John Bachar

John Bachar (1957~) is an American rock climber who took the art of climbing without a rope, or free soloing, to unprecedented levels.


Bachar was born in 1957. He grew up in Los Angeles, California and started climbing at Stoney Point. He attended UCLA where his father was a math professor, but dropped out to climb full time. Obsessed with the sport, Bachar immersed himself in books on physical training and nutrition, and soon was able to outperform his fellow climbers.

John Long, whom Bachar met in the early 1970s, shared his interest in physical training and convinced Bachar to try free soloing, starting with the classic Joshua Tree route "Double Cross" (5.7). Bachar also put up notorious bouldering problems in Joshua Tree such as "Planet X" (V6) and "So High" (V5). The committing crux move of the latter problem is 25 feet off the ground [Robert Miramontes, "A Complete Bouldering Guide To Joshua Tree National Park", K. Daniels and Associates, 2003] .

Bachar made a name for himself in Yosemite with his unroped ascents of "New Dimensions" (5.11a) and "The Nabisco Wall", a three-pitch affair ("Waverly Wafer" (5.10c), "Butterballs" (5.11c), "Butterfingers" (5.11a)) [Mark Kroese, "Fifty Favorite Climbs: The Ultimate North American Tick List", The Mountaineers Books, 2001] . Bachar's superb physical fitness gave him an edge; his campsite at Camp 4 was filled with exercise equipment, including the hanging ladders that became known as Bachar ladders. At his peak Bachar was able to perform a one arm pull up with 12.5 lbs of weight attached. [Michael Reardon, "Bachar: One Man, One Myth, One Legend", Jumprunner Productions, 2005]

Confident of his free soloing ability, Bachar posted a note in 1981 promising a "$10,000 reward for anyone who can follow me for one full day." No one took the challenge. That same year he put up "Bachar-Yerian" (5.11c) in Tuolumne Meadows with Dave Yerian. One of the boldest first ascents ever, the 500 foot face climb is protected by a mere 13 bolts, each one placed while tenuously hanging from a hook. Bachar was a vocal critic of climbing tactics such as bolting on rappel which came into vogue during the 1980s.

In 1986 Bachar and Peter Croft made an link up of El Capitan and Half Dome, climbing a vertical mile in under 14 hours. [Alexander Huber and Heinz Zak, "Yosemite: Half a Century of Dynamic Rock Climbing", Menasha Ridge Press, 2003] In the 1990s Bachar free soloed "Enterprise" (5.12b) in the Owens River Gorge and "The Gift" (5.12c) at Red Rocks for the "Masters of Stone" video series. He was featured in the documentary "Bachar: One Man, One Myth, One Legend" (2005) by Michael Reardon.

Bachar lives in Mammoth Lakes, California and is Director of Design of Acopa International LLC, a company which manufactures rock climbing shoes. The website for his shoe company is

On August 13, 2006, Bachar was involved in a serious car accident while travelling home from the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City. He suffered five fractured vertebrae.


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