I met you at Horsetooth in the '70s I've been a disciple of your honesty and integrity. As I got to know you over the years I learned that the bluster and pride that I bruised myself on at Horsetooth was really me seeing, for the first time, someone who encouraged and, yes, demanded honesty and integrity from all those around him. I'm a better person because of you; thank you for that. John, You had climbed so hard and climbed so high for so may years that I'd come to assume that you are immune to gravity. Sadly, today I learned that you aren't.
Today I sit saddened at the loss of an old friend, John Bachar, who attained legendry status through his super-human climbing abilities. He possessed some God-given gifts that very few have ever been blessed with and fewer yet ever exercised. John could make anything look easy and never had I encountered anyone with such smooth footwork. It was indeed magical to climb and boulder with John back in the day.
Although we had little contact over the past 30 years our recent exchanges over the phone and emails brought the reassurance that John was the same old mate. He was articulate, intelligent and most of all humorous. Whether it was sitting around listing to Coltrane, sitting around the campfire exchanging stories or hiking up to the base of Tangerine Trip to play music while the rain undulated like a curtain past the reach of the overhangs above, he always approached life with an uncommon zeal. Like Coltrane, I think John had a special connection with his Maker.
Yet in spite of all his accomplishments and fame he would be the first to admit that he was merely a man. And like the Bible says, “it is appointed once for all men to die but after this the judgment.” Salvation is between a man and his Maker. It’s my sincerest desire that John sits before a living God through eternity.
My deepest condolences go out to all of John’s friends and family, especially his son Tyrus.
Thanks Mike for the wonderful photo which brings back all those memories of good times so long ago.
I saw the ambulance racing through Mammoth yesterday. I didn't think much of it. Now I'm in tears and shock ... I too called John, hoping against hope that he would answer. I had become close to John these last few years as a father, and as old friends dealing with severe medical conditions. Don't know what to say today. Please John, send your son all the energy and fatherly love that you can and keep it up until he is grown into a man himself.
When I got up this am and checked my mail, I got what I thought was a bad joke from a friend. When I recieved multiple bad jokes, I realized that it was a bad dream and wanted so much to wake up.
So many super times that I cannot even count. I am happy though that my memories are clear and these will stay with me forever.
Through my life I have dealt with a lot of death and tragedy and I thought I was pretty bullit proof to these circumstances, but this has knocked me off feet. My heart aches and I feel empty.
Yano was a great man and will be remembered by thousands.
This is very, very sad indeed. I had always idolized John and his contemporaries. Starting 33 years ago a few years behind the "Stone Masters" My friends and I would listen to the tales and climb some of the more saner routes these guys were putting up, always thinking; " Bachar is soloing this stuff when I'm gripped out of my skull with a new rope". Bachar seemed to be the embodiment of physical hone and calm focus. A Pedestal was arranged in my mind for him and his ilk. I figured that if I ever met him he would be aloof and unapproachable. Years later when I did meet him he was very genuine and self-effacing, helpful to a fault when dialing me in with several pairs of shoes. I came away thinking what a cool man that was on each occasion. If he was ever unapproachable he sure has changed. Reading the other posts It seems his son gave him a gift of temperance I know my son has given me a similar gift. While I didn't know him well I feel a great sadness in his passing and a greater sadness for his family and friends who now must bear an excruciating amount of pain and sorrow. This is a cruel planet to be incarnated on at times to be sure. Thanks for years of inspiration to several generations.
He was John Bachar, a freckled kid who's face gleamed joy.
Then he became John Bachar.
I was pretty much numbed out till I read this, which perfectly captured John, especially to those of us who knew him when he first got started. His boyish enthusiasm could light a crag on fire. His early solos (Butterballs, New Dimensions, all the stuff out at Josh, et al) had an effect on the climbing world which can never be replicated.
The South African climbing community is stunned by the tragic loss of such a great and influential climber. We will all miss the presence of John on this planet and all the staff at SA Mountain Sport Magazine send their deep felt condolences to his family and everybody whose life was touched by John.
I never met John since my Valley days were over before he arrived. Of course I read about him in books and only yesterday was inspired to respond to a couple of threads of his on this site. Today I read the sad news.
A loss to so many people on so many levels, but especially to his family and young son. His memory will always live on.
I remember the teen, John. The one who would ride his motorbike, 50 miles one- way to Stony Point, every day after school because he had to climb.
…… John was always way strong, one time his motorbike’s battery needed a charge. I went to my garage to get the charger and brought it to the side yard where the bike was parked. I had to go back and get an extension cord. Before I went to get it I told John, “remove the seat so we can get to the battery”. When I got back the seat was off the bike. When the battery was fully re-charged, John went to replace the seat, he picked it up and set it down on to the bike and pushed down hard. I asked him what he was doing and he said “the seat just pulled straight up and off before, I don’t know what’s wrong now” as he tried to realign it. I grabbed it from him and looked at the underside of the seat, I looked at the bike….. yes it did have a nice RELEASE LEVER, that was still not released. It took me a second to figure out what had happened but it was hard to believe. John didn’t know about the lever ( all bikes have them, it’s so you can get to the battery and stuff under the seat) so he figured the seat just pulled off….. He pulled and pulled and then he CRANKED on that seat….. with both hands! He got the four 10 mm bolts holding the seat to the bike to rip right through the sheet metal!!!!!! I welded the whole mess back together and he was on his way, but I still don’t know how he did that…. poor bolts didn’t stand a chance.
…… I remember when we helped him “move to Hidden Valley Campground” from his folks house (Dad if I recall). I was sitting there talking with John and I asked him this question. “John what are you going to DO out here?” Without hesitation he said this: “I am going to become the best rock climber who ever lived” …….
Hats off to you John, you went out and lived your dream…. with both hands.
Many years ago I got to witness Coz lead his new route, Father Figure (12d/13a), at JT. Coz is certainly no slouch when it comes to climbing and watching him dyno from crimper to crimper up the overhanging wall was one of the most impressive things I had ever seen. I later went back with JB and watched him climb the route. Not only did he solo it, he grabbed every hold statically like he was on a 5.7. John certainly did harder, bolder and more noteworthy climbs, but this was by far the most impressive climbing feat I've ever seen.
I met him after he soloed above me in Owen's River Gorge. It kinda freaked me out to see someone above since it was a single pitch. My husband had followed his accomplishments for years. It was so great that we could meet the legend. Neither of us will forget that day.
Growing up, there were climbers I wanted to climb as good as, but Bachar... he was on another planet. Too good to even aspire to... you just observed with mouth wide open.
He and I traded emails a week or two ago. He gave enthusiastic compliments about my photographs and agreed to be a part of my climber portrait series. From the few words I traded with him it seems his heart was as big as his talent. I was excited to finally meet the man next month...
We want to pay tribute to John in the next issue of SA Mountain Sport. If anyone one has a few hi-res pics of John climbing or just hanging out, we would greatly appreciate some to go with the tribute. Let me know.
Met John 1 time. I'd been climbing a few years. I came in for a shower at Desert Rocks after a great day on the rocks and I saw a guy sitting down at a table with a slide projector. I asked him what was happening. He looked up at me and said he was going to give a slideshow. I asked him what his name was. He smiled at me and said, " John....John Bachar". I was new to the game and didn't know anyone by sight. But I knew his name and I knew I was was lucky to meet a legend. RIP.
What can I say when the climber who was my greatest inspiration in 30 years of climbing dies? It's just awful. I just know, though, that he led an amazing life, far more than mere mortals can grasp. But I am very sad and I will miss him. May he rest in peace.
Thanks everyone for giving a sense of who he was. Clearly he had a lot of good times and gave as he got.
I only knew him through articles until a young friend went West, did a ground-up FA in Josh, and had it chopped by Bachar, who had previously soloed it. Then Bachar talked it over with my friend around a campfire and an honest exchange on both sides bled off any bad feelings. A wonderful tribe, climbers.
I guess I got lucky. Friday we spent the afternoon climbing and visiting with John at the Dike Wall. I was watching him climb a route and knew it was John climbing long before I ever saw his face. No one else will ever climb with such grace and power and precision ever again. I've known John for over 35 years and I still can't believe he fell! We will miss him a lot.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Met him once at the last Outdoor Retailer held in Reno, NV.
Was wearing my old Fire Flyers and John wanted to buy them right off my feet....we exchanged some good natured ribbing.
I still have the shoes.
He is and forever will be an inspiration....God Bless you Sir!
So many contacts with John over the years all around the world(route beta, shoe info, what wine to buy in Spain,...) It was incredible to be able to talk to a personal hero like that.
An amazing person.
My condolences to his family.
He will always be an inspiration.
Sad loss indeed. Boreal's poster of John 'On the Lamb' graced countless bunkers I lived in during my late teen and early twenties and was a constant inspiration to all. Wish I could have made it to one of his Colorado shows this last year.
John was a contrast of colors, an anomoly that made him very unique and beautiful. There will never be another person like him.
I know he loved his son greater than climbing. I also know that his current girlfriend has greatly helped him through incredible hurdles. This is the last thing they expected to be entering their lives.
My heart goes to Paola and Tyrus. My heart goes out to all his family and friends.
inside the magazine depicted below (from 1984) is a fascinating photo article about the young climber, John Bachar. It's definitely a time capsule peice and worth searching out. Next time I'm at the ranch I will nab it and scan it!
I started to write some thoughts yesterday, I did not know what to say so I deleted it. I really did not know John only meet him a few times at events and through friends. But I do remember one conversation during the early years of the bolts wars. He simply asked that before rapping a route let someone try to do it ground up. A simple request with so much behind it. JB set a high standard and kept to it. Something few do. JB you will be missed by many. Sorry to see you go. My condolences to JB's family and many friends.
this is a sad day in american rock climbing when you lose a legend and one that touched so many people....
i am crushed as are all of us on the ST.
To me he was: my mentor, my friend, my inspiration. he taught me so much about life, climbing, style, music...
he introduced me to the art of ground up....taught me how to hang on a hook a drill.
introduced me to rap and jazz...
the stone masters have left an imprint on so many climbers over the years and they set the bar so high and have done more to progress the sport and i will always be grateful to have spent the time i did with the crew.
life is short, sweet and bitter at the same time...
we have lost a great man to use Graham's words and the global climbing community
owes a life time of respect a gratitude to JB...
I miss you bro and am thankful to have the memories that we created together...
I’m finding I can write about this better than I can talk about it.
We are all outside the family loop right now. They are going through a private period and surely spinning. They know the support is here and waiting. These decisions about Funds and services will come out when they’re ready.
I love hearing and reading all the kind words. John would be beaming and blushing…
Mike, understand. While I was never as close to JB as the stonemasters, I have had many encounters with the man over the years. I saw him grow up along with myself from a young ego centric kid to a great father to his son and a mature inspiration to all of us. Let us know what if there anything we can do. Truly a ledgend.
