Matt Johanson
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Bachar climbing in winter sunshine in the Owen's River Gorge last January.  Photo by Bruce Willey

Bachar climbing in winter sunshine in the Owen's River Gorge last January. Photo by Bruce Willey

“On the one hand, there’s this incredible danger. If you fall, you’re dead after you’re 50 feet off the ground. But on the other hand, you’re completely safe …

“The other benefit is that you can do tons of climbing. There’s no stopping for belaying. You don’t have to stop to place protection. You don’t have a giant rack of gear with you. You don’t need a partner. You just walk up and climb.”

Those are the words of John Bachar explaining the allure and logistical advantages of free soloing – climbing without a rope, a partner, or any protection other than your own ability.

They were spoken in an interview with ASJ contributor Matt Johanson just a couple weeks before Bachar, 52, died while soloing near his home in Mammoth on July 5.

Bachar was legendary for his ropeless exploits and the training he put in to accomplish them. In 1980, he was profiled on the TV show “That’s Incredible!” (the segment is available on YouTube), and he authored many first ascents both free solo and with gear in Yosemite and beyond.

“Don’t scare yourself and know your limits,” he told Johanson in late June. “You’ve got to be really honest about it with yourself, or you’re going to get bit, big time.”

Read Johanson’s article on page 20 in our Sept/Oct 2009 issue, or view it online.   https://adventuresportsjournal.com/content/?p=66