John Bachar timeline 1957-2009


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 81 - 98 of total 98 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
May 3, 2012 - 12:39pm PT
When was John's very first ascent/free ascent? At least as recorded in guidebooks?
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Latitute 33
May 3, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
John's bouldering efforts and influence on that aspect of climbing should not be overlooked in any list of his achievements.
Johnny K.

May 3, 2012 - 03:26pm PT

Bachar is largely unapologetic about his contentious past, saying he doesn't regret the path he took. He estimates that in total he chopped around 50 bolts and thinks that maybe chopping wasn't the right thing to do. Peter Croft (another renowned soloist) didn't chop bolts, Bachar says. "He just did his own thing."

No one is apt to accuse Bachar of bending to the will of others. After his hiatus from climbing, he returned to the sport that he once lorded over. After years of other pursuits, he just got bored and realized that climbing was the only real deal, the only sport where you lay it on the line.

He says today he sees himself in a lot of athletes in the top of their fields. They're lonely, shunned, trying to gain acceptance by excelling at their sport. Says Bachar, "They have no clue. Only later, when you master your sport and feel good about yourself and make some money, do you realize that that sh#t isn't really that important. Then you relax and it doesn't matter so much."

He says, too, that ultimately you just have to climb because you dig it, a nugget of wisdom that he says "took him 50 years to realize."
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 3, 2012 - 03:26pm PT
all over again...

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 3, 2012 - 03:39pm PT
'09 was a rough summer for many of us.

BTW, the Barry (correction) wrestling incident was at Snowbird in July, 1989.

May 3, 2012 - 03:53pm PT
"1981 - FA of Chasin' The Trane; Frankenjura - first 5.13 in Europe, during International Free-Climbing Meet"

Not even close. Fawcett had put up a whole string of 5.13 routes by that time, many pretty gnarly trad leads that were put up without prior top-roping.

May 3, 2012 - 03:59pm PT
Who was out there that was anywhere near as good?

Kauk, Barber, Gullich, Croft, Hearsey Etc.

Ron didn't want free solo anymore.

Bachar wasn't the only one .......

Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
May 3, 2012 - 04:01pm PT
Didn't Bachar always say that he thought Ron Kauk was a better climber than he was?

May 3, 2012 - 06:44pm PT
Kauk wasn't better nor worse.

Just two different styles of climbers and personalities.

You people need to stop judging these guys.

They're all cutting edge players in the top tier ......
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 4, 2012 - 12:31am PT
I climbed New Dimensions with John in late August 1975, and it
wasn't long before that he free soloed New Dimensions. He told
me all about it, how he wired that last pitch and top-roped
it dozens of times, how he got real fit before doing it...
Still, a scary solo. Kauk was below and watched. At the top,
grabbing the final bucket, John pretended
to fall, kicking his legs free. Kauk broke into an instant
cold shivering sweat.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 4, 2012 - 12:50am PT
What Bachar said to me about Kauk was that Ron was possibly
the most naturally gifted climber he knew. I later heard him
say virtually the same thing about Croft....

I'm simply missing my mama.
May 4, 2012 - 01:02am PT
I was part of that car accident too. I am sadly the only one that gets to remember it too so don't sweep me under the carpet. It was a bit too mind twisting for such treatment.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2012 - 03:42pm PT

> "1981 - FA of Chasin' The Trane; Frankenjura - first 5.13 in Europe, during International Free-Climbing Meet"

> Not even close. Fawcett had put up a whole string of 5.13 routes by that time, many pretty gnarly trad leads that were put up without prior top-roping.

Could you be more specific?
Looking on wiki, I'm seeing:
1978: The Cad (E5, 6a) , North Stack, Gogarth, Anglesey[1] [4]
May 1982: Tequila Mockingbird (E6 6b), Chee Tor, Derbyshire[5]
1982: The Prow (E6 6b), Ravenís Tor, with Gill Fawcett, over 3 days[6]

E5 = 5.12c/d
E6 = 5.13a/b
according to the table in the back of "High Life - Sportklettern Weltweit" (Zak & Gullich).
But these E6s weren't until 1982.