I only knew John from doing buisness with him with Acopa. One of the greatest memories was a trade show night out when he was on stage in SLC and playing sacs. Everyone was on their "way" and John started to rap on the mic about whatever, and the sound guy shuts him off and he keeps on going on like nothing happened.Could not here sh#t. Super funny. We had a good laugh the next day. Doing buisness with him was allways a pleasure.His climbing speaks for itself.Will miss him and his stories.Hope all his close friends and family the best.A sad day indeed.Until we meet again.
I was looking forward to seeing you in two weeks at the show. It has always been a good time hanging out with you. Thanks for all of the fun conversations and keeping me correct with climbing history and artifacts.
You definately were in a league all of your own. I am going to miss you. When I get to heaven, I hope there are some good routes left up there. Save me some!
Too soon John, we, your fellow dreamers, have become the keepers of those dreams. We were not ready! The music plays on, but we are still. In sorrow, we salute you.
What if I live no more those kingly days?
their night sleeps with me still.
I dream my feet upon the starry ways;
my heart rests in the hill.
I may not grudge the little left undone;
I hold the heights, I keep the dreams I won.
While paddling my surfboard this morning I had a couple of visions from my past. I was strolling through the camp 4 boulders back in the early seventies and crossing paths with a tall, skinny, ultra fit, blond kid that was the most elegant rock technician that I had met. From that day on I knew what smooth calculated precision on rock was.
As I paddled further, I reminisced the same fellow soulfully playing his saxophone in the camp 4 parking lot next to his open van door. He created a magic mood that will forever be in my quiver of great memories of my time spent in Yosemite Valley.
This untimely passing is an immeasurable loss to the mountaineering universe that brings me great sadness. He was what all of us aspire to be as a person, always full of honor, humor, and goodness. To me, he will always be the best climber in the world.
I just found out about this. The thread titles said it all even before I opened any of them. What a shock. When something tragic and sad like this happens there's just no good way to find out about it.
We have truely lost one of our brightest shining stars.
Best wishes to the family as they deal with this difficult time.
Largo-- Many thanks for that link. Great spur-of-the-moment writing. This is the crux:
"Thus to watch Bachar was to believe that poise, control and reason were at the heart of climbing well."
Part of the sense that Bachar's death matters is the sense that an era's passing. Many of us could've said that.
As for the "dark side," and the typically British coded language about John's personality and ego, many of us wouldn't have said that.
But that key word, "reason": It seems none of us could have said that. At least not right now. And that's one of the keys to the moment.
For years, many of us who solo have believed that with sufficent control and calculation and care, soloing could be made soli, and for many, many years, I've said that JB on the 3rd was safer than the average intermediate on almost anything.
Not that I always believed it, but it's what I told my loved ones.
SAD DAY FOR ME...JUST WAS TOLD FROM FRIEND JASON KARN OF THE SAD NEWS...WE HAD THE PRIVILEGE TO HANG OUT AND TOUR J.TREE WITH HIM AND SCOTT COSGROVE ...EVEN THOUGH ETHICS WERE A ISSUE SINCE WE WERE SPORT CLIMBERS..HE STILL AND WE STILL SEE BEYOND THE POINTS OF THAT SINCE ALL IN ALL WE WERE CLIMBERS..I SEND OUT MY SORROW TO ALL FAMILY AND FRIENDS..I WISH UPON HIM A GREAT KINGDOM OF VIRGIN ROCK AND HAVE A EVERLASTING CLIMB..
I think I speak for many in saying it has been amongst the most difficult of days to be a climber. An indescribably painful loss of not just a living legend, but a real friend to many of us.
I have spent the better part of today staring at a file containing most of the 3000+ images I took of John over the years, thinking at times that it summed up a large part of his life. I'm wrong probably, but at least for me there are many moments of sheer amazement in those images. Moments that certainly define John to some degree. His finesse and grace. His near perfection of the craft. A feeling, on my part, of great honor at getting to be there.
Dexter Canyon 1988
When I first went out to shoot John soloing in the summer of 1982, I was excited at the prospect of helping him get decent images of what he had been doing. He had showed me some previous photos, taken from the ground below and badly exposed, so I offered to go out the next day with him to Low Profile Dome, rap down and get what I could that way. As I photographed him gliding up some of his regular solos, it struck me that I could very well be present at his death, he needed only to miss one move or have a hold break. It was a stark and terrible thought and I was at moments truly afraid. But after days and months of photographing him on increasingly difficult routes, I realized he was at almost zero risk of falling. Indeed, he was in less danger than many climbers when they are roped, and I just forgot about it.
New Dimensions 1982
It has been painful to sort through that file today. But I know John would want to be remembered in the photographs that he worked so hard to make and would want us to enjoy them. No one was more dedicated than he to getting them right. So here are some familiar ones, and some that have never been seen by anyone besides the two of us. I'll put more up in a second post, and at a later date, as it seems fit.
On an early shoot of On the Lamb, with Fire prototypes that were never put in production. Alongside his chalk bag is a toothbrush and his car key.
John was a legend--in every sense of the word--to me for years before I eventually met him. When we did finally meet, I kept watching him to see if I could catch a glimpse of the greatness I'd built up and expected. I'm not sure what I was looking for, but I figured it'd be something obvious, like maybe he'd be wearing a cape under his civvies or something.
Over time, we'd run into each other at the trade shows and wind up having drinks or grab a lunch or something and it dawned on me that he's just a guy. A real normal guy, actually, like the rest of us.
Well, not exactly like the rest of us ... his cajones were a bunch bigger and he had vision and a talent for climbing that only comes by once for every few ten-thousand climbers ... but when you sat down with the guy, he was approachable and genuine and liked to laugh, tell stories and even listen to yours.
The climbing community won't be the same without him. There's nobody like John Bachar nor, I believe, will there ever be. He was perfectly matched to his time and he brought a vision and a style to climbing that is uniquely his. I’m really going to miss him. I extend heartfelt condolences to his family and to our community. We’ve lost a big one, but his legend will remain for as long as human beings continue to climb rock.
I'M SO SORRY FOR TYRUS'S AND THE WORLD'S LOST. IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I JOHN.I FIRST MET HIM IN 1977 BOULDERING IN JT WITH YABO.IN 1984 I GAVE HIM MY DINNER WHEN I WENT IN TO LABOR WITH MY SON. I SAW HIM IN HIS NEW HOUSE,TYRUS WAS LESS THAN A MONTH OLD.SO MANY GOOD TIMES AND MEMORIES. MY SON TOLD JOHN ONCE, THAT HE WAS "SUPPOSE TO BLOW NOT SUCK", WELL THIS NEWS SUCKS! I HOPE TO HERE JOHN PLAYING WITH COLTRANE,JUST BLOWING IN THE WIND.....RIP DB
Bachar was a part of the Foundation of the sport to me.
I was too shy to talk to such a heavy player in the early 80's in Tuolumne.
We were on the Dike route, parking at the the anchors after pitch one, and John comes climbing up on the crystals using only his feet and trying to go no hands- just balancing up the wall.
I think he had a red VW camper and we would see it parked around by the Meadows store-it was sort of like knowing that there was this really famous guy living next door.
And now there is this really famous guy and he's moved away
I admired the man for many reasons, obviously his climbing feats, but most importantly his integrity. Right or wrong, he was willing to stand up for what he believed even if he swam against the current.
Only on Saturday, I had read his post about the "4th of You lie", which was in a way, a mildly subversive thing to post in a day of national celebration. He must have known, it would have some people flaming him. But for some, including me, it had the effect of increased admiration for his capacity to self-reflect regardless.
I drove around upstate NY that day, watching the celebrations, with thoughts he had provoked in the back of my mind. Like any good man, I think he just wanted a better world.
Like many others here, I never met him in person, but in a small way, I felt I knew him.
When time makes the loss a little bit more bearable, it will be time to reflect on his legacy and the fact that he touched many lives, of people he hadn't even met.
Thanks for the incredible photos. I feel like the world has lost a great light today and it feels dark. Doubtless the light will return to us. The gods must be throwing a party welcoming home this hero, this great but humble man.
2 days ago i placed my first hand-drilled bolt at my new local crag here in japan. it took almost 45 minutes, and i was on rappell with some hooks. After I got down, i turned to my wife and said "can you believe those oldschool hardasses would stand on 5.11 slab and drill a bolt on lead, 50 feet off the deck?" little did i know that at perhaps that same moment, one of those oldschool hardasses was embarking on his last climbing route...
so much admiration. i was glad to have met him, only once, but i will never forget watching him climb that day at my climbing gym in los angeles. so solid it has ridiculous. john bachar will be the first angel with no wings, he doesnt need them!
I was draw today to go up to lake George and just take a look at the Dike wall, as I was there a couple of friends, bondo and Talsky were walking down from the base. We talked about John and they spoke of the fallout at the base. they said how much better they felt seeing where he fell from wasn't on one of the tricky north face routes witch might be deemed recklass but down on the lower end, probably just cruising for a workout- maybe a broken hold- no one will ever know- As we talked Clevenger walked up, also draw to the wall-It shows what a huge influence Bachar was to all and the incedible loss to the tribe. Peace John
It feels like a lifetime ... so much respect for this man, for so many years. Not just for his climbing, but for being the incredible person he was. John was only a year older than me and I followed his mastery of climbing most of my life.
John, we will miss you man!
My prayers go out to John, his family and his closest friends.
I will continue to look up to you JB ... as I always have.
I am heartbroken. I just talked to John in Golden at his show and then we exchanged emails. Although I hadn't seen him since Camp 4 in the mid 70's I felt a real bond to him when I saw him again a week or two ago. I'm devastated. My condolences to his family.
Ann and I feel privileged, honored, to have heard him talk about the meaning of his life. I'm so sad.
Thanks Phil for posting those photos. I started climbing in 82/83 so those were some of the first climbing images that I ever saw. Bachar was just such a hero to me at the time and inspired me in so many ways. That poster of him soloing on the Cookie (or was it Lunatic Fringe) used to hang in my room back home. (I still have it stored out back I think.)
My portrait that I shot of him at the J Tree reunion still hangs in my office. When I look at John, he still reminds me of what it's like to be the undisputed best in the world. What it's like to follow your own path. Tomorrow, when I sit at my desk and I see John looking back at me, all of that will be mixed with sadness. Farewell John Bachar.
Tuolumne, mid eighties. It's one of those incredible Indian Summer days, October maybe, I'm up from the Valley for a last fix for the year. I'm doing my little "junior's solo circuit". Psyching up for Golfer's Route I think, on Low Profile, here comes Bachar, strolling down from who knows what. There's maybe six climbers in the whole flippin' Meadows!
