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Remembering John Rosholt

Submitted by sisterjane on 2011-05-19

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by Jane Rosholt Watkins

Memorial for: John Nicholas Rosholt, III

Family, friends and climbers are invited to celebrate the life and memories of John Rosholt at NEPTUNE MOUNTAINEERING in Boulder, CO on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7 pm.

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John N. Rosholt was born in Denver, Colorado in 1956 and grew up in Lakewood, Colorado. He attended Lakewood High School and Western State College in Gunnison Colorado, majoring in Geology and a member of the Climbing Club. He continued his love of Geology by continuously pursuing what types of rocks were best suited for his beloved rock climbing passion. John began rock climbing at age13 around Boulder and while at Lakewood High, he was mentored by Vice Principal, Richard Pownall, member of the 1963 American Mt. Everest Expedition. During the 1970’s, John learned to crack climb in Yosemite and continued using his Big Wall skills in the Black Canyon. He was quite proud of his first ascent of Journey through Mirkwood on the intimating Painted Wall and another of the Plunge , describing he and his partners as young kids having an epic. After college, he spent the next few decades climbing around Moab-Canyonlands, Red Rock or Joshua Tree in the spring and fall, then during the summers off to Yosemite and Squamish, BC, but as the snow arrived, he headed south to El Paso to climb Heuco Tanks for the winter. John’s climbing nickname was “the Gambler” as he played poker in order to support his climbing. John learned how to play poker watching his father and Geological Survey friend’s monthly poker nights. John excelled at the game and this became his means of support for his rock climbing lifestyle. He said, “you can lose your life climbing, but in gambling you only lose money”. His life was best described as a calculated risk as he was certainly the ultimate gambler.

John became a very well known “trad” climber. Pete Takeda wrote in his 2005 Rock and Ice article, Without a Trace, “Hailed as one of America’s best traditional climbers in the late 1990’s, he was known for a methodical, almost scientific approach. Not only could Rosholt calculate the odds on a tough pitch, he could hedge his bets with precise footwork and a sober poker face. Rosholt was an equally brilliant poker professional”. His life for decades was traveling around the country, climbing during the day and playing poker at Indian reservation casinos at night; his friends would never know when he’d show up for a climb and his home was where he parked hit truck. He lived in Las Vegas for several years and established many new routes in Red Rock and his Black Velvet 5.11c signature climb Texas Hold’Em. In 2001 John purchased a townhouse in Scottsdale, AZ; he continued climbing with a new group of climbing partners in AZ and helped develop “Homestead” where he had many legendary climbs and FA’s, notably Opus Magnum. There he also did sport climbs and bouldering. He had nearly 300 first ascents & lists1637 Ascents in his “Gambler’s” logbook.

On December 29, 2004, John left for a 2-week New Year’s Holiday trip to Las Vegas to play some poker, hike and climb. The last day John was seen alive was at an ATM machine in Las Vegas on 1/19/2005. Family & friends searched for almost 6 years and rock climbers world wide searched for him via rock climbing forums. John’s remains were discovered in Red Rock - Black Velvet Canyon on a rock ledge just above the climb Prince of Darkness 5.10c on 11/12/2010. Las Vegas Metro Police Search and Rescue did a daring helicopter recovery of his remains and determined he was most likely doing another SOLO climb as there was no climbing gear or rope. John was single and is survived by 2 sisters, Jane Rosholt Watkins of Littleton and Jill Rosholt of the Canary Islands. There are not many people who die twice, as John Rosholt died in the winter of 2005 but his legal date of death is Nov. 12, 2010. John died doing what he loved in an area he loved; he was a legend who lived out his dream.

I would like to thank for keeping the forum alive of "this is important - the search for John Rosholt" for over 5 1/2 years. I read it often in hopes of hearing news about my brother and know climbers around the world often read it and posted messages for years. Thank you so much.

Jane Rosholt Watkins


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5 out of 5 stars Thanks for posting this, Jane. I climbed extensively with John in 1981, and will use today to remember him fondly (as I always do!)


Below is a link to a pic of John leading the Italian Arete in Eldo.
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I wish I could attend. John was a great guy and very cool. Miss him.
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I wish I could have known him. He sounds like he lead a life that I would like to live. Living life to the fullest. Enjoying each and every day. That's how it should be.
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5 out of 5 stars Would be a great group of people to spend time with, too bad Boulder is so far. Best Wishes and may John be watching over us all!
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5 out of 5 stars Sorry for missing it Jane. I sure do miss John. One day shortly before his disappearance John had bought a DVD player and asked me if I wanted to buy some of his VHS tapes. Being 22 at the time I told John no. Thinking to myself I will buy some of your unwanted climbing gear. John was happy to upgrade to digital. We laughed and we talked about how obsolete they were like 8 tracks and how they take up so much space.
I spent down time hanging out at his house reading old climbing mags. John would always have something to say about the picture I was looking at or the artical I was reading. He would shake his head up and down speaking words of encourgement. and tell me how good the climb was or how cool the place was. I still have one of his magazines he let me borrow. Sometimes I would hangout until john would pass out in his chair, then I would sneek out the front door.

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