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John Rosholt, RIP
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Nov 18, 2010
Damn! I just have to write another Rosholt story. I sat at the base of Medlicott Dome, watching him lead Ciebola, (10c, but freaky),he takes this 15 footer, on the diagonal, (Marc Hirt was belaying-flawless catch). John gets back on, climbs out to the crux, spends about a lifetime there, on tiny knobs, and sends. (We didn't call it "sending" back then.) As I was pawing in the scree, watching, I picked up a seashell! WTF?!?

He was one in 6.5 billion, that guy, tearing up, gotta go
Joe Huggins
From Grand Junction
Joined Oct 4, 2001
0 points
Nov 19, 2010
John was a climbing partner of mine. We put up some good routes together. Olaf Mitchell
From Paia, Maui, Hi,
Joined Mar 16, 2007
160 points
Nov 19, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: John Rosholt on the southern tip of Ekker Butte wi...
John Rosholt on the southern tip of Ekker Butte with the Maze in the background. May 1990
Northwest Corner
From Bend
Joined Feb 27, 2006
1,385 points
Nov 19, 2010
Keen, very cool pic! I'm not sure I've ever seen a picture of him with a beard. YDPL8S
From Santa Monica, Ca.
Joined Aug 7, 2003
240 points
Nov 19, 2010
I met John in Eldo with Newberry and someone else (who escapes me at the moment. Maybe Pulaski) in 1975. He was outgoing and gregarious and just started talking to me. The conversation quickly led to the realization that we all were attending WSC in Gunnison. John sensed in me a willing pawn that could be easily duped into his brand of raw go for it. We climbed late into the evening and headed back towards Golden in his beater Dodge Rambler. I was driving as he was partaking and imbibing. The man had prodigious capacities. In those days the speed limit signs on hiway "pray for me I drive 93" were considered by us to be more sensible suggestions than actual laws. So there we are speeding into Golden at 90+ mph, me driving, John telling wild stories in his wry humorous manner. Without warning I hit a car rattling pot hole that takes out the breaks. Screaming into town, white knuckled, clench jawed, stomping on empty air for brakes and just barely in control, I perform a panicked emergency stop procedure that primarily involves slamming the car into reverse stomping on the emergency brake and holding on for dear life. John is still talking, telling his animated tales with grandiose arm movements. Barreling towards a gas station I'm wondering if he even knows we are about to perish. When the dust settles the rumbling rambler has ground to a screeching halt mere inches from the gas pumps. We are miraculously unscathed. I am hyperventilating and sweating profusely. John is finishing his anecdotal story. He looks at me with just a trace of wide eyed recognition. "that was Desperate" he said then popped the top on another Fosters like nothing happened. "What do you want to climb tomorrow" he asked.

John was a powerful force and an unflappable eminently competent partner. I have so many memories.
Rest in Peace old friend. You are missed.

My deepest condolences to family and friends. I am gladdened that part of the mystery is over.
phil broscovak
Joined Apr 27, 2002
1,268 points
Nov 19, 2010
(re posted from Supertopo, by request from Phil Broscovak)

John loved Eldo, he'd drive from Gunnison to Boulder on the weekends just to climb and then roll back into town on Monday morning for classes. He would talk about routes like Le Toit and Cest La Vie. One day we were looking at the cover of Climbing magagazine and there was a great picture of Michael Gilbert doing the Kloberdanz roof (Michael was the brother of our good friend, the late Scotty Gilbert). I asked John if he had done that roof, "yeah, I did it in my Adidas". In those days, John climbed many routes in those old blown out Adidas.

John once showed me a fuzzy black and white 8mm film, taken when he was in high school, of one of his first climbing adventures on The Maiden. I think he was about 16 yrs old and he takes a huge swinging ripper on the pitch. His partner, another young Denver high school punk named Dave Breashears. I wonder what ever happened to that movie?
From Santa Monica, Ca.
Joined Aug 7, 2003
240 points
Nov 19, 2010
Ok so first, RIP John, I did not know you personal but you have lead the way for us all.
Second, If he was found 5 years after he went missing, that must mean that no one has climbed the whole route in 5 years. That just seems to be weird that not one has finished the whole route, as the remains where found so high.