Well he comes right over and chats, like I'm an old pal. We're climbing at levels that are worlds apart, but we're each out there alone, enjoying the magic of that place. The topic of crystals came up, I guess, 'cause he parted with the advice "stay on the smaller, embedded ones."
I hear that admonition to this day, whenever I'm tempted to yard on a sucker jug. I'm a couple of years older than him, but I heed that advice from Uncle John.
PS, I also got to enjoy the" El Cap Jam Session" from Camp V, although I think it was for someone else!
I thought about john a lot today while soloing Jensons jaunt and the trough at Tahquitz. John saw me struggling on stem jam in hidden valley camp ground back when the fire cat had just come out. He came up to me like a drug dealer and said " wana try these" I sent it first try and bought 2 pairs. He was the biggest influence on many of us. Peace JB EA
When I was a 14-year-old boy growing up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, photos of John Bachar meant one thing: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! For a generation of climbers, of people, Bachar meant this.
I was nearby the day he died, sitting on top of Crystal Crag in the High Sierra sun. The day was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I had soloed up Crystal Crag, which sits right above the Dike Wall and has a decent view of it. My good friend James was visiting town, and we were soloing together. The Mammoth Crest was windy that day, with strong, fun gusts blowing through. The temps were perfect. The stone was beautiful. The stone was absolutely mother-f*#king beautiful. It was Granite.
As we topped out near the end of the North Arete on Crystal, we stopped for a visual tour of the area.
The high country was immortal, a place where spirits dwell, not humans, at least not for long. The Mammoth Crest was very close, half-an-hour hike, very close to Crystal Crag and the Dike Wall. The Mammoth Crest, where the wild winds of the Pacific Ocean world wave jet stream blast up the San Joaquin River drainage and flood the minds of young men to embrace life. The winds and storms funnel themselves year after year upstream and up canyon, up and over the top of the Sierran dream, the Yosemite chant, the high country surfer, the ropeless warrior, as the glacier carved us tribesmen a history of deep knowledge.
So Bachar's course was set. He could not say NO. He was there that day and it was beautiful in his backyard--close to the spirits, away from the crowds. It was in the 70's which was nice, and it was his, and that made it perfect. He lived close to the crest. Most of the tribe had scattered, but the elders knew no other life and had stayed in the vicinity--Bachar, Kauk, Werner, Croft. The elders stayed, for life was found close to the crest.
So Bachar soloed the day he died, and the winds blew over the crest of his life and he thought about it as he fell, and there he was, as he had thought about it ten thousand times, as he had thought about it a million times, in dreams, moments, moves, reaches, smears, breaths...yet he had held onto the knowledge and the belief that anything is possible, mother f*#kers!
I stood and stared at the Dike Wall, right there below, in the shade, its slightly overhanging walls of perfect jewels for his fingers. Where he meditated. I showed my friend James the wall and explained it was a good wall, sitting perched there above the emerald lake, in the talus of perfect geological fate, in the sacred timing of falling heroes. He was there that day, as I gazed through the growth of green needles on trees of willow and pine and juniper which framed my view of where Bachar fell. There, in the truth of the Californian sun, he discovered he was there. I hope, John, you were happy there. Thank you. We love you.
" stay on the smaller embedded ones" classic, just goes to show.
Man the guy loved to climb and share the experience in his own way.
I'm getting the feeling he shared it with a lot of people, just in passing at obscure crags.
My name is Tom Berg and John was my cousin. The news of John's passing has hit us hard as it has hit you guys and gals. After reading all these wonderful messages and having one of my great friends be on the Mammoth Rescue team I'm greatful to you all and to you Scott. John loved more that anything to climb and loved Tyrus and his family so much. He loved all of you and please don't forget this. As the world has lost the Greatest Mountain Climber that lived , I am positive that you all will keep climbing in his honor and every once in awhile take a time-out and look up. John will be at the top cheering you on. John has reached the top and will miss you all. He died doing what he loved and wouldn't have wanted it no other way. It was a beautiful day with the greatest backdrop god could make. From Johns Family thank you all for the greatest sympathies.
Always Loved and Never Forgotten
We need grand old men to help guide the sport into the future - and now we'll have one less of them (and one of the brightest lights at that), this loss will grow as the years move forwards and away from his influence...so now, he really is a legend, never to be seen on the rock again, just a story to the next generation - this is where the loss lies from a rock climbing point of view.
As for his family, well, anyone who has lost a loved-one will know and send their sympathies.
Wanted to honor a very unique, gifted and kind man today. To find a place to draw away and remember his family, special people and friends in his life in prayer and positive thoughts. To reflect on a life and a pilgrimage. I was aiming for the mountains but ended up here.
The People's Wall in La Jolla... because Mr. Bachar was all about people. Reading this Thread and so many comments about JB , this man was indeed all about people. He cared.
John was scheduled to speak here at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. What a loss. He had been working at many projects for the next great part of his life.
John literally emerged from the Rock.....
And walked his Golden Trail.
And like any truly great person had waves of controversy in his life.....
Taking the tokes of age his philosophy of climbing and caring never changed.
The sun finally set for you, John Bachar, July 5, 2009. You remain true always to your loved ones, your friends, your philosophy of rock and ...your caring. Peace Dude and Cheers Amigo. Thanks for all.
"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace."
What a huge loss to his friends and family, and to the climbing community. I didn't know him, but I brushed past his life several times over the years. Once on Fairview Dome in the mid 80's, he cruised past me solo while I was at a stance. He was very polite and gracious as he excused himself. Of course he didn't know it, but a few years earlier (79 or 80) I was stuck in Tuolumne and had put up a note looking for partners to climb 5.9's with. I got a reply with his name on it saying "I only climb 5.11, after pre inspection." So I guess he did climb fleetingly with me - and only on a 5.9.
He was "the" climbing hero of my generation, and we feel his passing deeply. It seemed like he was always climbing the hardest, the fastest, and the boldest on the biggest stage at the time, Yosemite. Most climbers like myself couldn't try to emulate him - we could only shake our heads in awe. So much of what he did was so ahead of it's time.
If I ever get to do another first ascent I will name it after him, as long as I get the balls up enough to do it in good enough style. His was the best!
I was just thinking about Bachar this afternoon out at the Leap.
Putting my foot so carefully, remembering him putting his foot so carefully, way the hell up at Joshua Tree. So brave, so doing what he had to do. That 4th of You Lie post. Brave again. Tonight I'm hearing that saxaphone out in the parking lot. So sorry.
Sitting here in the dark, eyes open, mind open...thinking,..wondering. What were his thoughts that day?
How do I feel? My family doesn't understand,..can't make them.
I barely knew him....from a long time ago.
I wouldn't have expected to feel SO much at this time, but it's strange....and I do.
There are times that stand like towers, where you don't forget.
I'll always remember where I was:
The day my father died.
The day John Lennon died.
The day Jerry Garcia died.
The day John Bachar died.
I didn't expect this.
The Lure of Little Voices, by Robert Service, 1/16/1874-9/11/58
There's a cry from out the loneliness -- oh, listen, Honey, listen!
Do you hear it, do you fear it, you're a-holding of me so?
You're a-sobbing in your sleep, dear, and your lashes, how they glisten --
Do you hear the Little Voices all a-begging me to go?
All a-begging me to leave you. Day and night they're pleading, praying,
On the North-wind, on the West-wind, from the peak and from the plain;
Night and day they never leave me -- do you know what they are saying?
"He was ours before you got him, and we want him once again."
Yes, they're wanting me, they're haunting me, the awful lonely places;
They're whining and they're whimpering as if each had a soul;
They're calling from the wilderness, the vast and God-like spaces,
The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole.
They miss my little camp-fires, ever brightly, bravely gleaming
In the womb of desolation, where was never man before;
As comradeless I sought them, lion-hearted, loving, dreaming,
And they hailed me as a comrade, and they loved me evermore.
And now they're all a-crying, and it's no use me denying;
The spell of them is on me and I'm helpless as a child;
My heart is aching, aching, but I hear them, sleeping, waking;
It's the Lure of Little Voices, it's the mandate of the Wild.
I'm afraid to tell you, Honey, I can take no bitter leaving;
But softly in the sleep-time from your love I'll steal away.
Oh, it's cruel, dearie, cruel, and it's God knows how I'm grieving;
But His loneliness is calling, and He knows I must obey.
I just heard about this shocking news tonight, on my way home from the Sierras. First, I found out my brother in-law died yesterday evening when his car crashed in Malibu Canyon & then 5 minutes later, I get a flood of text messages. John Bachar died at the Dike Wall @ Mammoth.
I could not believe what I was reading. My very first climbing trip to JTree, John soloed Bearded Cabbage like it was 5.8. I had never seen such boldness before & I was amazed that he could be so calm, yet so bold. Later on, as I got to know him, I saw how focused he could be, but he could be a silly, goofball a minute later. He was priceless. Goodbye & RIP my friend.
I only met John a few times when I was much younger, but was always struck by his graceful relationship with gravity, his playful bond with stone and his passion for working magic in the mountains as naturally as possible. The pure wildness of his legacy and the magic he created together with so many rock monoliths will surely live on for the ages in a funky mountain beat carried on by Sierra winds, those incredible thunder clouds and the folk who like to crawl around where its steep.
I know it must be hard for those closest to John, he was truly a hero to many of us in the community of climbers
I only met John the once, but was immediately struck by his generosity, his passion for climbing and his incredible story telling ability. Here's a video extract from the interview we filmed with him in July last year:
A great light has gone out............I was awed by John and his style.........talked to Brenda Lugo yesterday and she was devestated! Never got to climb with John but on a few occasions got to play music with him, always wanted to record something with him..........going out doing what you love is the best way to go! John, you have inspired thousands to push forward.....good on ya! time to put some Coltrane on. Mattly Trent
I'm left speechless... and am overwhelmed by flashbacks of good times I've had with John over the years. Since I just learned this news, it still hasn't sunk in that he is gone. I'm especially sorry for your loss Tyrus, this will not be easy for you. If there is anything I can do to help, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sad and speechless... your fathers good friend- Craig Calonica
I've waited to post, just being with the reality of what has happened and reading the other posts. Enjoying the photos too. I won't be writing this to John, he's not focused on the internet now. It's for those who just didn't get enough of John while he was here.
I didn't know john like most of you did. Yes, I'm a climber. Having grown up in Mammoth how could I not be. The first time I encountered John was early '80s, I was just seconds off Vice Gripped/American Wet Dream when when John came running off the route. A quick nod or hi and he was off in the distance. No doubt to another route. With common friends and moving in similar circles, we never really met until after he moved to mammoth. In the mid '90s my [then] wife Kathy who worked with Val, was telling me of visiting them after work and how this guy was a really good and pretty well known climber. There were even posters of him hanging around. The backyard set-up too. It's interesting that after admiring him as a climber all those years I would come to know him more as a parent than anything else. I couldn't believe when Kathy told me they were having a baby. She said not to tell anyone. I don't even know if John knew at that point. I was one of the first few people in the world to know that John Bachar was going to be a father. I think I was the first person to ever baby sit Tyrus away from his home. Definately his first overnighter. Tyrus had me and my (4) kids in stiches at dinner freestyle rapping.
