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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Bachar DVD

Review by planetFear
Wednesday 18th October 2006
Bachar is a DVD that could easily be shown on National Geographic or C4. It’s not your normal cranking down, hard sends American climbing film. Instead it’s a detailed look at the life and times of one of America’s most famous climbers.

The DVD was finished last year, before his near fatal car accident (see here). It is somewhat ironic that a man who pushed the limits of rock climbing, often solo, nearly met his end on a dark road in Nevada.

The Legend...

The DVD tells John Bachar’s story not just from his own perspective but from some of his peers’ and contemporaries’. Throughout, we get detailed thoughts and stories from the likes of Royal Robbins, Peter Croft, John Gill, Bob Kamps and John Long. All legends in the American climbing scene. On top of this we get his father and brother stating their thoughts on how such a man became so obsessed with the sport of climbing.

Obsession is often an oft overused word in the climbing world, as is the phrase world-class, but Bachar was easily both of these, and the terms sit comfortably around him. From his first forays onto rock, he dedicated his life to it and he is famous for his training regimes and methods (the Bachar ladder being his own innovation). He describes himself how his life revolved around it and how in 20 years he had only 1 week vacation away from either training or climbing (and that was his honeymoon!).

The Myth...

The DVD explores his effect on the climbing scene in the 70’s and 80’s and how he dominated Yosemite climbing for such a long time. His passion for soloing knew few bounds and his strict ethics got him into a lot of bother during the infamous U.S. ethic debates of the early 1980’s.

Bachar became a bit of a mainstream media-star around this time and his ego, strict ethics and straightforward talk did not enamour him with every climber. His amazing exploits, bold climbing (soloing routes that where not just at his level but the National level – he soloed a 5.11c when 5.12 was the limit) certainly brought respect and it is easy to see how his peers and contemporaries held him in such high esteem.

The Bachar DVD is not full of lots of climbing but this takes little away from the film. The short climbing scenes, still photos and the stories bring to full life his influence on climbing in the U.S. His training regime was amazing and watching him do one arm pull ups on a Bachar rope ladder with a very heavy weight is truly impressive.

John Bachar is still a living legend in the U.S. and the response after his accident endorses this view as the North American climbing community rallied to support him and his medical expenses. Watching this you will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that Bachar was a forward thinking climber who was obsessed with improvement and style. It also shows you the dedication that you need to become a top climber.

An impressive documentary that will leave you in little doubt that John Bachar was truly one of the world’s best climbers.

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