RIP John and hope that family finally finds peace.
Jordan P. G.
Joined Dec 24, 2009
0 points
Nov 19, 2010
Another good one moves on.
So sad...
RIP John
Paul Davidson
Joined Jan 22, 2007
585 points
Nov 20, 2010
buckethead, that's the john that I remember. Olaf Mitchell
From Paia, Maui, Hi,
Joined Mar 16, 2007
160 points
Nov 20, 2010
RIP John. I had the pleasure of climbing with him at Squamish during the summer of 1996. I had just lead Clean Crack and lowered off and this older guy wanted to run a lap on my top rope. Turns out that he made it look much easier than I did and told a story of getting the first free ascent of Clean Crack. I wasn't sure who he was at the time, but after watching him climb I knew he was the real deal. He floated up everything I lead that day and offered great encouragement for me to push my limits. crankenstein
Joined Dec 20, 2005
0 points
Nov 22, 2010

Nov 22, 2010 - 03:21pm PT
Sometime back in the mid 80’s we had an especially long and drawn out winter.
We hardly climbed other than occasional bouldering sessions at Morison.
My primary climbing partner in those days was Maurice Reed.
We were planning a road trip to somewhere with better weather.
After hearing about our plans our friend Pierrette wanted to go.She was a great cook and had some cash to help with expenses.
This put us with a party of three so we set out to find a forth.
After exhausting all of our usual possibilities Maurice said,” How about Johnny Rotten? He‘s always up for something”.

We go over to where John was living at the time.
His truck was parked in the street out in front of the house.
We left a note on the door. GOING CLIMBING NEED A FOURTH, J-TREE/RR.
There had been a lot of snow that year and the shady side of John’s truck still had a drift against it. There were no tire tracks. It obviously hadn’t been moved in a very long time. In passing we peeked in the passenger window. Maurice said,” Man check this out!” I looked inside and laughed when I noticed that out of the debris and dirt on the flour there were a number of healthy 6 to 8 inch plants growing directly out of the carpet.

John found the note and he was totally up for a climbing trip. His only request was that when we were in Vegas he would like to sit in on a poker game or two just to offset his expenses. Maurice, Pierrette or myself knew nothing about John’s poker interests so we said, “sure no problem”.

With our team assembled we maintained the van and packed the camping and climbing gear for a great early spring climbing road trip.
Our first stop was going to be Indian Creek near Moab but it was so cold that we decided to keep going to Las Vegas.

We pulled on to the strip and John asked if we could stop at a casino just to look around a bit.
The next thing we knew he was absorbed a game and we couldn’t get his attention. When we finally got him to acknowledge us it was way late and he said that he was on a streak and if we would bear with him he was sure that he would make enough to pay for all the expenses for the trip.
Well,we wound up sleeping on the parking lot of the casino that night.
At daylight there was a knock on the door of the van and it was John ready to go climb.

This scenario went on for the whole trip. Several times we dropped John off at the casino in the evening and picked him up in the morning. There was no such thing as just a few hands with John on that trip.

We did quite a few notable first assents on that trip. In fact everything we climbed was ether a new route or we had no knowledge of it being climbed.
Back in those days there was no guide book to Red Rocks.
Also in those days Red Rocks was not a park. It was rugged, drive anywhere, unimproved trails out in the desert.

I woke at dawn one morning to the sound of automatic weapon fire right next to our camp.
There was a Cadillac convertible with the top down parked no more than 50 yards away from our van. Standing next to the Caddie was a guy the size of a box car dressed in a business suit with a machine gun in his hand and he was just mooowin the desert down with blasts of gun fire.
We hunkered down in our sleeping bags and prayed that he would go away.
Maurice and Pierrette were having mild desert romance so John and I usually teamed up for climbing after he had played cards all night.
He never minded taking his leads but was more than happy to second when I wanted the sharp end. Back in those days I was somewhat of a lead hog any way.