I can't tell you a lot about details of john's life, when we were together we mostly just shared the space. We were comfortable just being together. If we talked it was most likely about microphones or recording techniques or a mechanical design. One day he came to me and said he needed a trade show booth. They cost about $4,000 and weren't very strong. Could I build one for half that and make it better. Well, it was a rush job and I wish I cold have made it to my usual standerds but Salt Lake City was happening and I finished it just in time for them to pack it up and hit the road. I'm sure many of you have seen that booth. I made some money, but was mostly just happy I could put some love into his new venture. It even survived the crash. (Which I thought was the "instead" of what has just hapened.)
Super long posts a drag so I'm cut it short(er). I'm don't care for people all that much, but I can honestly say I loved and liked John. Whenever we talked in Vons, I wanted to just go off together and talk about something important. Or just give him a hug, which I never did. We really never got down to the good stuff. Maybe it didn't need to be spoken. Val, if you're reading this give me a call 914-0999.
p.s. I can't leave this without relating how more than once I would be out somewhere towards Crater Flats cutting firewood and after shutting the saw down, hering sax notes wafe through the forest and knowing - who else could it be but John.
ouch, pretty bummed out here. john was no less than my total hero for the way he climbed and stuck to his guns. while on the rescue team in the 1980's in the meadows, he influenced us to make some of the sickest runouts ever. as far as i know, my route "burning down the house" that i put up with kurt smith has still never been repeated. for kurt, scott burke, scott cosgrove, john middendorf, and others, his ethics instilled a sense of pride that to climb these runout routes, one had to be fully commited in the mind as well as the body.
in later years, when i talked to john by phone, i could tell that having a son had mellowed him into a kinder, gentler, john bachar. i'm so sad that i will never get to talk to him again, but his legacy will last forever. whoever has ventured onto the bachar yerian knows what i am talking about. john, you were the greatest, thanks for teaching us that climbing is not just about the difficulty, but that it is also a cerebral path to enlightment. ciao for now brother, steve schneider
I have fond memories of Bachar. Like the time he and Tobin were "race walking" around the loop at Humber Park. Or when we all woke up to find snow on our sleeping bags one June morning in 1974 and then headed off to Big Rock for a fun "no hands" ascent of The Trough. John Long would say that his Bohemian name was Yano Baaher. I still think of that name when I remember Bachar.
whoever missed jb's story of the bachar yearian in the latest alpinist(26) should check it out. it is the story of one of the greatest adventures in the history of rock climbing. it is the first time i had ever heard john's rendition of this epic journey(although i had heard yerians campfire rendition). strange that he would write this tale just before his passing. I'll miss you john, you were a true inspiration, and a fellow blonde at that. ciao, steve schneider
Dylan Thomas' poem on going gently into that good night strikes a chord
in us all, surely. And earlier in Lester Germer I had seen a person who had
decided not to change, even for a day, the way they wanted to live. But still.......
With continued existence we all have new opportunities to contribute. And
since the end ultimately comes whether we wish it or not, in the last analysis
what we want no longer controls.
Even so it is still possible for one, as they are being drawn away, yet to reach
back and to try to build....
I am in Venezuela now, with family. Yesterday I did little but trowl through these threads. The memories I have of JB just kept flooding my mind, made all the more powerful because the best ones, the strong ones came down when we both were teenagers.
Like going to his Mom´s house to snag JB on the way out to Tahquitz, and having a sit down with her (because I was the older and `famous´one - ha) to establish that JB was capible, safe and sane. Or the time his dad accompanied JB up to Yosemite with the proviso that JB could only climb 200 feet - then he had to rap off - a rule we broke straightaway by climbing Reed´s Direct. And out at Josh, discovering So High, White Rastafarian, and a thousand other problems. Cajoling JB up his first freesolo (Doublecross), which was like releasing a shark into the ocean. Driving out to Colorado to meet Gill, and doing all the problems on the Mental Block, Eliminator boulder, soloing the Gill Crack and scaring the crap out of each other, bagging the sensational stuff down in Pueblo like the Ripper Traverse and all the rest. And all along, slowly but surely, easing into higballing (then just watching JB soar so far above the rest of us we could only watch in awe and wonder).
And taking JB and Kauk up their first big wall - The Gold Wall, which we almost did all free, in four or five hours. Doing Astroman, running laps on Butterballs and New D., going to jazz concerts, smoking bushels of ragweed, working out like fiends, pounding nails with Burton and Sutton, climbing in Mexico, drinking Mescal and swallowing the worm in the bottom of the bottle, haggling over girlfriends, soloing fifty routes in a day out at Josh - and wanting to grab JBs leg when I got TOTALLY sketched on a grainy 5.10 face about a mile off the deck, driving crap motorcycles from LA to Yosemite and watching JB duct tape the throttle wide open, bouldering each other into the ground at Roubidoux and Stoney, and just last week, 35 years later, working on a story for the Stonemaster book.
All of these things I must now let go . . .
In three hours, my youngest daughter graduates from high school, then jets off to Germany as a foreign exchange student. Life goes on. The youth take over the world, just as John and I charged into our own BITD. When I recently wrote that John was one of the greatest adventure sport athletes of the last century, I meant it. But more than that, JB was a part of my life. I´m reminded of the lines by Young that Rich Goldstone posted earlier (as always, thanks, RG) -
What if I live no more those kingly days?
their night sleeps with me still.
When my dad first told me the news,I couldn't stop crying. I loved my uncle very much, he was a great guy, quick to laugh, and always thought of others. Tyrus, I'm so sorry for your loss, and know were all here for you. Rest in Peace, you will be greatly missed.
Man, what a blow. I was so stoked to check out the taco this morning after an incredible trip this weekend which I was going to write up into a trip report. Then I see this thread on the front page, my heart sank, my eyes teared and I worked my way through the thread.
Like many hear, John was an inspiration to me as a climber. I could fully appreciate what he could do, even though I could no way approach what he was capable of doing.
I met him about 20 years ago briefly at a climbing shoe demo day put on by 5.10 at Donner Summit. And that was it until I found the taco and got in touch with John via e-mails. We discussed ethics and it really formented for me what mattered and how to approach climbing. I had a vhs copy of a tv segment of him soloing Oz in Tuolumne. He said that when his house burned down he lost his copy of that segment, and he was unable to find anyone that had a copy of it. So I had it burned to a dvd and fired it off to him. I'd talked about climbing with him in the future as we were planning to head down and visit family in so-cal. He said just get in touch with him and we'd hook up.
But I digress. I'd sent John a picture of this granite dome and saying we should go climb it. Probably much more of a dream than reality, but John was always motivated to climb.
And that's where we headed this weekend. I thought I'd do some climbing with the family, but the trip was shortened and ended up as just hanging out at the beach getting sun burned and trying an approach to the dome for recon. We didn't even get to the base for good photos, but I did spend some time scoping it from binoculars and seeing some amazing features that I've never seen on a granite formation. I was totally stoked to zoom in the digital photos and send them off to John.
I'd also been working on getting up to Alaska to do one of his slide shows. We'd been trying to figure out a venue, and then I'd been in touch with Simon trying to pull it off. But sadly all thos plans are now gone.
John truly was an inspiration as a climber, because he had a wisdom about climbing. He boiled it down to the essence, you start at the bottom and you go to the top. That may sound like a cliche but it really does take wisdom to boil something down to it's essence. John will be greatly missed because he was so much more than just a great climber. He was a great man, as testament by the writings of his friends, acquaintances and admirers.
I've often wondered what it was that I was reaching for, what was it I was trying to see and understand when I gave my heart and soul - so many times for so many years - to these rocks. Perhaps John B. would know.
My mind has just been wandering since I recieved a call on Sunday, about someone falling at the Dike Wall. They thought it could be Bacher. I immediately called Johns phone. My heart sank when Tyrus answered the phone, something I was completely unprepared for. I was at a complete loss for words. Tyrus handled the call with a composure way beyond his 12 years and showed a concern for my loss.
My first memories of john are from 87 when I was just getting into climbing. He would solo around Hidden valley at the end of the day. Often it would be John and Peter Croft, and to me it was show. He was a god.
I got to know John when he moved to the Eastside after his house burned down in Foresta. We started hanging out the first winter he was here. There was only a handful of guys that were consistantly climbing in the Gorge through the winter. So it didn't take long before we became friends.
He saw that I had an interest in photography and asked me if I wanted to take some photos of hom soloing in the gorge. I was really impressed by his keen understanding of climbing photography. He taught me alot of the techniques he used while working with Phil Bard. Phils shot of John soloing Oz is one of my favorites. I think John told me the original was lost, what a shame. He took me to Spain to document some of his climbs there near the Boreal factory. In a way our photography relationship came full circle when I talked him into photographing my wedding.
He taught me about Jazz.
Driving with John could be quite an experience, especially over to the Valley and back. Or in Spain, in a car with no seat belts on highways without speed limits. He probably would have done well if given the chance to race cars at some level.
I had the privilage of hearing first hand all his climbing stories. On sight soloing the Moratorium, Patagonia with Bridwell and Graham, freeing Astroman are just a few.
He called me from Vegas after he soloed the Gift the first time and wanted me to come take some photos the next time he did it. I came down the next week and brought my wife,(at that time my girl friend). We went out to the Gallery early in the morning when the light would be best for the shot John wanted. Nobody else was at the crag yet. John warmed up on some easier climbs then he soloed the gift. My wife said to me something like," What's the big deal about that. That didn't look hard!". A few hours later she had a different perspective. After watching numerous people work the the route with out a single redpoint she said," I think I understand now". He made everything he did look so easy.
His climbing spoke for itself. To me that was just a part of John. There was so much more to him than his amazing climbing ability.
I remember his excitement about becoming a father. There was hardly a time I saw John that he did not speak of Tyrus.
Ours lives went in different directions during these last years . I would only see him at the post office or market, but often we would end up talking for 10 or 20 minutes. He was a genuine man and friend. I will miss him.
I know I am running on but this is my way of saying good bye to an old friend who will be greatly missed. Good bye, John.
Two years ago I lost my friend Michael Reardon. John Bachar spoke at his memorial @ Malibu SP.
Most of the stories of Michael were somber and it was sad to hear the family and friends crying at these remembrances.
