John Bachar 1957-2009

John Bachar 1957-2009

On July 5, the climbing world lost one of its greatest icons: John Bachar. While climbing alone at the Dike Wall near Mammoth Lakes, California, Bachar fell to the ground, though the circumstances of the fall remain unclear. Bachar died later at Mammoth Hospital on Sunday afternoon.

The free-spirited Californian was a symbol of American free climbing and free soloing, with a strong traditional climbing ethic. Bold, blonde-haired, surfer-esque and ever-charismatic Bachar will be remembered for many of his earlier achievements, including his daring 1980s free solos of Yosemite routes like Outer Limits (5.10c) (Climbing Magazine Issue no. 84), New Dimensions (5.11a), Butterfingers (5.11a), Butterballs (5.11c), as well as the sport routes Enterprise (5.12b), in the Owens River Gorge, and The Gift (5.12c), at Red Rocks (Climbing Magazine Issue no. 192).


On a rope, the Bachar-Yerian (5.11c R/X), a route he climbed on Medlicott Dome with Dave Yerian in 1981, still remains as one of Tuolumne Meadows' most notorious routes, with only 13 bolts — all placed on the lead and ground-up — in 500 exposed feet of climbing. Along with fellow free soloist Peter Croft in 1986, the pair made the El Capitan and Half Dome link-up in only 14 hours, a feat that to this day is still considered incredible.

John was 52 years old leaves behind his son Tyrus.

Pete Thomas of the Los Angeles Times has written an informative obituary here. has started a thread to offer your condolences: John Bachar - In memory of a great man 1957 – 2009

The following is courtesy of

In every sport there are men, myths and legends. In the world of rock climbing and free soloing without a rope, there is only one name that fits all three: John Bachar.

Controversial and uncompromising, Bachar pushed the boundaries of what was possible, and at the same raised the world's standards.

A true rock star as a teenager, Bachar soloed 5.11 when 5.12 did not yet exist. He bouldered harder and climbed stronger than anyone. He refused to compromise his strong traditional style "ground up" ethics along the way.

John Long says, "There has never been anyone like John Bachar, and there never will be again."

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

Rob Robinson says, "John Bachar was unquestionably the greatest climber of our generation."

Sources:,, Rob Robinson, Dr. Kristin Collins, Peter Croft

Classic John Bachar clips on


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The year may have been '89, and I was climbing at Joshua Tree with my brother Ken. Typically, we would climb there a few times each winter for a few days, and have a blast! One thing we really liked about JT was something not unlike other climbing spots where you camp out: the group getting all rowdy and loud at night would climb like demons during the day. In other words - the energy was flowing. On one such trip, we planned on going into the Wonderland, but decided to warm up on a 5.9 near the campground. I was about 90' up, about to place a piece, when I heard someone calmly and clearly say "On the right." I usually only hear this when skiing, and so to say I was surprised to hear it when I thought I was alone... 90' up a steep climb, is an understatement! Naturally, I turn my head towrd the sound, and stare into the face of this blond-headed guy, not only free-soloing the same route, but having stepped out onto pretty thin shit to do so. I had just met John Bachar, whom I saw later near his Toyota 4 Runner going through a bunch of gear with friends. Later that winter we ran into Lynn Hill over by Black Tide (she said she was doing some guiding with Russ), and I proposed to her... but that's another story. Dan Begley

Dan Begley - 11/17/2012 3:32:19