John Bachar... Inspirational Tales


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seamus mcshane

Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 6, 2009 - 04:05pm PT
Lucky enough to meet him once at Deadman's I 8/94?.

Watching him flawlessly STYLE every project of mine, I knew I had seen true mastery.

Thumping bass from the 4-Runner only feet away, I remembered a quote from Bachar, "Imagine your fingers are steel hooks..."

As I watched him float up one problem after another, I said out loud and to nobody in particular,
"His fingers ARE steel hooks!!!".

John's quote "Imagine your fingers are steel hooks" has always been my soloing (5.8/5.9 max) Mantra.

I think the quote is referenced to DR. ???

I am just sick with grief today, no way around that.


JB,RK,JP,WB Eldo 1975/6?

These youngsters look like they're having the time of their lives!!!

Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jul 6, 2009 - 04:11pm PT
This quote is what I always think of with respect to JB.

"Yosemite was THE place, Bachar was THE guy, that makes him more than just a climber."
    Peter Croft.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Jul 6, 2009 - 04:54pm PT
Two Bachar Inspirational Tales: both told before on ST
Was up in Tuoulmne on a "family" vacation, so I was up early one morning and I took my Mother in law for a walk out to the Lembert Dome apron. Quiet morning, not much happening, we're walking along and I'm trying to explain to her how this climbing thing is pretty safe and how we use ropes and protection to assure our safety! Really pilling on thick to reassure her that her daughter has NOTHING to worry about "her crazy climbing husband" all is safe. So up comes John in his SHORT white addidas shorts, chalk bag and shoes, no shirt, big bushy blond mop, looking like the climbing god. I introduce him to the Momms and she's all happy her son in law knows some other knuckleheads up here. Well John does the cordials and then continues up the apron and continues to solo up some slab climb. My mother in law has just listened to me tell her how we use ALL this equipment and how safe everything is and along comes John makin' look like we ARE the knuckleheads she thinks we are! She give me this look like she wanted to kill me for lying to her Thanks a big one for that John!
The other tale was about his generosity and kindness: I'm on another trip in the Meadows with a group of Russians in like 1988 or 89 and I take em up South Crack late in the afternoon so we can watch the sunset from the top. I lead the entire thing and there are 2 teams of three climbers. No big deal. So these Russians are some big time climbers from there, so I ASSUME they know all about the gear and all. Well I lead off and start pluggin' gear on the first pitch and look down at my belayer and notice he has no belay device on, nor is the rope going around his waist(old hip belay)so I shout down what is going on. Answer is, "you ARE on belay, in Russia we use dynamic belay", so I realize if I fall, I fall a long ways before they "slow" me down. No biggy, I'd done the climb plenty of times and felt comfy "soloing" it. So we do the climb, with no problems...until we get to the top. The second team is missing like almost ALL the cams I gave them. I ask em where they are and they tell me,"couldn't get them out of crack." I go ballistic thinking I've just lost about 1/2 dozen cams! So up early the next morning to go retrieve the cams before someone booties them. Me and my partner are at the big flake after the face traverse up high pulling out one of the cams, not having much success. I notice someone quickly soloing the route and then recognize it's Bachar. He comes up to our belay, we say hi, ask him to work on the cam, he reaches in and pulls it out like it's a prefect placement. I'm embarrassed, and John tells us to meet him at his truck when we get down. So I gather up the boys and tell them who they are going to get to meet, they're thrilled. We go over to his truck and John gets introduced all around, then pulls out a huge duffle full of prototype shoes(Boreal)gives a pair to each and everyone of them and spend all the time talking to and answering all their questions. It was the highlight of their trip to the US. They thought I was god for letting them talk with "Mr" Bachar. He was like that on many occasions, I miss ya John!
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Jul 6, 2009 - 06:00pm PT
I am not so sure this story is that inspirational but in the spring of 87 in Josh. I jokingly had a B-morning.

I had my babe, a bagel and beer for breakfast, and then soloed a route like Bachar. Wish I could remember the route - I think it was Gait of Power. Seems fitting with JB in mind.
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Jul 6, 2009 - 11:09pm PT
I moved to California in 1974. Being it was my senior year in a new high school on the other side of the country - I stood out like a zit in a beauty pageant.

Since I hated water - being a surfer was out. Despite dark hair and some remedial Spanish - the Chollos wanted nothing to do with me, the preppies thought I was a geek from South Carolina, and the stoners...well, they were too much for a weed virgin like me.

That left the really fringe guys to pal around with. Guys that would grow up to be engineers and therapists - they had one thing in common - they climbed around on rocks.

Since I knew how to tie knots from my days as a Camp Counselor at my old Boy Scout Camp (Old Indian - Atta Kulla Kulla Lodge!) they accepted me into the fold of those rock climbing weirdos.

I loved it.