When John spoke to the crowd and began to recollect the times he and Micheal had spent together, the mood changed dramatically. Through his words, the entire crowd recognized the friendship Michael and John had shared. He talked of how he admired his friend and how he thought Michael was "the real deal". People were nodding and smiling at the wonderful stories.
John brought back a part of Michael that day. The part that brimmed with enthusiasm and passion. He was able to channel the positive energy and happiness that existed between he and Micheal.
This was a moment I will never forget. A friend speaking dearly and truthfully of his care for another. A true friend with no agenda other than to pay homage to a beloved comrade.
It was an example of class and respect. To me, this is what made John Bachar a great man.
What modern rock climber hasn't been influenced by John Bachar? I shared the same hometown of Joshua Tree with John for many years;.....seems like the barren desert with unlimited climbing and bouldering suited him just fine. I can't tell you how many times I saw him driving his Toyota 4-runner up to the Park....usually alone for a workout, solo session, or to explore. Playing music with Donny, Big Al, Bachar, Mike Paul, and John at the first big Access Fund gathering in Joshua Tree community center;...playing music at a New Years Eve party for hours at Karen's house in Joshua Tree.....Party in his funk/rap stage.....playing the piano for maybe 4 hours straight with John on the sax....stopping only to open another beer, and not more than a handful of words spoken;....only music, the late hour, eyes barely open slits but minds awake and alive as the music flowed like a river. Working on a certain jazz riff...again and again and again and again until we got it or grew tired of it...... Looking through telescopes at the stars and moon at Ryan campground with John and others on a night when the sky screamed out a million dots of light;...a site the city folk seemed blow away by, but the desert rats take for granite. John taking pictures of Kurt Smith on the FA of Black Out in Tuoloume Meadows while Lechlinski, Mari and I watched in amazement as Kurt ran it out , stopping every 30 or so feet to hang on one hook to hand drill a 1/4 in. bolt. John watching 10 people fail on Asteroid crack,...not taking his turn though, because he was recovering from an injury;....going to to John's "secret" workout area at the "secret" Gunsmoke area.....seeing a Bachar ladder, pulleys connected to metal drums filled with sand , and that now famous traverse... Sitting on top of Intersection Rock and having John show me these new shoes called Fires that he got in Spain, and how they were better than EB's.....(yeah;....SURE........) Bachar joking around while soloing Right V crack in Indian Cove, while some tourist trys to "talk him through it..."......Visiting John's place in Mammoth with the wild super-high climbing wall and workout area;....John doing extreme workouts at the gyms in Yucca Valley;..the pullups with weights around his waist. ......hearing Little Al describe taking photos of Bachar soloing Father Figure twice and making it look 5.7.....and Bachar's girl-friends/wife.....Brenda, Stephanie, Jean, Val, Anestasia,.......(I'm sure I missed a few there....)......visiting John and Stephanie at their place in W. Yucca years ago......and yeah; ...watching him float up Left Ski track on Intersection and then up the huecoed face right of Upper Right Ski Track time and time again............The beers, cigarettes, reefer, .......the diliberate and static way John climbed.....Soloing The Gift in Vegas;.....what if a hold breaks?.....John replied;.....I don't pull on the holds;.....only pinch them...........Trade shows, slide shows, parties, magazines, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Eastside, Tuolumne, ........he set the bar, he established the rules, he walked the walk.......a big influence in my life. ......Now a days, the best climber in the World changes week to week, month to month, magazine issue to magazine issue, climb to climb, ......when I was growing up.....it was John Bachar;...best climber in the World;....period......year after year after year after year after year..........Rest in peace, my friend;...you will be greatly missed by many, and your influence and spirit and inspiration rages on with strength, power, and pride.
i have been out of town for the last few days and i cant believe this.....i grew up in mammoth and now live in humboldt which is where val (his ex) and his son now live....his poor lil boy....so sad
i am not a climber, but john was one of the 1st peopl i ever played music with....what an amazing sax player......later on i found out about his climbing and coulndt believe he did what he did without ropes....he told me "we are all gonna die.....and when i go i hope it is on a rock"
its crazy because i was at a music festival this weekend talking with vals boss from here telling her that exact story.....on sunday morning
he was a great musician, dad, and climber.....but mostly he was a great guy.
the climbing world and mammoth especially will miss him....mammoth is very small and when we lose someone the whole community mourns
. . .Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to
draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countlss ideas and splendid plans: that
the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues
from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforseen incedents and meetings and material assistance. which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
W. H. Murray
From Everest, the West Ridge, by Thomas Hornbein
Bachar is dead. Never thought I would ever hear that in my lifetime. Great climber who left a son behind because he had to go solo some 5.10 shitpile.
F*#k John -- what were you thinking? Your neck was fused from that car accident recently, and you were out of shape. And you decide to go soloing? F*#k man!!! What the hell did you go and do that for? Lots of tears for ya dude, since there was a man behind the myth (caring, funny as hell, always willing to give beta, and one of the best story tellers around). But dammit -- soloing now? So pissed I can hardly type.
I am lost with this. We survived the accident and now somehow I have become the only survivor. I had three people I loved deeply and in four short years I lost each of them. No, there is no reason to this, no logic.
I couldn't wait for the day for John to find his way, to see him happy without the stresses in his life. I knew Paola would lead him into better days. One where he would mentor the future of this sport. One where he would enjoy the beauty of watching his son become the fantastic man he is destined to be. One also where our friendship will not be constrained and we could share a beer talking about the good times. Now I have no one who remembers, no one who was there. It is so strange, so tragic that I am lost.
i was under the impression he was not gonna be soloing anymore after the car accident......but anyone that knows him will tell you that he was way to stubborn and would have been miserable not doing it anyway....tyrus is a tough kid, but i cant imagine his pain right now....they will be back here on friday and i will get the details i need
Around 1986, I was 13 years old and I was becoming obsessed with climbing. I had 3 posters on my wall that I must've stared at for hundreds of hours... the Boreal "On a Lamb" poster, the Gramicci "Oz" stemming shot (in white painter's paints and red tank-top), and a classic Chouinard poster of JB on a gorgeous blue-colored Verdon route (damnit I can't remember the name).
Thanks for the inspiration, John. You changed my life, no doubt about it...
Here is a portrait I took of John a couple of years ago in Josh. He and Coz were out soloing whilst Al Dude, Boone, Jenn and myself were hanging out taking pics and just enjoying being in their presence. I think of all those yesterdays and wish they could all be put in to just one tomorrow. Thanks John for allowing me to pull down on some of the same holds that you had.
With a heavy heart and still numb from the shock of this tragedy, I too wish to pass on my condolences to Tyrus, Val, John's family and friends. His passing doesn't seem possible. John seemed immortal.
I got to know John when he first moved to Mammoth. I gave him my old ski equipment and watched him take off with glee and reckless abandon. He also dabbled in golf. John was not a golfer though as much as he tried.... it was funny watching him hour after hour bludgeon that poor little ball with a set of golf clubs. He just grinned in resignation.
However, he was second to none on the stone. His feet so precise and deliberate, fingers positive, in perfect balance and control.... everything I saw him climb seemed effortless and routine. He floated up cliff walls. John was a visionary in his climbing and ethics. With just shoes and chalk bag, he exemplified climbing in its purist form.
I am grateful and fortunate for the memories and the inspiration. My life is richer having known John. It was an honor. I will miss his smiles and jokes. The climbing world has suffered a huge loss. RIP John.
The first time I met John I was waiting on him in the Broiler Room. He was having dinner with Sharon Blasinggame at a window seat. Sharon said to me “What happened to your hands.” I told her “I was working on Bachar Cracker before work.” She said “Do you know who this is.” I said “yes.” I have had the good fortunate to have known John since his teens. The last time I saw him was at the Loony Bean in Mammoth. I had my chess set in front of me and Tyrus and John came over Tyrus wanted to play and John said OK but we have to go soon. I was able to take most of Tyrus’ pieces and then I noticed and said “you have a mate in one.” Tyrus was only about 5 and he thought about it, for a minute, and beat me. John taught him well, John could always beat me.
I broke down crying at work today, at the thought of John’s death. I was right in front of a Minister, I had only meet this Buddhist Minister a week before. We talked and he brought up Carlos Castaneda, an author that John was familiar with. Reverend Bill told me a story from one of Calos’ books. I will paraphrase it. “We have both a blessing and a curse of a bird on our shoulder. It is the bird of Death. We can choose to ignore it, but it is still there. We can choose to acknowledge it and make use of the time we have.” John was always awake and aware of the time he had. I value the time that I have spent with John and will always find him an inspiring force in my life. Thank you John for sharing your time with me.
Back in the day in Yose we would whisper "Wow, their's Bachar"
He was the Dude! I just lead Outer Limits for the first time, and felt good about myself, then John walks up and floats up Crack A-GO-GO, and I got wicked snail eye, and my hands started to sweat, just watching!
so sad to hear of john's passing. he was truly an inspiration to a generation of climbers, myself included. had the honor and pleasure of climbing in the meadows with him on a few occasions and the audacity of going after some of his routes early on with al nelson, who is also no longer with us. can't say we were ever close, but i'll be missing him all the same. hope he's found the peace we're all looking for, he was a true master. -fierce tiger on rock
I met John through Dave Yerian a few times and heard many stories over the last three years. So sad to have lost him, a superhuman climber that could do things I would never imagine possible. I was fortunate enough to have known him through Dave and to have been able to see a slideshow of his that offered a small glimpse into his mind and his world. I'm very sad for Dave to have lost this man with whom he shared so much.
It was around 1975 and I was leading Toe jam in josh for the first time and here comes Jb down soloing the route. when he saw me he just casually traversed and down climbed a 5.10 c to the side of toe jam. I was stunned and changed forever. thank you John. I am very sad that he is gone and glad that he lived so fully. Ernesto ale
I never knew the man, but I feel as though I did through stories from friends of his. He was definitely a dear friend and an inspiration to both the hard and the novice. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest. There leaves us a noble prince in the vertical world. Christina and I are thinking of you Anastasia and our condolences to you as well as the rest of his family and friends.
I am really saddened by your loss Tyrus. What a shock.
Those that knew John are very aware of how much he influenced people and a generation of climbers. On a personal level, JB encouraged me "to go for it" and have no regrets. It changed my life forever and I owe it all to climbing, so in some way I really owe a lot of it to John and his influence.
I am grateful to have known him and to have been inspired......what else can I say?
So here I am again tonight trying to process the death of someone that was not only life and light to his own family, but a big piece in my own life recently.
Unusual situation today took me back to a place I went last night but had not been to in months....La Jolla Village Cove. Decided to find a quiet spot and ask God ..."what the heck are you doing ? "
So I did....thinking, processing and praying I asked God..... Would you please send me something special tonight to let me know that you are still in control. That this life that is gone, that so many needed in their own life will be taken care of. Jess askin' here as we be devastated.
