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Rock Climbing : News : Obituaries : John Bachar Passes Away

John Bachar Passes Away

Submitted by vegastradguy on 2009-07-16 | Last Modified on 2009-07-20

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by John Wilder

by the friends of John Bachar

Update- July 15

"July 15: Friends and family have established a trust for Tyrus Bachar, 12, John's son. According to the family's lawyer:

'The trust will be revocable. After a while or after the funds have diminished or been spent there is no need to keep the trust going. The trust is being set up to get Tyrus through college at present.

Donations can be mailed via Pay Pal using the email For donations of any amount, please make checks payable to: Acopa USA/ TBLT, 2328 Jeanne Drive, Las Vegas, NV, 89108. Contributions can also be made at any Well’s Fargo Bank using the account name Tyrus Bachar Living Trust located at zip code 92626

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The acclaimed rock climber and free soloist John Bachar, 52, died Sunday, July 5, in an unroped fall while climbing on the Dike Wall near his home in Mammoth Lakes, California. Bachar was one of rock climbing's greatest pioneers, a visionary, whose strict code of climbing ethics, which included free soloing and respect for the natural environment, influenced generations of climbers.

Bachar began climbing as a teenager around Los Angeles. After high school, he attended UCLA for a year studying and took classes in advance calculus, philosophy and other subjects in which he achieved high grades. The following June he went to Yosemite to follow his passion.

A natural on rock and highly disciplined-he could do a one-arm pull up while holding a 12.5 pound weight in his free hand-Bachar quickly rose through the ranks and began climbing ropeless in the early 1980s. His ascents included routes so difficult and dangerous-such as Yosemite's Nabisco Wall (5.11c) and New Dimensions (5.11a)-that even climbing's elite had to take pause. In 1981, Bachar issued a famous "bounty," offering $10,000 to anyone who could keep up with him, ropeless, on the rock for a single day. There were no takers.

At the time of Bachar's boldest exploits, professional climbing didn't exist. Bachar, however, elevated the sport to the point where it gained national attention, and through spots in television commercials, product endorsements and even a feature about him in Rolling Stone, he became America's first real professional climber. During his nearly 30 years of soloing, Bachar estimated that he had climbed 1.5 million feet of rock without a rope, and up to 5.13 in difficulty. He influenced rock climbing as much as Elvis steered modern music.

Bachar, for instance, climbed in calf-high tube socks and high-cut running shorts. Virtually overnight, climbers across the country adapted the same attire. But it was his actions and larger-than-life personality that changed how people climbed.

In the early 1980s when most climbers were caught up in the drug-inspired spirtual adventures left over from the 1970s, Bachar was way ahead of the curve to introduce training, diet and the study of mental and physical training-unheard of at the time. Crowds would gather to simply to watch him train in Yosemite's Camp 4 outdoor gym.

Although he suffered a broken neck in an auto accident in 2006, Bachar-a rock-shoe designer for the company Acopa, of which he was a part owner-trained himself back into fitness, and continued to solo at a high grade.

While the details of his fall may never be known-a hold may have broken or he might have slipped-his death stunned the climbing community who considered him an icon, and, despite his constant flirts with danger, a responsible and safe climber. He is survived by his father, John, and son, Tyrus, 12.

A petition has begun to ask President Obama to acknowledge Bachar's contributions and send a letter of condolence to the family. To participate, go to For subject click "other," then write in your request.

From the family of John Bachar: The Bachar family is deeply and profoundly saddened by Johnʼs death. His passion for climbing and respect for the mountain never ceased. He was known to say that if the mountain took him it would be the way he wanted to go. As sad as his untimely death is, we try to take some solace in that. His passion and dedication to climbing was an inspiration to all of us; we are proud of his incredible accomplishments. It is a great comfort to know that he was not only loved as a climbing legend, but also as a beloved friend to so many. Our heartfelt thanks to the many, many who have extended their sympathies and personal stories regarding their association with John.

Sincerely, John, Jr. (father), Tyrus (son), Val (Tyrusʼ Mom), Dan (brother), Michele (sister), Yvonne (stepmom)

Go to the forum thread in memory of John Bachar.


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I am sad to hear about the loss to the climbing community and to his family. I do have to ask if a letter of condolence is really necessary or even justified. Climbing is inherently dangerous and free solo climbing is even more dangerous.
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Death come to us all, even though it is sad that John has passed, do we really need more Government in our lives? Would he have wanted such a thing? I propose we remember his greatness, for the man he was.
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Bachar was and will always be known as the best soloist in the game. He pushed the envelope, evolving the sport to the highest level. Legendary in all means!!! He will be missed, but not forgotten.
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