Monday, July 6, 2009

The Man

In 1994, I took a little road trip along the California Sierras. Working my way south, I stopped by the little bouldering area of Deadman's Pass. I put in a little session and met a guy who needed a lift back to Mammouth, a few miles down the road. He said he was staying next to a guy who had a climbing wall in his backyard and the owner was cool with people coming over to climb.

So we rolled into Mammouth, I grabbed my shoes and checked out one of the coolest walls I had ever seen. After a little warming up, a lean blond guy walked out of the house. I remember thinking to myself "Dude, that's fucking Bachar!".

He sat back, sipped a beer and we bullshitted about various climbing stuff. The topic of climbing didn't really demand all of his focus, I could tell he had been having the same conversation for about 2 decades.

It turned out, the guy I had given a lift to happened to be a musician, a trumpet player. At this point, Bachar lit up, full of interest and the topic turned to their mutual love of Jazz. Bachar was a talented Sax player and he invited the guy to come over and jam, just for the hell of it.

This isn't about me, and it's not some kind of "Yeah, me and John were tight" kind of story. What impressed me about the guy was his interests far beyond climbing, his generosity in letting us climb on his wall and his general lack of ego.

It's really hard to explain. I'm sure that he was an inspiration to thousands of climbers. But his character should not be forgotten, either. He was the fucking man.

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