By Dave Yerian - Co Founder of Jam Walls
The legendary John Bachar pushed Free Climbing limits beyond what anyone had ever seen. Wandering with him one day in Tuolumne, Bachar found a giant boulder with an overhanging, off-set finger crack. He asked me to go with him to check it out and throw a top rope on it to see if it would go. The intimidating wall got my attention immediately as I watched Bachar throw his mastery at the powerful stone. John climbed insecurely up a route that would become one of Yosemite’s first 5.13s. The shaky finger locks along with sketchy hand jams and wobbly foot work were not enough and just before the top John came off the rock. The rope tightened, no hang-dogging here, and I lowered John-o back to the ground. His first words to me were “You’re next, Yerian.” I knew I was in trouble. My heart was pounding with anticipation when suddenly it hit me, John I were on the same ride together taking a trip that would push rock climbing to the next level.
We each try several more times, warring with the 50’ finger crack that has its own uniquely vicious character. Many attempts later, getting ever closer to the top but not quite, we went home. John says to me, “Maybe we should get Kauk to help us.” We convinced Ron to come with us to check out our new crack. John and I were walking quite a bit behind Ron when John said in his quiet, thin nasal voice, the Bachar voice, “There’s only one problem with today.” I looked at John, “Yeah?” “Kauk is probably gonna send this thing.” Sure enough, we both fell and Ron sent to the top. Kauk became the first person to top rope Love Supreme. The first free lead ascent of Love Supreme was by the thin man, float master Hidetaka Suzuki in 1980. In the 70’s, this was one of the first 5.13s in Yosemite history.
The Amazing Wolfgang Gullich years later climbing Love supreme in Tuolumne Meadows