Truth be told - most of our exploits were limited to farting around on Mugu Rock, or sessions at Stoney Point with some core side trips to Sespe or JT!. Yosemite - fuk! - that was serious shite and we were anything but serious!

So for the next few years we played around at being "climbers" - hung out at Coonyard's shop in Ventura spouting the crap, and reading the latest mags for the beta on guys like JB.

I did this half-azz climber life until the early 80's when I got married and got a career and produced a child which collectively pretty much killed my time on the stone.

But I still thought about climbing - and I still read Climbing every month and I still looked at guys like John as living the life and pushing the limits and I was in awe.

After my divorce in the mid 80's I threw myself into climbing as physical and spiritual therapy. I cranked on my homemade Bachar Ladder, lapped on my crackboard, and did pullups til I puked.

All the while, I still poured over the climbing rags reading the exploits of guys like John. Purity. That's what I remember about those articles. One man, one guy, just one calendar year older than me but light years ahead of me in terms of purity of action and commitment.

So one day, a foggy June gloom morning in Ventura County, I decided to commit. I drove my POS Vega wagon out to a lone boulder in Camarillo Grove Park and with nothing more than my beloved Fires and a bag of gym chalk - I decided to free myself.

With the roar of the Conejo Grade in my ears, I free soloed this 25 foot high lump of insignificant rock in the middle of a field of chaparral. With remembered magazine images of JB in my head, I told myself that what one man can do - so can another. It just takes commitment.

I did not fall. I did not piss on myself. I did not tell anyone for years. But what I did do that day was to briefly dip a small fingertip of myself into the rarefied air of people like John. I got the barest taste of what he must have felt everyday of his life. That day, that inspiration, that unspoken challenge from the grainy photos in some magazine made me dare to be brave.

I have taken chances ever since without fear.

I will remember this man for all of my days.


Boulder climber
Simi Valley, CA
Jul 10, 2009 - 04:58am PT
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.

Social climber
Jtree, now in Alaska
Jul 10, 2009 - 07:03am PT
post bump to a great man, and to get rid of Onyx the A-hole.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:30am PT

Dang son, you're all over the place this morning aren't you? HA!

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:25pm PT
folks hate to rain on any parade but I don't think that is JB in the pic.

Jul 10, 2009 - 10:33pm PT
Sorry marty

That is John. I can 1000% confirm it as I'm standing right there on the right.

The photo was taken with my camera in eldo canyon. Kauk and Jim Pettigrew are in the picture too.

I have the original slide right here in my place.

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:37pm PT
WB, I stand corrected. I never saw a pic where he looked so young before.

A hard right down Big Tujunga Canyon
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:39pm PT
Never trust a Stonemaster or a Prankster....

Jul 10, 2009 - 10:49pm PT
Here's a re-sized original scan of the slides.


A hard right down Big Tujunga Canyon
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:50pm PT
Hmmm, that bottom one looks familiar. I have a dupe of that one. Dale B following, right?

EDIT: hey, mad German rocket scientist, got any more from that day in Eldo canyon by chance?

Trad climber
The Great North these days......
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:51pm PT
WB, thank you.

Jul 10, 2009 - 10:52pm PT
Yeah Walleye.

Jul 10, 2009 - 10:54pm PT
Yeah Walleye

I have a shot of John and Ron K climbing in Eldo.

Have to go find it.

A hard right down Big Tujunga Canyon
Jul 10, 2009 - 10:55pm PT
Well, now that you have a scanner, I guess you won't be needing me anymore.

Weren't you scared leading those thin triple cracks when they were oh-so thin?
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Jul 10, 2009 - 11:59pm PT
Here is some inspiration:

In the B loop of Josh one time in my youth.... maybe 1983 or so. JB and me are blabbing about training or something..... then he tells me, "do something for your climbing every day". That was the key to getting better. Then he tells me I should plan on "peaking" with whatever I wanted to do in climbing by the time I was 26 or 27. After that he said it was all downhill!!!!

Well.... time has proven him correct in my case.

right here, right now
Jul 11, 2009 - 12:33am PT
Prolly ’86 or ’87…
I was renting from Dimitri Barton in Foresta.

Got up one morning to drive down into The Valley to:
“Drag dudes up routes by their weenies for spare change” (guiding at YMS).
Had this nifty little Toyota Corolla, which was all of a Boss Mustang 429, por Moi ...
(“It’s all in the mind” I once heard, from some guy ….)

Pulling the usual 1G corners, whistling my way to work, when Bachar nudges up behind me in the black Toyota 4Runner. So I floored it, and started really throwing the old bucket into the corners …HARD.
Laughing too, as John was right behind me turn for turn.

Somewhere around Reeds he made the pass; then pulled over at the T down at the bottom, (he must’ve been heading down Cookie or Arch Rock way), and as I motored up alongside to make my left turn, he flashes me a fat grin and the big thumbs up!

Totally hilarious, straight out of Top Gun.
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