May not mean much to yo out there, but minutes later I heard bagpipes playing.....playing songs of hope and grace. Whoa, I thought...what a grate CD.
But no CD, it was the answer to the cry of my heart for help. For a special measure of Grace. For a ....hey there I am still here and love you all.
There on the cliff was a bag pipe player, a real live bag pipe player.
Watchin' the swells come in I realized I didn't have a clue ....Some just die out and some waves break big. John's broke big on the outer swell. So we'll miss his inside break.
A man that was instrumental in big and small ways in so many lives. Gifted by Grace. Thanks Dude. Miss your mails and ideas. See ya in the heavenlies. Lynne
Humbling to even post as I saw John climb maybe 2 times over 25 years -- in Josh, and under an overpass that sheltered a makeshift climbing wall near Palm Springs. I'm just one of the many who followed his bootprints around southern california, though seldom up the same walls.
But I have to pay tribute to someone who lived his life exactly as he choose, no compromise.
And I'll bet the Pearly Gates were climbed, free solo, on July 7 at 12b.
This was sent to me by an old military buddy.
It was written by a fellow named David Ritchie.
I like the way it came across, so I'll share.
One of my heros died yesterday……
This is not to indict those who were, or are, simply, climbers. In the climbing community there have always been other sorts of characters too—for some, climbing was the end in itself, and what the world did with that was up to them. John Bachar, who died yesterday while climbing solo in California , was one of those. He was a pure rock climber who redefined the sport by ascending sheer rock faces of extreme difficulty without ropes to protect him in the event of a fall. What he did was athletic achievement at the highest levels of human ability and training, on par with the skill and discipline of Nadia Comeneci, Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, or Michael Jordan. His climbs, only a few years earlier, had been deemed impossible, even roped; climbing them without protection was as absurd as if a man had presumed to fly. But Bachar did fly. And as a result, one can’t compare his numinous climbing to climbing: instead, you have to compare it to art. To explain it best requires words used for Beethoven’s transcendent ninth symphony; it was an “expression of the divine.”
John’s contribution was nothing less than profound To those who could appreciate his absolute mastery on the rock, he revealed a glimpse of nearly unbounded human potential. Just as a Miles Davis recording can astound new listeners, future climbers will struggle up a route John soloed, and gasp in wonder at how much is possible.
I spent a fall in Tuolumne once - my partner and I overlapped with John, his parther (Ron Peers) and Brenda during the last climbable weeks of the fall.
One of my fondest memories of John was him chuckling at my partner and I as we showed up at the gym with pockets loaded with beers and the stench of ragweed clinging to us. It was a contrast in styles.
Almost 30 years later and in an email John recalled that day and was saddened to here that my partner had left early in a motorcycle accident. That was so cool of him.
I can easily say that John's spirit and drive made him one of the more influential personalities in my life. Right up there with the likes of Muhammad Ali.
It interesting how some individuals can transcend greatness. COrny but true.
'From Tara's heart - rainbow light shines forth throughout the six realms and the Bardo...enveloping the decesased one whereever he is, purifiying his karma and infusing him with Tara's radiant blessings. His form becomes a brilliant sphere of light and dissolves into Tara's heart-mind -- a realm beyond the cycles of suffering, a realm of absolute purity and bliss.'
Your light will be remembered by all that were connected to your bright spirit, dear John. And it was and is perfect.
Jo Sanders - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
That's John in Verdon, France, on the cover of that 85 catalog.
Yeah. Standard setting climb there too, I'm sure.
But, same trip produced "Chasin' the Train"? I seem to remember so. 1981? Was at the time one of the hardest routes in Europe? Still a coveted "tick", methinks.
Its interesting, the shoes he's wearing on that Chouinard catalog. You can tell its not an '85 (or even '84) photo. EB's. French shoes for a french route. Classic. By that time the Fires were all the rage. I think I picked up my first pair the same time I scored the poster. Bumped me up a grade, to be sure! Probably as much mental...
I gotta keep this bumped up. It is such a shattering moment.
I remember watching the JT crew soloing like maniacs BITD, and ended up soloing a bunch (starting the next day). Bachar was very influential, and not just about soloing. Maybe one of the last loud voices for style as an end in itself. I was only five years younger, and never made it close to his level, but I could explore the limits of my own meager boundaries thanks to that crowd opening my eyes. I was 18, just led my first 5.10, and I soloed it the next day. I was in total control, so it didn't feel like any big deal.
So when I heard this, even though I never knew him well enough to call him my friend, the news made me feel like I had been hit by an asteroid. Not Bachar. No way.
I had my brushes with him in passing like a lot of us. It was kinda like meeting your hero in a way, but of course that is a little silly. But impossible to ignore as a teenager. There were the others, of course, also pushing things. Kauk comes to mind. It was just a time and space when a number of qualities and personalities intersected in some weird nexus, and caused the standards to make one of those leaps that we see periodically.
He was human like the rest of us. I will miss just knowing that he is still around and breathing.
I give my sympathies to his son and all of you old farts who influenced me as a child and lost a friend.
Was outside Tuolumne Meadows store yesterday to find at the center of the bulletin board a John B. poster with "Bacher Lives RIP" on it. Around it were torn slips of paper from climbers seeking partners and gear. So fitting and cool.
Prior to that he seemed to be a mythical figure, larger than life and unapproachable.
I never met him, but I got to know him a bit through his posts here and some e-mails.
I don't feel so bad for John himself, as he lived and died by the sword - he understood the risks better than anyone.
But it pains me greatly to think of his family and many friends he has left behind.
Im filled with dis belief, and sorrow !
JB has been a inspiration to me and the climbing community for a very long time. It started Way back as a freshman in highschool, when I had a rack full of stoppers and hexes and His poster of soloing outer limits proudly hung up on my bedroom room. Next was a NEW pair of Boreal Boots for x-mas, no more eb's for me! I had on the same shoes as my mentor, that's about as close as I came to climbing like JB!
Over the years it was a hi here and there, or a blank stare from ME as I watch him so gracefully float a hard route at the Cookie or elsewhere, which often times was beyond my leading ability!
He was also so COOL to all how watched, and always inspired me to climb up, to flow with the rock and the experience it was offering!
You my friend will be greatly missed
I met John at Kern Slabs, above Lake Isabella, southern Sierra, a really long time ago...
I was young and a total newb. His climbing had inspired me more than anyone else in the climbing community at that time. So there I was, up on the slabs, soloing routes, ...and up the trail comes Bachar. He looked at my shoes (EBs) and said,
"hey, how's it going? you really should try MY SHOES, they have this crazy new rubber, I think you'll dig them".
So he took off his shoes and I put them on.
They were way too big for me. Huge. I could not even come close to filling them.
I looked like a cartoon character.
But I was determined to wear THE MAN'S shoes!
I couldn't believe how sticky they were and I felt like a spider.
So he and I bouldered around the base of the wall, then moved down to the lower valley along the Kern River and bouldered together...taking turns wearing his shoes.
He was so cool to me...just as you hope your mentors will be, but really rarely do they live up to it all.
Well, my stoke has lasted for over 30 years. I turned 50 this year. I'm still like that young man he met, still fired up to climb. Grabbing each day as it comes, and driving my truck like I stole it.
Thanks John for being so good to me just when I needed it.
I can see you loaning your shoes and getting people stoked in that place out there where I can't yet follow.
Rest in peace. My heart aches for his family.
I already wrote a message with my personal feelings earlier. I just wanted to report that John's passing has had a big effect on the climbing community here in Spain, especially among the people around his age. Some of them knew him from his Boreal connection. He really had a big effect on climbing in Europe, getting people to quit pulling on gear and to try to climb free. Here in Spain people have the route Chasin' the Trane in Frankenjura as a reference.
I'm very saddened to hear of John's death. Damn, but living life is dangerous! and yet he was particularly good at living life. I know nothing of his family but can only imagine their pain. They have my heartfelt sympathy.
The Climbing; Yosemite, JT, Dexter Canyon, The Gorge, Mammoth
FA's, Bouldering, Bolt chopping and speed lowering
The Saxaphone: Funk, Rap and Jazz
The Crazy Car Rides: thru Yosemite, the back raods of JT, dirt roads of the east side, the hill @ Deadmans 3
Encouraging me to be a nurse, just like his brother, how I hated those math problems
The Wooding, Bachar Style, giant pinons crashing to the ground
The Cleaning: Foresta, Joshua Tree and Mammoth
Babysitting Tyrus as a small boy, seeing him now as a talented young man, so much like his dad
All those other girlfriends, so many heartaches
He Was and Always Will Be, The Love of My Life
John- Thanks for all that you have provided for us to enjoy. You, your climbs, your style, music, adventure, stories... will be missed. The history you have left behind will last forever... All the best in the your life ahead!
Someone just left a music message on my answering machine, couldn't place it but i think it was a Miles davis' track. Trane would have been more fitting but i'll take Davis.
Thanks, whoever it was that left it, (Russell, Keith , or Prunes, maybe) Put a smile on my face thats for sure.
Some of the very things that make a man great can also make him seem difficult.
Bachar is like a classic mountain, steep on all sides. Potentially challenging to approach, you have to come to the mountain.
I respect that, but also deeply appreciate in recent years, John became more assessable and helpful to more than the Elite. His utter concern and Love for Tyrus was notable and his remarks about relationships were so sincere and full of Good faith.
Being more human is just as tall as being a better climber.
Doing so when you are a Titan and Legend, just makes it a grander feat.
I've been following coverage of John's death in the news media. There are about 40 googlenews links so far, although not so many actual stories. A lot seem to be local and regional California papers picking up from what was in the Los Angeles Times. But it's pretty clear that to a greater or lesser extent the mainstream media is getting information about John and what happened from the threads on SuperTopo. That, and consideration for John's family, suggest that we should continue to take care as to what we say here, and how we say it.
It was 1989 when at Low Profile Dome in Tuolumne a curly blonde super fit guy walked up with a small boom box and proceeded to solo every route around us almost as performance. I was especially interested in his elegance and strange footwork. He was standing on the tops of his toes, as a dancer would in point shoes. I asked him why he was doing that and he said it was because he was experimenting and of course because it was fun.
Over the years, though I did not know John well, I have been inspired by him and enjoyed talking with him-particularly about art and music. He was truly a legend and defined California climbing in so many ways. He will be missed. My condolences to Tyrus and to so many of his friends. -Amelia
Quite a blow to realize one of my heroes is gone. A year younger than John, I grew up climbing at Stoney Point and remember the inspiring influence he had on many of us. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
When my husband came home from the gym and told me of the loss we were both super sad.