I edited the car accident description to include you and some more details.
I wasn't sure how many details to share.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 5, 2012 - 12:49am PT
John Bachar in Mountain

Mountain 42 p12

The 1974 season saw little new-route activity at Taquitz. This was largely due to the shortage of aesthetic lines remaining on the cliff; it did, however, give added incentive to the clean-up campaign on aid routes.

The remaining aid on The Unchaste and Black Harlot's Layaway was despatched in fine style by Gib Lewis, John Bachar and Tobin Sorenson. Both climbs were found desperate, and are now graded 5.10+ and 5.11 respectively. Of the few new climbs that did appear, the least contrived was, Hubris (5.10), put up by Mike Heattr and Manuel Gonzales.

Mountain 45 p13

The East Face of Washington Column has been climbed completely free by Kauk, Long and John Bachar. This is an outstanding achievement on a grade 5 route that was originally graded 5.9, A3. The climb, which has been re-named Astralman is very sustained, and involves four pitches of 5.11, four of 5.10 and trhee of 5.9.


There have been some interesting developments on Elephant Rock. Hot Line has been climbed completely free by Kauk and Bachar. This is one of the most elegant lines in the valley and the first to involve 5.12 grading. The difficult section, which is on the first pitch, consists of a 5.10 crack followed by a 5.11 traverse (originally tensioned); together, these are said to add up to 5.12 in difficulty. In-situ pegs were used for protection.

Mountain 46 p15

Another noteworthy event was the first free solo ascent of Gollums Arch, on Twin Owls, by John Bachar.

Mountain 47 p13

Perhaps the most audacious piece of rock-climbing in the late season was John Bachar's solo ascent of the last three pitches of New Dimensions (5.11). This is the first 5.11 to be soloed in Yosemite; the last pitch is particularly precarious, involving wild finger-jamming and laybacking in a flared corner.

Mountain 50 p12

John Bachar climbed More Monkey then Funky (5.11), an often attempted 20ft. roof crack. However, rope drag proved a problem after the roof had been climbed, and a top-rope was necessary.

Mountain 51 p14

Jim Bridwell, Mark Graham and John Bachar climbed Great Moments in Baseball (5.11),...

Mountain 53 p14
John Bachar and Jim Bridwell put up Pinky Paralysis (5.11)...

Besides Kauk's Hot Line, current candidates for 5.12, or even higher ratings, would certainly include the Crimson Cringe and Hangdog, by Ray Jardine and John Lakey; Tips, by John Bachar and Kauk; Tales of Power, by Kauk; Overhang Overpass, by Jim Donini; and Coffin Nail, by Phil Gleason. No doubt there will be others.

Mountain 56 p12

Astroman, the name given to the East Face of Washington Column when done free, had two interesting ascents this June: Kauk, belayed by a partner who jumared the ropes, led all of the pitches free; several days later John Bachar climbed the route in the same manner. These ascents, compared with the tentative first free ascent by Kauk, Bachar, and John Long, bring Astroman into the realm of standard, although very difficult, free routes.

Mountain 58 p15

Two routes on Longs Peak had their first free ascents this summer.
After many earlier attempts, the Diamond 7 was finally climbed free by John Bachar and Richard Harris, who thought it hard 5.10.

Two recent ascents of note made here were John Bachar's free lead of Wisdom and Charlie Fowler's solo (and second) ascent of Perilous Journey. Earlier, Alec Sharp and Arnie Strapcans had made determined attempts to climb the second overhang on Wisdom, but Bachar eventually solved the problem by climbing round to the right, having belayed above the first roof.

Mountain 59 p15

The report published in Mountain 58 incorrectly stated that John Bachar had belayed at the bolt during his first free lead of Wisdom Roof in El Dorado Springs Canyon Bachar did not do this, but the second free ascent party did.

Mountain 63 p15

The all-time classic Diamond-1 was done completely free by Billy Westbay and John Bachar on July 22 (grade V, 5.11). Four pitches were graded at 5.11.

