The Return of John Bragg

Most revolutions are delivered by armies of men. This one was delivered by four, The Front Four: John Stannard, Henry Barber, Steve Wunsch, and John Bragg.

The Front Four were so far ahead of other climbers in the early 70's that other climbers began claiming "First Human Ascents" when they did something "first", after one of the Four.

Despite this deification (and his name) John Bragg comes across as quite humble. He's always kept a low profile. He never wrote about his climbs nor sought notoriety. He never had a tick list and didn't even bother noting all his first ascents. (As a result, he's often suggested something would make a good line, only to discover that he beat himself to it.)

A few details help to explain his impact. Before Bragg walked the carriage road, there was no such thing as 5.12. It just didn't exist in the Gunks until John freed the gargantuan Kansas City roof. His long list of significant first ascents includes climbs that remain testpieces even by todays standards: , Enduro Man (his nickname), Gravity's Rainbow, and Yellow Wall (the first complete ascent).

In his travels, he left his mark from New Hampshire to Yosemite Valley. Enema Crack and Orangutan Arch in Yosemite are his lines, as are Eldorado classics Mellow Yellow and Cinch Crack. In New Hampshire, he did the first ascent of Repentance (WI 5) at Cathedral. He took his ice skills to other places such as Patagonia, establishing himself as a superior alpinist with feats such as the first ascent of Torre Egger and the first alpine ascent of Cerro Torre.

In the mid 1980's, John disappeared from the climbing scene but he's back. He's guiding the Grand Teton for Exum in the summers and he's already been back to Patagonia. You can see him at a crag near you including, the Gunks. Welcome back, John.