John is and was one of the few people I had known about from the climbing world before I met my husband. I began rock-climbing at the Westchester YMCA. I kept it up for a while going to Stoney Point if and when I could find a ride. I was always impressed with the handsome blond guy who would climb without ropes. They called him Spiderman. I did not know then that he was a Westchester local. When I went to collage at UCSC we climbed C dorm at Merrill Collage for lack of better local climbing. It wasn't until I met and married Ki Bum Lee (a Stone masters influenced, Yosemite diehard big wall climber from Korea) 8 years ago, that my brother-in-law told me John Bachar went to Westchester High with him. He played tennis with John's brother. He remembers watching when John decided to free solo the JC Penny building in Westchester. Creating a commotion both with police and fire. I couldn't feel more proud that such a huge climbing persona had been a local boy. On July 4th they had the local hometown Parade and they mentioned the 1960s band the Turtles from Westchester High, and I thought yea… but what about John Bachar.
My husband and I got a chance to meet him and talk with him a couple of years ago after a slide show at Santa Monica REI. Shortly after the car accident. I think the audience all knew each other. Proving that no matter how big L.A. is, or any other town, or the world, the climbing community is in some ways intimate. After the slide show he was very relaxed and friendly…( we were at home). He was and will always be one of US. We will keep your memory alive but your presence will be sorely missed!
I’m saddened by the news. Condolences to his son and family.
To those of us that knew him, the memories of the time we spent with John will live on. He was naturally gifted, with superstar athleticism, and for a period in his life of over a decade, was, in my book, the best rock climber in the world. He trained harder than anyone. He dedicated himself wholly to the sport. No one had smoother or purer technique. He was the one to emulate. He had a great sense of humor, sharp intellect, and a musical soul.
He was a gifted teacher, and taught many the fine points of technique. You could learn great lessons just by watching him climb, or by tying into the same rope with him.
To those that never met him, the tales of his climbs will become the stuff of legend, and he will reside in the pantheon of the greatest of all time. His flame burned brighter and more intensely than the rest of us, but was extinguished, sadly, all too soon. May God be with him.
And to think, On Sunday I picked up Largo's book, Jungle Monsoon, after year's on the shelf and read "The Only Blashphemy" about a day of soloing with Bachar.
Bachar was one of my heroes during my short climbing career - and while I never followed his handholds into a serious climbing career, his and others' lust for life inspired me to chuck it all and spend a year mt biking through South America.
I noticed the words "love supreme' in the first line of this excerpt and found it very fitting:
But the love of the soul is love supreme. It is love in our spiritual essence and of our eternal belonging. In this deep love we ascend above our emotions – how we feel, what’s troubling us – and into the realm of mystical, non-material essence, the realm of the ecstatic.
For in our souls, we are all warp and weft of the one great seamless cloth, woven together of all that we have been, all that we shall be – our victories and majesties and sorrows, our tragedies and grand heroic moments. In the soul’s love we sense far within us, as if written in faint, faded ink on the ancient notebooks of our genes, that we have all been all things - both male and female, parent and child, abuser and abused, villager and king. To behold one another through this great encompassing love, love indivisible, love uncompromising, brilliant, radiant and immense, is to behold the whole of human history, the face of God, in a single human being’s eyes.
from Heart & Soul, by Daphne Rose Kingma (see works by Daphne Rose Kingma )
I met John in 1973 bouldering at Stony Point in LA. He was an arrogant, buck-toothed, skinny guy; obviously smart and motivated.
He and I were both in 10th grade, probably had not dated a girl yet, and were simultaneously jockeying for position in the climber hierarchy of southern California. We were then, quite competitive with each other and were both mentored by the likes of Long, Accomazzo, Graham, Shockley.
When several years forward things changed forever, Mike Graham read aloud to the cadre of us beach boulderers, John's handwritten letter describing his free solo of New Dimensions; everything changed forever.
It wasn't until John and I both found ourselves living in Camp Four that we began to find our commonality, exploring things far beyond how hard we (or what we) could climb. He and I often ate meals, bouldered and nurtured our injuries together. I discovered then, that John had a depth of emotion and intellect that was not evident on the surface (especially in that hyper-competitive realm.)
Though I know John dealt with his white/male torment (as many of us and especially climbers have), I watched him evolving in what I can only describe as a "spiritual" path.
As many have mentioned, John lived to the fullest (even up to his last moment), and taught us the importance of focusing on what we love, fighting the downward pull into mainstream mediocrity and remembering to seize the day.
JB will live forever in our culture and within us. Thanks for your gifts to all of us John.
I remember parties at John's house in Foresta before it burned down. Dancing with John when the Erratics played in the Valley. Looking up,up,up in the Owen's River Gorge at some crazy person soloing near the top...and then realizing "Oh, it's Bachar!"
Peace to Tyrus who is left with a heavy burden to bear.
I haven't communicated with any of you for a very long time. Once in a while I look at this board.
I just couldn't let Yano's passing go by....
Any of you that remember me, I want you to know that you are all very dear to my heart!
I have many photos of John that few of you have seen. Unfortunately they are all old slides. If I can get them converted to photos, I'll post them here. Mount Woodson, JT, Yosemite, etc. Some follow-the-leader free soloing Yano, Yabo, Mike and Mari, I don't know who else.
So many memories...
Way too many to put here.
Mostly, just watching him climb. Effortless, absolute grace, perfect strength perfectly applied. Dedication and mastery. He knew what he wanted to do and did it with complete singlemindedness.
I'm still in the Yosemite area, Oakhurst actually. If there's a memorial it would be great if someone could let me know when and where.
Climbing was no longer a geek sport...
We had this guy, who was obviously a genius
Looking like a goddamn surf god,
Who could fukking climb without a rope,
Then blast hi-brow jazz on his sax at night
At enchanted desert digs...
That sax changed everything;
Hidden Valley was better,
So-cal climbing was better, too.
the sun bright reflecting in the granite
your movements a smooth dance
climbing so high
you fall into memory
let me tell you one more time
you matter to us all
let me say one more time
I love you
now as I can’t sleep
trying to comprehend this loss
I feel you smile beyond my sight
Letting me know that one day we all shall fall
and you will be there to catch us
for love is eternal
it’s always here
I had the pleasure of doing some soloing with John, Scott Cosgrove, and Dave Shultz last year the day of the Joshua Tree climber's reunion. It was a great experience with 3 great people that I will always treasure. I have known John for about 20 years now, and he had always been a hero to me since I started climbing. Far from being conceited about his unparalleled accomplishments, he always seemed very humble about them. I remember coming down from Sentinal rock one time (circa 1989) and seeing him, clad with a walkman I could hear clearly, casually soloing Bikini Whale. No fanfare, nobody taking pictures, or even watching. I reminded him of that recently and he couldn't even remember soloing it. Just another day on the rock for John... I doubt if it has been soloed by anyone since, or will be anytime soon. What John was obviously proud of though, was his son. It was great to watch the excitement in his eyes when he demonstrated some of the magic tricks he and his son were mastering together.
To John - who will be reading this from the lofty ethereal clouds where all other climbers / mountaineers will eventually dwell and share their stories ...
I never met you, but you have been an iconic idol in my climbing career especially routes in Yosemite many moons ago.
Rest in peace, and remember that Jonathan Livingston Seagull aspired for more speed and was more motivated than the rest of his seagull clan. His life may have also been shorter than the rest, but he is also in the place you are resting in now with achievments that none can match.
As most here know, John was seriously hurt in a car accident three years ago, while returning from the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City. His business partner Steve Karafa died in the accident.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
A sonnet written in 1941 by John Gillespie Magee, an officer in the RCAF, a few months before his death in a collision while training.
Although the poem relates to flying, it has many elements which could be about John.
I never talked to the man, but saw him in J-Tree a few years ago. I never said hello, but the circumstances meant that introducing myself was out of the question, being as I saw him at the base of lower right ski track upon rushing to aid a lead fall accident that brought a chopper... John was the last thought on my mind then, but he's the first right now.
The man continues to be an inspiration, and in the predominantly rap bolted sport area I call home, I'll continue to bolt ground up, and lead the chossy conglomerate cracks onsight, on gear before they can be bolted. Not only is it more pure, but it's MUCH more fun.
Thanks for the lessons from afar in respecting the rock, condolences to family, friends, and an entire community.
I remember a story that a guy that looked kind of like a young a young Cosgrovel told me once.
Said guy had a rock fall on his hand almost severing a finger. He showed me it, maybe a year later, the extensor was history, but he could still pull with it.
" After the accident, I went to the meadows and hung out, drinking beer, day after day... One day John came up to me (at Tenaya Lake?) and said something like, "what are you going to do, sit here and swill? or get back into it?" Then we went to the sar site and worked out, then I got back into climbing."
Now for some substance. John's origins as a climber were with the Stonemasters, a lively bunch of teenage climbers from the southlands. Threads with stories and photos of the Stonemasters, including many about John, and some contributed by John, are as follows. Each thread is 100 + posts.
I had the supreme pleasure, with my family, to experience John's slide show 2 months ago here in Humboldt County (at Far North Climbing Gym). Inspiring and jaw dropping. John knew my x from the early 1980s, Yabo. When I asked about Nita (my roommate in Yosemite), he mentioned SuperTop. I went there that night, and saw the numerous posts of Yabo, which which warmed my heart, and connected with old friends. Thanks John. Respectfully, Irma
At one point in the conversation John hung from a slopy slot with one hand about seventy feet off the deck. He never lost the rhythym of the conversation. This was where a lot of so called men would be crying for mama. He casually rotatated at the wrist for a couple of seconds, boned out, taking his time, telling Johnson and me about the Goats, a politically conscious band he dug, and how he had heard about the Swimming Hole.I had seen first hand over the years that the man had gifts, but every time you watched him do his magic it was as though you were alive to hear Coltrane play Giant Steps, or Love Supreme. The man moved like Ballachine with the power of Bruce Lee; only an idiot would'nt be slack jawed by the experience. The man was poetic in life and will be beyond,and his humble graceful movements over the terra will not go unnoticed. He found rhythyms in places only the boldest will ever dare to go, and he committed himself to that ethos completly. He dedicated his soul to the Earth long before he flew from mortals reaches. This was a man who sung a great song that will always ring in the coccles of my heart. Peace and Love Brother, from Marko and Terrill with Great Affection.
John, walked the walk. He always put the rock first, style was more important then success, and commitment was the price.
In soloing, there's no hangdogging, pulling past the crux, or yo-yoing when your tired, I'm thinking he just dyno-ed to heaven!
(from: Daily Readings from the life of Christ, by John MacArthur)
All my retail prints and swag are sold at printing and shipping cost. Typically I ask retail folks to contribute on a sliding scale via paypal according to their means and generousity. In this case, if anybody wants a print of John, I encourage them to get what they like and wait first to see if the family desires a memorial fund for Tyrus, and donate to that
I only had the privilege of seeing John Bachar climb twice, and only interacted with him three times in all.