Mountain 65 p15

More recent developments at Suicide including Caliente (5.11) by John Bachar and Rick Accomazzo. This long standing face-climbing problem ranks as one of the most difficult of its kind in the area.

Mountain 69 p17

Leave it to Beaver (5.12-), had it s first lead by John Bachar. This and many other fine climbs including a free solo of Hot Rocks 5.11 (also by Bachar) were filmed by Dean Fidelman and are featured in a short climbing film.

John Bachar, Kevin Powell and Mari Gingery free climbed Rainy Day Dream Away (previously A3) at 5.11-. This follows an exposed arete and involves tricky overhanging face moves.

Mountain 71 p19

On the Sentinel are The Chameleon 5.12, a top rope climb by John Bachar and Mike Lechlinski to the right of Illusion Dweller. To the right of The Chameleo is The Rubberfat Syndrome 5.11 by Bachar, Lechlinski, Mari Gingery and John Yablonski. Not for Loan 5.10b, previously known as A2 was led free by Gib Lewis and Charles Cole. The first pitch of Where Eagles Dare was lead free by John Long at 5.11+. Across a short canyon from Rubbertat Syndrome is Against the Grain 5.10b by Cole, Lewis and Randy Vogel. On Houser Buttress, Hidden Arch was lead free by Lechlinski, followed by Lynn Hill and Long (barely!), at 5.11+. On the Brown Wall are two new routes that follow steep thin cracks on good rock. They are Brown 25 5.10d, and Jerry Brown, 5.10a. On the Wart is Compound W 5.11 by Bachar.
On the formation as you enter the valley are an un-named layback by Bachar, Dale Bard and Yablonski at 5.11+, a short thin crack Broken Glass 5.10b by Cole, Lewis and Vogel; and a fine thin crack Semi Tough 5.11 by Lechlinski, Gingery, Yablonski and Cole. On Hidden Tower- Not Forgotten was led free by Long, at 5.9 and later a mass third class.
Behind the campground are several new lines, they include A Woman's Work is Never Done 5.11 by Maria Cranor; Wet T Shirt Night 5.11+, by Bachar, and Torn Shirt 5.10c by Yablonski. Dale Bard and friends did Canned Funk a 5.10a roof crack.

Mountain 72 p16

...and John Bachar and Lechlinski climbed the impressive Cameleon on The Sentinel.

Mountain 74 p15

Probably the most impressive solo was of Leave it to Beaver (5.12) by John Yablonski, and later by John Bachar. It has seen much popularity as a top rope problem and local test piece. Also, Lynn Hill (5'1") did this route's complex moves and long reaches on her second try! Other routes seeing free solo action include: Left Ski Track, 5.11; Spider Line, 5.11+; Illusion Dweller, 5.10c soloed on sight by Yablonski; More Monkey Than Funky, 5.11; Bearded Cabbage, 5.10c; Right Ski Track, 5.10b; and the very bold Hot Rocks, 5.11b/c; by Bachar.

John Bachar climbed a very difficult roof crack further right called Zombie Woof, 5.12 (top rope.)
Dick Enberg was free climbed, without the 40' tree, (it was tied back) by Bachar and Lechlinski and is considered 5.12 this way. On the back of the Peyote Cracks formation Bachar climbed Baby Apes, 5.13 (top rope). On Echo Rock - Ten Conversations At Once, 5.10a lies in an arch system 60ft right of Stick to what.

Mountain 75 p16

John Bachar made the first free solo ascent of the Nabisco Wall at the Cookie Cliff via Waverly Wafer (5.10), Butterball (5.11c) and Butterfingers (5.11a). An impressive feat by any standards.

Mountain 78 p18

Randy Leavitt made the third ascent of Equinox Crack. John Bachar did the first ascent on top rope (5.12d) in 1978. Yaniro did the second ascent in August 1980. On this ascent, Tony lead the Equinox.

Mountain 81 p16,17

John Bachar, without doubt the most prominent of all, stopped in for a day or two. He repeated Koch platte (8) done by W. Kraus in spring '81, and Teamwork 8, a '78 testpiece by Muhe, failed on the Ameisentrail, "need more training" was his comment.

