John Bachar dies soloing

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 07/07/2009
John Bachar, Mike Graham, Ron Kauk. Photo: Mike Graham

The legendary John Bachar, whom many felt was the greatest American rock climber of his generation, has died whilst soloing near Mammoth Lakes, California.

Bachar, whose solo exploits dominated his climbing career, was found at the base of the 80' Dike Wall, which offers around 25 routes from 5.6 to 13b on excellent, featured alpine granite. There were no witnesses to his fall.

Born in 1957, Bachar started climbing in the early '70s and went on to become widely acclaimed in Yosemite for putting up its first 5.12, although more so for his audacious solos of New Dimensions (5.11a) and Nabisco Wall (5.11c).

One of his greatest achievements is the now famous Bachar-Yerian on Medlicott Dome, Tuolumne Meadows. On this 500' route, climbed ground-up in 1981 with Dave Yerian, he placed just 13 bolts whilst precariously hanging from skyhooks. Graded 5.11c R/X, this was a landmark route and is widely respected as still defining boldness and traditional climbing 28 years later (Bachar describes the ascent this year in Alpinist 26).

Bachar was part of a new wave of climbers that developed a highly structured training regime, climbing full time, researching nutrition and developing exercise equipment such as the hanging Bachar Ladder, which became widely adopted by climbers of the day.

In 1986 with Peter Croft he astounded climbers with an early enchainment of two big walls: the pair climbed the Nose on El Capitan and the Regular Route on Half Dome in just 14 hours. By the 1990s he was soloing routes such as The Gift (12c) at Red Rocks for the Masters of Stone video.

Bachar lived at Mammoth Lakes, where he owned the rock shoe company, Acopa.

There is a thread remembering John on www.supertopo.com

Obituary by Ed Douglas in The Guardian



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