He died yesterday in a fall, climbing I presume without ropes as usual, at the age of 52.
John Bachar was world reknown in the tightly knit climbing community for climbing routes without ropes that most people wouldn't be able to complete even with ropes.
We call it free soloing.
I saw him climb the first time in Red Rocks Nevada with my former wife and a good friend and fellow climber.
He was doing a photo shoot of a climb called The Gift, which is rated 5.12.
For non-climbers, the five tells you that normal people will want a rope to catch them if they fall, and the 12 is on a scale from 1-15 to tell you how hard it is within that context of roped climbing.
Only professional climbers climb things harder than 5.12, and only very talented athletes can climb even at the 5.12 level on a consistent basis.
Very few people would even contemplate climbing a 5.12 without a rope.
Watching Bachar climb The Gift, again a 5.12, was simply awe-inspiring, because his technique was so flawless.
He made zero errors.
Maybe that is why he liked climbing without ropes, because you cannot make errors, or you die.
To people outside the world of climbing, Bachar's art, free soloing, has always seemed evidence of madness; even a lot of climbers debate about that.
I met Bachar, and he was not crazy in the slightest.
The second interaction with John Bachar was indirect.
I had broken my leg, climbing unroped, but not on something one would call a free solo, because it was not tall enough to generate the rational expectation that a fall would generate your death.
John Bachar was at the gym I climbed at, so my former wife went there to see if I could get an autograph; I was kind of down at the time, and needed some inspiration.
Bridget brought a poster I had of Bachar free-soloing some hideous 5.13, and waited patiently in line for Mr. Bachar.
She told him my story, and would later tell me that she could see a very quick, if somewhat cocky, minds' wheels turning.
He then wrote:
"Don, always climb with a rope. John Bachar."
I always heard that he had a wry sense of humor, and not bad advice, after all, I fell.
The last time I saw John Bachar was in 1994.
I had returned to climbing, and he was in the same gym with me as in the poster episode.
When he walked up to the climbing wall, a buzz developed among my fellow climbers as we all silently realized that we were being graced by the presence of a climbing god.
You could see a small smile curl at the edges of his lips, as he gracioulsy shook everyone's hand and said,
"Hi, my name is John. Mind if I jump on this rope here?"
You can't climb unroped in the gym, insurance rules and all.
He then proceeded to put on the single most impressive climbing demonstration that I have ever seen.
Up fifty feet, down fifty feet, up fifty feet, down fifty feet, and on and on with no breaks, and on nothing easier than the 5.11's that I could barely do on my very best day, and Bachar did it all without a flaw.
It was beautiful to watch.
He was the real deal, the man, every bit as good an athlete in his field as Federer is at tennis, and on a lot harder road to fame, because there is no fortune in climbing.
At least in tennis, you can make good money.
In climbing, you can get some equipment deals and such, but money is always tight compared to your companions, especially as you grow older.
It is not easy being a 52 year old professional climber, like Bachar was when he died, especially because a lot of the people less committed to the art have quit long ago for more conventional pursuits.
I don't know what motivated John Bachar to pursue his passion for free soloing to the outer bounds of what is humanly possible, being willing at times to be homeless to do so, just camped in a truck or tent on the floor of Yosemite Valley.
I do know that in my experience, he was a kind, funny, gracious man, and I wish all his friends the very best at this time of loss.
We here on Supertopo need to hear from the Golden Age climbers from the 50s and 60’s.
From what I can tell, wonderful John Gill has been the only one among them to tie on here. And John Stannard too. I would include Richie Goldstone but he isn't old enough yet (g).
There are plenty of these older guys left; they aren’t all dead. And they are fully aware of what John Bachar meant to climbing. For God’s sake many of us younger climbers have been to their memorials and do certainly still look towards these men as partners. There is no justification for their highly conspicuous absence, their laughable "eminence grise".
We need to have them speak to our community now, join in our collective pain and worldwide loss here. We have come upon a milestone, not a good one, and we ALL have to speak at this time.
John and I had different specialties in climbing, but for more than thirty years, just knowing he was somewhere doing his inspired dance was one of the things that gave me strength to follow my own vision. John and I bouldered only one day together and roped up only twice, but that was enough for me to know him as a climber and person.
Over the years we'd see each other at trade shows, etc and always take a moment or more to chat. There was always good humor but I never saw any of the brashness or arrogance some people spoke of. Seldom was the conversation directly about climbing, except maybe tangentially. Usually, we teasingly discussed things of a more cosmic or philosophic nature. One gem of wisdom he left me with, twenty five years ago, was this: "Death is a gift." It was a parting statement-he didn't have to elaborate-he knew that I knew exactly what he meant.
I was really happy to be able to present John with a lifetime achievement award last year at an event here in Ogden. Two hundred and fifty people immediately rose at their dinner tables to give him a thunderous ovation.
I did not know John Bacher personally but I did know of his expolits (how could you not as a climber) John’s climbing inspired me to be a better climber, he was the pinnacle of what could be.
The first time I heard about Bachar was on my first climb, I was out at JT taking a first time class with Vertical Adventures in the early 80’s and John Long was out that day teaching or maybe just showing up for laughs, I don’t really remember but what I do remember is after the class John Long taking me off by myself over to some boulders outside of HV campgroud and showing me some boulder problems his friend John Bachar put up and we bouldered a bit (how cool is that). After I started climbing I realized how lucky I was to have John Long as a teacher and showing me Bachar problems on my first day!
Fast forward years later and I have not climbed in years but recently my wife has gotten into gym climbing so I wanted her to have some lessons on real rock so we are are out at Idylwild taking a class with Vertical Adventures again and the climber who put up the route we are on comes by and tells us JB just passed away from a climbing accident. I was stunned here I am out in the rocks after a long absence and the first thing I hear is JB passed…anyways so sad and it brings back many memories, of the rocks and trying to be a better climber inspired by what JB had done...just wanted to share.
"We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it”.
Rainer Maria Rilke
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Bachar made the unheard of possible and his climbing was perfection
I just got off a two week camping trip with my family, away from any news, and my computer. I came home to this news, and I'm absolutely stunned and saddened. What a great guy John was, and what a huge loss to the world--and the climbing community in particular. My deepest condolences to his son and family. I'm really having trouble wrapping my mind around this.
Unlike many of you here I’ve never met Mr. Bachar. Having only started climbing a mere 6 years ago, my experiences on the rock are far fewer in number than most of yours. But I remember the first time I heard OF John Bachar. After a long day of climbing in the Gunks, I was asking my friend and mentor questions about the boldest and best rock routes established to date. I remember he told me of a route called the Bachar-Yerian: a gnarly 5.11 with the potential for 80 foot wingers! Established ground-up, the route maintained a traditional style in the face of intimidating difficulty. To someone who would almost poop his britches leading 5.8, this sounded IMPOSSIBLE! Now, after a couple years of climbing in CA, the image and legacy of the legendary John Bachar loom as large as ever in my mind. His style and ethics have been a constant inspiration to me and will always remain so.
I’m sorry he won’t get to continue his craft; I’m sorry I’ll never meet him out at the crags, although I’ve always hoped I would; I’m sorry that such an inspiring individual has passed. But mostly my heart is filled with so much sadness for those of you who are his family and friends. Mr. Bachar sounds like he was not just a great climber, but a great person and a great father as well. I offer my sincerest condolences and deepest sympathies.
Maybe you could compare Bachar to Coltrane:
They did not invent their game
There were others before them and other after BUT:
They were visionaries who showed the world new directions.
Every one on the scene after were compared to them as they set maybe the ultimate standard.
The university I work at here in Bangkok is holding an international saxophone congress. Hundreds of players are roaming around the campus, playing concerts and playing in informal sessions around the lakes, in groves of bamboo and pine. It started on July 7th and ends tomorrow. I've been listening, and often I walk up to the players and talk to them about John. I tell them of his talents and of how he played in nature. One player from England climbs and knew of John but not that he was a sax-man. I will go again this afternoon, light some incence and seek out more players and tell of John.
I met John in the seventies, never did a route with him but we talked, and hung out some. He had focus and that I will always respect. My heart goes out to all those who love him, family and friends.
In 1971 Steve Wunsch and I did the first free ascent of New Dimensions, which turned out to be one of the many ‘first-5.11-done-in-Yosemite’ routes. That was the same year that John started climbing, at the age of 14. Steve and I scratched and clawed our way up the last pitch. As I reached the top, the very first thought that crossed my mind was “Someday some one will free solo this thing.” I am sure I had other thoughts about the route when I reached the top, but that is the one that has stuck with me over the years.
I spent many wonderful hours bouldering in Camp 4 and Tuolumne with John. He was always encouraging when I flailed away on one of his latest problems and kind to me when I managed to struggle up something he’d done. John was a true visionary. He single-mindedly dedicated himself to whatever training routine he had at the time. He worked constantly to improve his strength and technique.
I was with John the first time he did Midnight Lightning. I had done an easy route on the west side of Columbia Boulder and was walking to the top to climb down the tree on the north side. When I arrived at the top, John’s head popped into view; with a huge grin on his face he looked over at me and said “Bates, man I did it.” I will always remember John for that smile, his vision and the way he showed us all what climbing can be.
When someone told me that John had soloed New D I remember thinking, “Of course, who else would it be?”
wow. what a thread. I didn't know John very well, mostly just exchanges of pleasantries as he bought groceries at my register in the TM store back in the day. To my many friends who knew him well, Bea and I send our prayers and deepest condolences.
It still hasn't sunk in. I can't imagine how his family feels. I will be keeping them in my prayers for some time to come, his girlfriend, and those who love him, too.
John was always very kind to me. Worked on ads and things with him a long time ago. He had a very different, very funny sense of humor.
I remember the first time I met him at his home with Brenda. I had never, ever, seen anyone with such intense focus in his eyes. It amazed me. I figured it came from doing a thing extremely well, and having such deep confidence in what he could do.
After an Outdoor Retailer in Reno, we were all some place where there was dancing. The band was on a break, and a James Brown song came on, "I feel good, I knew that I would". John grabbed my upper arm and yanked me on the dance floor to bust out his best James Brown - Dancing in these tan boots like James. I had met this guy there who said he was playing with Maceo in Reno. Off we all went. He sure loved his music.
He was a fine artist and craftsman of his rock. I am so sorry he is gone. I do believe in God and that He knows our time. May John be joyfully in His presence.
I am John Bachar's age, and had some of the greatest experiences of my life in Joshua Tree, in that time when John was a young god, and I was a young man. Over the decades we passed a few words, and I climbed (or looked at with awe) a number of his routes; but he certainly would not have known me. I share the view that he was an exceptional artist, who inspired thousands of people to imagine what they might accomplish. However one cannot deny that he left a son without his father. I offer the following condolence.
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure." - Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)