After having done their duty in the Altmuhl valley they came to Nuremberg to do some climbing. And two of them - John Bachar and Mike Lechlinski - stayed for two months. Here was the new inspiration needed. It was clear that they could do the classics on sight, for example the Dampfhammer (steam hammer), VII+/5.11a. Then it was the desperates' turn. Humbug (nonsense) VIII+/5.11d, Eraserhead VIII+/5.12a, USA-roof IX/5.12c and so on got some more ascents. Uberdach, a more than 180 degree steep 3 metre roof VIII/5.11 in the Fichtelgebirge was climbed clean for the first time.

Then came the turn of the Nuremberg climbers' testpiece, Sautanz (pigs' dance) at the Gcissweinsteiner walls. This line has been free climbed very recently by Kurt Albert and had been marked at the bottom with a small red circle. This circle means that yo-yo tactics have been used. After two weeks of preparing John Bachar made the second ascent and Wolfgang Gullich the third without yo-yo and the red circle was filled up to a red point. The red point is a traditional symbol that was very helpful in spreading the idea of free climbing in West Germany. A red point at the bottom of a climb means that the climb has been done free without putting weight on the protection points. The rating of Sautanz is 5.12c/IX. But 5.12 is not enough. After two days of hard work Bachar freed the old Norwand on Krottenseer tower, formerly A1, V/A1, 5.7. It is now called Chasin' the trane and is at 5.13a/X- the hardest free climb in Germany at present. Shortly after the first ascent Wolfgang Gullich could 'redpoint' it.

Mountain 83 p12

On Medlicott Dome, John Bachar added Black Magic (5.11+) which takes the black streak to the right of The Yawn. Bachar and Dave Yerian did the Bachar-Yerian (5.11+) which takes an utterly awesome vertical streak to the right of Shambles. It is reported to have a potential 60 ft. fall on 5.11 moves. To the left of Sweet Jesus, Bachar added You Asked For It, 5.10. This has 5.10 moves sixty feet out from protection. Just to the left of this, starting atop the first pitch, is the Bachar Flake Route (5.11) which takes a left-slanting flake to rappel bolts.

On South Whizz Dome, Bachar, accompanied by a variety of partners, added three routes on the vertical wall between the Prow and Rivendell Crack. Start Bouldering (5.11) climbs an improbable face to join the Prow just below the summit. Body and Soul (5.12) takes a direct line up the centre of the face to a difficult roof. Cheat Stone (5.10) starts on a three-foot high pile of rocks, but is totally devoid of protection on the first pitch.

Mountain 87 p20
...Verdon both done by Edlinger. The Chrysalis pitch was confirmed as desparate by John Bachar when he narrowly failed to lead it on sight.

Patrick Berhault's "bombe de Pichnibul" has been repeated by Edlinger, John Bachar and S. Troussier: Bachar graded it 5.12c.

Mountain 90 p14

John Bachar's Chasin' the Trane at the near-by Krottenseer Tower had to be down-rated to 9/5.12c after about 10 leads by a couple of climbers.

Mountain 94 p16

John Bachar climbed several high quality new routes. The Isotope (5.11c) is an ultra thin crack to the left of Chingando. The Promise is a 5.11 face route up the Footstool slab. The Omakara (5.11d) is a very steep crack located hundreds of feet up and left from the Arch Rock cliff. The Nightmare Continuation is a 5.11c crack problem above Pink Dreams on Elephant Rock.

Mountain 97 p13

Sepp Gschwendtner, The 'Grand Old Man of German Free Climbing' bagged the first 'redpoint' of Maud-Integral (IX+), a 'Flipper' Fietz boulder problem toproped in 1981 by John Bachar and rated 5.13a...

Mountain 103 p19

Later that month with Dale Goddard, he did the first free ascent of the original aid line of the Wisdom at 5.12 b/c. Now named St. Eve, this pitch steps left from the second belay on the "regular" Wisdom (the belay just over the roof), climbs over a roof (crux) and continues up a small corner with incredible exposure and an easier 5.11 face. This is one of the most spectacular routes of its grade in the canyon, and was tried extensively before John Bachar did the regular free variation which begins in a long traverse right from the second belay.

