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Remains in Black Velvet Canyon Identified as John Rosholt
Submitted By: John McNamee on Nov 18, 2010

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The remains found in Black Velvet Canyon have been positively identified as belonging to John. If you have any pictures or stories about John, his family would appreciate seeing them or reading them.

Please post them up over on

Sincere condolences to family and friends.

Rock Climbing Photo: John Rosholt.
John Rosholt.

Photo Courtesy of Russ Walling

Comments on Remains in Black Velvet Canyon Identified as John Rosholt Add Comment
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
May 15, 2011
From our feedback:

RE: John Rosholt memorial

I am submitting the memorial for John Rosholt. You have kept the forum of the search for John and the recovery of his remains. I thought I would send you the memorial message that I was requested to write for Neptune Mountaineering. Thank you so much for keeping the search for John going for over 5 1/2 years.

Jane Rosholt Watkins

Memorial for: John Nicholas Rosholt, III

Family, friends and climbers are invited to celebrate the life and memories of John Rosholt
at NEPTUNE MOUNTAINEERING in Boulder, CO on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7 pm.

John N. Rosholt was born in Denver, Colorado in 1956 and grew up in Lakewood, Colorado. He attended Lakewood High School and Western State College in Gunnison Colorado, majoring in Geology and a member of the Climbing Club. He continued his love of Geology by continuously pursuing what types of rocks were best suited for his beloved rock climbing passion. John began rock climbing at age13 around Boulder and while at Lakewood High, he was mentored by Vice Principal, Richard Pownall, member of the 1963 American Mt. Everest Expedition. During the 1970’s, John learned to crack climb in Yosemite and continued using his Big Wall skills in the Black Canyon. He was quite proud of his first ascent of Journey through Mirkwood on the intimating Painted Wall and another of the Plunge , describing he and his partners as young kids having an epic. After college, he spent the next few decades climbing around Moab-Canyonlands, Red Rock or Joshua Tree in the spring and fall, then during the summers off to Yosemite and Squamish, BC, but as the snow arrived, he headed south to El Paso to climb Heuco Tanks for the winter. John’s climbing nickname was “the Gambler” as he played poker in order to support his climbing. John learned how to play poker watching his father and Geological Survey friend’s monthly poker nights. John excelled at the game and this became his means of support for his rock climbing lifestyle. He said, “you can lose your life climbing, but in gambling you only lose money”. His life was best described as a calculated risk as he was certainly the ultimate gambler.

John became a very well known “trad” climber. Pete Takeda wrote in his 2005 Rock and Ice article, Without a Trace, “Hailed as one of America’s best traditional climbers in the late 1990’s, he was known for a methodical, almost scientific approach. Not only could Rosholt calculate the odds on a tough pitch, he could hedge his bets with precise footwork and a sober poker face. Rosholt was an equally brilliant poker professional”. His life for decades was traveling around the country, climbing during the day and playing poker at Indian reservation casinos at night his friends would never know when he’d show up for a climb and his home was where he parked hit truck. He lived in Las Vegas for several years and established many new routes in Red Rock and his Black Velvet 5.11c signature climb Texas Hold’Em. In 2001 John purchased a townhouse in Scottsdale, AZ he continued climbing with a new group of climbing partners in AZ and helped develop “Homestead” where he had many legendary climbs and FA’s, notably Opus Magnum. There he also did sport climbs and bouldering. He had nearly 300 first ascents & lists1637 Ascents in his “Gambler’s” logbook.

On December 29, 2004, John left for a 2-week New Year’s Holiday trip to Las Vegas to play some poker, hike and climb. The last day John was seen alive was at an ATM machine in Las Vegas on 1/19/2005. Family & friends searched for almost 6 years and rock climbers world wide searched for him via rock climbing forums. John’s remains were discovered in Red Rock - Black Velvet Canyon on a rock ledge just above the climb Prince of Darkness 5.10c on 11/12/2010. Las Vegas Metro Police Search and Rescue did a daring helicopter recovery of his remains and determined he was most likely doing another SOLO climb as there was no climbing gear or rope. John was single and is survived by 2 sisters, Jane Rosholt Watkins of Littleton and Jill Rosholt of the Canary Islands. There are not many people who die twice, as John Rosholt died in the winter of 2005 but his legal date of death is Nov. 12, 2010.

John died doing what he loved in an area he loved he was a legend who lived out his dream.

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