One particular climb that still stands out that John and I did on that trip was in Oak Creek Canyon.
The details of the first pitches are a blur but the final pitch will stay in my quiver of unique climbing memories.
This pitch was Johns lead.
The climbing up to this point had been on those solid dark purple, almost black, mushroom holds that are unique to Red Rocks.
The pitch before was mine and the shrooms had been getting exponentially lighter in color and protection scarcer by the meter. In fact I had a hard time finding enough pieces to construct a sound belay when I finished the lead.
At this point I expressed to John,” I think we should bail and leave all this stuff in as anchors!”
John wasn’t having any of that and started setting up the rack for the next pitch!
He set out climbing on brown shrooms and getting very little gear in. The further he climbed the gear got scarcer and the shroom holds got lighter in color.
I didn’t mention that we had NO bolt kit.
Silently John calculated the hold sequences and face climbed with smooth deliberate progress.
He never backed down or even looked down.
That’s when it started to rain!
Not water, but, white sandstone mushrooms!
Every time he unweighted a hold to move to the next one it fell away!
I was terrified by the fact that he hadn’t placed a single protection placement for a very long time.
The dynamics of a leader fall from that far out would have ripped my belay anchors right out of the rock.
Every hold that he unweighted dislodged and to make matters worse he was nearly out of rope.
It seemed the he was way past half rope since he placed a piece.
At one point the thought of untying from the rope crossed my mind.
I held on in stupefied silence for what seemed like a long time to me. Finally I heard him say that he was off belay.
I didn’t even ask what the belay anchor was like. I just pulled the gear and started climbing.
The same thing happened as I climbed but a lot sooner. Each hold that I used popped from the face as I unweighted it all the way to the belay ledge!
He had found some cracks for a belay so I was protected while seconding that pitch. We found good rappel anchors for the decent.

Around the fire that night I asked if John if he minded calling the route, “Toxic Shroom Syndrome”.
Olaf Mitchell
From Paia, Maui, Hi,
Joined Mar 16, 2007
160 points
Nov 22, 2010
Great story Olaf. phil broscovak
Joined Apr 27, 2002
1,268 points
Dec 8, 2010
Here's an image to add. Picture John Rosholt in Thailand, on Rai Lai Bay, walking back with us from a morning climb, through the sand on that narrow spit on the West side.

There are topless women strewn hither and yon all over the beach, sunbathing. We have to wend our way between them. They were all quite lovely, I kid you not.
John is walking behind me, and after meandering quietly past probably thirty semi bikini'd girls he sings out something like; "The climb was all right, but the approach and walkout are unreal."
Jean Scott
Joined Apr 20, 2008
0 points
Dec 9, 2010
Ha ha ha gooood one. phil broscovak
Joined Apr 27, 2002
1,268 points
Apr 11, 2011
i recognize some of the names that have posted here. memories from long ago.

i knew john when he lived in gunnison in the early 80's. we were roommates above the deli on main street. i can remember john fleecing us at poker even then, after the game we would sneak down the back stairs and snag us a sandwich.

john and i also did a road trip to joshua tree. we hitched from gunnison to jtree. had a great time climbing together.

it was many years later that i ran into john again. this time in red rocks. it was an unexpected reunion. he led me up prince of darkness (he did humor me and let me lead the first pitch) and we got in a few other routes which were way too hard for me.

it seems like everywhere i climbed with john he was dragging me up. it was always good fun though.

i have often thought of john over the years and wondered how he was getting along. i had not heard he had gone missing. it was with great sadness i read that he had been found.

les lloyd
les lloyd
Joined Apr 11, 2011
0 points
Apr 11, 2011
Mark your calendars or input your smart phones for two concurrent and outstanding shows at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder. May 18th& 19th.
One show as a tribute to climbing great John Rosholt (aka the Gambler), and another a retrospective of the early days of climbing in Red Rock Nevada by Vegas pioneer Jorge Urioste. Money raised will go to help Layton Kor with medical expenses. Stay tuned for details.
phil broscovak
Joined Apr 27, 2002
1,268 points
Apr 11, 2011
Les, I certainly remember the name, but my old cranky brain can't seem to put a face to it. Maybe if you put a picture on your account, or remind me a little, like were you a geo major, did you know Eric Bard?

Scott Mossman
From Santa Monica, Ca.
Joined Aug 7, 2003
240 points
Site Landlord
May 15, 2011
Jane Rosholt Watkins wrote this memorial for a Neptune event that will celebrate John's life on May 20, 2011, at 7pm (also posted in events).


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 th e game and this became his means of support for his rock cli! mbing 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 si gnature 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.
Nick Wilder
From The Bubble
Joined Jan 1, 2005
1,461 points
Sep 6, 2011
I was going through a box of photos from the late 1990s and found a few of John when we were putting up routes in Arizona.

Rock Climbing Photo: John Rosholt pulling roof at Homestead Arizona
John Rosholt pulling roof at Homestead Arizona

Rock Climbing Photo: John Rosholt nearing top of first ascent in Homest...
John Rosholt nearing top of first ascent in Homestead Arizona

Rock Climbing Photo: John Rosholt standing in front of Talisman Wall (s...
John Rosholt standing in front of Talisman Wall (secret slot canyon in Arizona - can't remember the name)
D Condit
From Colorado Springs, CO
Joined Aug 30, 2011
10 points

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