Mountain 115 p9

Also in that area, John Bachar's Sole Fusion was a victim of the ethics wars, as it was mysteriously chopped for no good reason.

Mountain 117 p8

Suzuki probably did the third ascent of Back to the Future (5.12b) as it was first done by Kauk and later by John Bachar.

Mountain 121 p11

Recently Ron Kauk established the first rappel-bolted route in Yosemite in nearly 18 years. The climb, Punchline (5.12b), is a spectacular line ascending the outside face of the Entrance Exam Buttress at Arch Rock. The climb, accepted by nearly all locals as an instant classic, enjoyed a brief and celebrated life before John Bachar returned to the Valley and chopped the route. This led to heated confrontations between Bachar and longtime locals Ron Kauk and Mark Chapman. During one particularly heated discussion between Bachar and Chapman a punch was thrown and Bachar ended up in the dirt of the Camp 4 parking lot. The climb has recently been rebolted and other rap-bolt projects are underway.

While at this point both Bachar and Kauk have their followers, it seems the majority of climbers couldn't care less about how routes are established. What they do care about is the flagrant misuse of bolts regardless of how they are placed. Most climbers feel the main criteria for judging a route's validity should be the finished product and whether or not it is a worthy addition to the Yosemite climbing community, not how the route was established.

Putting these ethical dilemmas aside, Yosemite seems to be finally awakening from the big sleep that has engulfed it for the past eight years and is poised to retake its traditional position at the forefront of world climbing.
[Watch this space!]

Mark Chapman

Mountain 122 p50

Biased and Destructive Reporting
from John Bachar

Dear Editor,
I was saddened to read the piece in the Mountain 127 Info section entitled "Yosemite Brawl Over Euro-Ethics as Bachar Bashing Season Opens'. This report more appropriately belongs in the Opinion section rather than next to the factual reports which regularly appear in the Info column. Not only is the sensationalisation of violence demeaning to myself and other local traditional climbers, but the article does nothing constructive to help the involved parties solve their problems. Is Mountain magazine's sole purpose to make a profit, or do they also wish to Bachar Speaks Out help the climbing community? In such a heated issue the magazine should have contacted people involved on each side of the controversy.

As far as Mr Chapman's opinionated report goes there are many errors and outright lies. He states that the rappel-bolted route Punchline was ". . . accepted by nearly all locals as an instant classic . . ." . The fact is that nearly all locals were appalled by Mr Kauk's actions and he is without a doubt aware of it. Only a year ago he was telling younger climbers that ground up climbing was the only acceptable way to establish a route. Had anybody else rappel bolted a route it would have been removed. Apparently it is acceptable for Mr Kauk to break his own rules.

Chapman states that "During one particularly heated discussion . . . a punch was thrown and Bachar ended up in the dirt of the Camp 4 parking lot." The fact is that only Mr Chapman was "heated" and when he could not continue the discussion in a rational manner he punched me without warning in the neck. I had to go to the hospital to receive treatment for nerve damage to my neck and upper arm. Many would argue that the removal of rappel bolts is an offensive act, but it must be said that the placement of rappel bolts is just as offensive to the ground-up climber as the removal of rap placed bolts is to the rap-bolter. If a top-down climber has the right to place rap-bolts on a ground-up climber's future route, then the ground-up climber has just as much the right to remove those bolts. In everyday life many conflicts arise and are solved without resort to physical violence. The use of physical violence is a totally unacceptable approach to the solution of any problem and should not be condoned by anyone, the press included.

He further states that ". . . the majority of climbers couldn't care less about how routes are established". The fact is that the vast majority of locals do care about how routes are established and even if it were the case that the majority of climbers didn't care about how routes are established, it must be recognised that minorities have rights too. By looking back in history to a time when a majority of people were in favour of the enslavement of the negro minority or when a majority favoured the slaughter of the American Indian, we can learn that the tyranny of the majority is not always just. In fact it is often irrational and mob-like. The traditional ground-up climbers of Yosemite have rights that must be respected.

Mr Chapman also states that " . . . Yosemite seems to be awakening from the big sleep that has engulfed it for the past eight years . . .". The fact is that Yosemite produces some of the hardest ground-up routes in the world to date and the standards are increasing every year. Only because top-down routes are equated with traditional ground-up routes via the usage of the same numerical rating system do Yosemite-style ground-up first ascents appear inferior. After all what is harder, doing an on-sight, on-the-lead first ascent of a 5.13b or doing a top-down, rehearsed, preprotected 5.14a? They are two different games, born of opposite approaches and producing different results. Perhaps Mr Chapman could awaken from his own state of deep sleep by attempting to repeat some of the face climbs recently established by talented young climbers like Steve Schneider or Kurt Smith. The sad fact is that neither Mr Kauk nor Mr Chapman have even tried to repeat the hardest routes of today's gifted young Yosemite climbers.

Unfortunately the main questions in this controversial issue were not even alluded to in the report over the "Yosemite Brawl". How can the freedoms and rights of both parties be preserved and respected? Can top-down rappel-bolting methods co-exist with traditional ground-up methods within the same climbing area? The speed of rappel-bolting will allow rappel bolters to take away all of the best new routes before ground-up climbers even have a fair chance to attempt them. Within a short period of time the local ground-up climbers will have virtually no first ascent projects. This unfair imbalance will cause even greater friction within the climbing community and assure the continuance of more bolt chopping and violence. The speed of rap-bolters vs. the slowness of ground-up climbers causes a natural resource usage conflict that must be addressed if we are to see a viable solution to this matter.

People bashing and bolt removal are most certainly not the best solutions to this difficult issue. Neither does the insensitive exploitation of people's problems by the press help the situation. It is sad to see such biased and destructive reporting in a prestigious magazine like Mountain. Hopefully, in the near future Mountain can offer its readers a more enlightening and thorough analysis of this emotionally charged issue that is not only tearing apart Yosemite but other climbing communities as well.

John Bachar

Mountain 128 p7

In a trouser-filling effort, John Bachar soloed the popular Father Figure, then later soloed it again for photographs. Father Figure is the new campground classic established last year by Cosgrove. It is easily found by walking to Barker Dam, then heading East for 200 yards behind a slabby formation to a small canyon. It is 40 feet tall and overhanging with 4 protection bolts. Bachar also soloed Bikini Whale (5.12b), another bold effort. Reportedly (but yet to be confirmed), Peter Croft tried to solo Equinox (5.12c), but downclimbed from the top crux move (65 feet up). It just goes to show that you have to know when to say when.

May 5, 2012 - 10:51am PT
Not sure if you got my e-mail Clint.

Chasin the Train is given 7c...12d...In the current Frankenjura guide.

Fawcett did Hells Wall (7c+, old style sport manky pegs etc.) at Bowderstone Crag in the lake district in 1979, a few tries spread over one weekend I believe. Yo-Yo'd but no dogging.

Other routes such as Cave left-hand Gordale, Eye of the Tiger in Dovedale, The Great White in Pembroke are considered 7c+ but don't translate very well since they are trad routes.
Strawberries is considered really hard route although its often given 12d sport equivalent.

Really, more than his hardest routes, what was impressive about Fawcett was the huge volume of classic mid to hard 5.12's, many really bold, that he did in the early years of the 80's.

None of which diminishes the amazing stuff that Bachar did. As Werner says...different climbers, different styles.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 5, 2012 - 01:09pm PT
Thats funny Ed, I didn't know that Bachar freed D7 with Richard Harris.
I thought he was just an actor.

and he didn't do everything free either. I heard he took tension in A Man Called Horse.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
May 5, 2012 - 01:26pm PT
there is a lot of fun with the "renaming" in Mountain and the subsequent corrections in later issues...

Mark Hudon was "Mark Hudson" in his first appearance there... seemed to have been a systematic bias towards Hollywood...
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 5, 2012 - 01:35pm PT
Actually just left a message on Harrison's phone. lol

It was a british publication,..
Messages 81 - 98 of total 98 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
spacerCheck 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

guidebook icon
Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta