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John Fantini

6:13:56 PM
Does anyone have any John Fantini stories? I live in a rented house in Canberra and the landlord, who lives in Canada, was hanging around in January when we moved in. That was OK because he seemed like a nice guy. I was looking at a climbing book a few months ago, and the name fitted the face on this bloke belaying at Bungonia, so I asked my wife - who's this? She said "that's the landlord!". I know he is well known, but it's hard to find out much info on him, so does anyone have any John Fantini stories?
Will P
7:10:42 PM
Off the top of my head, only Greg Childs' banana-related story.

Chuck Norris
7:22:06 PM
i'm surprised you say finding anecdotes about fantini difficult - especially living in canberra

ps. and a bit off topic & really only of any significance for the physicists amongst you....this reminds me
of a story told by a family friend who whilst living in the UK bought a second hand washing machine from
someone....when he was picking it up from the house he got gasbagging with the person selling it and it
turned out to be Paul Dirac. "Dirac's washing machine" - good climb name i reckon

7:55:15 PM
yep, very informative...
3:20:20 AM
I wish I had time to write some more but here are a couple of old quotes;
"if you want to climb like a monkey you gotta eat like a monkey". John fanatically used to eat atleast 5 bannanas a day while climbing.

"what are you doing? Where not on a bloody picnic". Comment to me when making a sandwich after a good mornings climbing.

John once held the record for number of ascents of Mt Cook (23 or something like it), including 3 ascents in a day. On the rock, well you only have to look at some of his old routes at Bungonia. Very bold, onsight, groundup. He has mellowed out these days and mainly climbs sport.

There is an old Rock article mid 90s on John.

BTW John ticked his first 5.13a (~28) recently in Skaha, Canada. I never could get his age out of him but he must be pushing early 60s by now. Good on ya John.
Mr Milk
9:02:36 AM
i hardly know john, but I met him in thailand recently. jolly nice bloke.

He was trying a route on the genorator wall, that big ugly crack. i think its pearl jam? 7b...

While eating another serve of beef and basil fried rice, I asked him how he went, and he shook his head and said "no good", i figured he must have fallen off. he then went on to tell me how terrible his style was, how much he was thrashing and so on, not very pretty at all. I figured he got smashed. I later managed to glean out of him that he onsighted the route, but he was so embarrased at his own style that the next day he went up to do the route again, with less thrashing.

very modest and friendly guy.

10:05:45 AM
Here is an extract from Simon Parsons Interview

The full interview is on this site (in the articles section)

Q: Can you tell us a little about some of your alpine ascents? From Mt Cook in New Zealand, to the likes of Mont Blanc in the French Alps, Cerro Torre in Patagonia and the North Face of the Eiger to mention but a few. How did these incredible feats come about? Were they self funded? Were did you get the motivation and inspiration?

I had always wanted to be an all-round climber, probably because I came to climbing from bushwalking. I have always been self-funded, shunning the idea of publicity to get money. I have never considered myself worthy of sponsorship, simply because there are so many climbers better than me. I first went to the NZ Alps in 1985. John Fantini was there, in his prime. Glen Tempest and some buddies were going to do Mt Cook via Zurbriggens. John showed me how to strap on crampons the day before. I soloed Zurbriggens initially behind Glen and his friends, but got to the top first by myself. Fantastic. On the way up I was cramponing up the gully to the summit rocks and the guy in front suddenly fell off and started rocketing down the gully towards huge ice cliffs. He arrested beautifully and prompted clawed his way onwards to the summit. It was a brief but amazing event. No words were spoken.

I always found the mountains scary, but persevered and did some very good routes, like the Balfour Face of Tasman and Eiger. You just have to be determined and know when to go up and when to go down. John Fantini for all his talents was not a good teacher. I remember we went to NZ one winter and did an excellent new route on the West Face of Dixon. He expected me to solo everything and at one point on about 70 degree ice I yelled out to John,' how about a rope'. He replied,' You f...g whimp, its not even vertical yet.' I for many years felt inadequate as a mountaineer after such an introduction, but later realized my expectations were not unrealistic! John refused to use ropes on glaciers and again I thought it was my problem at the time!

4:09:56 PM
I was in Skaha British Columbia, Canada in 2002 and was looking for a partner. A local gave me John's number. We met at my van and he told me he doesnt climb anything under 10c. It was a good day and he out-climbed me easy. He fuelled himself all day on a tupperware bin full of peeled bananas, which looked like a disgusting soggy mess by the end of the day. The next day i was too sore to do anything so i went out with him and helped him on a new route. We scrubbed and bolted one line and then moved a bolt on another one of his routes (called last banana). Shortly after that he celebrated his 59th or 60th birthday, which made me realize i had 30 more years of climbing!!
7:22:50 PM
Here is a couple of verses from the Damietta Epic. This scenario and quote at the end are not made up at all.

(full poem here)

To learn the art faster Cam needed a master
And to be nurtured and patiently led
His unlucky day, it wasn’t that way
He got Fantini instead
Point Perp was the scene and the tide turned mean
And Fants’ drove Cam on with a whip
And the sea was enraged waves battered and sprayed
And the dervish cried out “one more pitch”

John sat on belay, set his cold steely gaze
On the southerly storm rolling through
While Cam down below was in a hell of his own
Of stuck gear and crap rock and hard moves
To keep it together in the worsening weather
He wished a smile and a nod of the head
But Fants’ shouted down through fixed hardman frown

8:21:30 AM
When he was in Oz in January he was hanging around the house here, fixing it up and doing odd jobs. He gave us a weeks free rent because he wanted to clean the house. He hung out in the garage a lot where he still keeps his stuff - and ate bananas.

2:37:46 PM
John in Skaha 2002.

5:15:26 PM
Before he was a climber he was a "tiger walker", and teamed up with Warwick Daniels in the 1960s to set a slew records for off-track ultra-endurance trips before these became fashionable (ie rogaining, adventure racing etc). Most of these still stand despite lots of efforts, including some by modern elite athletes.

8:35:37 PM
I bought my first rack off a canberra guy who Fantini taught how to climb. No hexes, and up to quads of some sizes of cams, set up for climbing at point perpindicular. The reason for the sale - his elbows couldn't keep up with the Fantini's.

10:11:09 AM
I remember watching him an an impressionable 17 year old in the Bluies. He climbed so slowly it was
almost sloth like. Superb technique compared to my thrashing...

10:49:13 AM
id like to see a cool feature about him in crux actually .... well written interview/collection of short stories & photo series etc.... if anyone feels they can do it justice & is motivated to oget it done, please contact neilo! (neil AT cruxmag DOT com DOT au)

11:10:16 AM
nice buck passing Josh ;-)

11:19:15 AM
... said nm for his 5500 th post !
No buck passing by that gent methinks!

11:37:11 AM
hey, im just the photo guy ;D
1:38:48 PM
Had John known his tenant would be a climber he may not have pulled down his carport climbing wall which I thought was a great pity as it was quite unique as woodies go and a bit of monument to his style of climbing - guaranteed to have your forearms go up in smoke after a lap of one of his ‘circuits’. Not that he was a product of his wall (for most of Johns climbing life woodies never existed) but by default it was a reflection of his own unique style and strengths.

It ran the length of one side of his (your!) carport and was slightly concave, the bottom half being vertical and the top overhanging about 20 degrees. From floor to waist height the vertical panels contained the foot holds; from waist to ceiling the overhanging panels contained the hand holds.

There were plenty of hand holds, all being very similar pieces of wood - relatively positive, slightly incut, first joint finger holds (you couldn’t rely on hold variation for any relief). On the lower vertical panel there were only about 6 footholds in the entire length of the carport, all positioned at radically different heights and all of them were either broken, spun, or at best just loose, so while traversing you were required to do long side steps either way down or way up that often left you with one foot up your arse and your head crammed against the ceiling (more than once belaying John on rock I have been swept with a wave of panic on looking up to see one of his legs had apparently fallen off - the high-step, sit on foot move being one of his trademarks).

So while being far removed from your average ultra steep power woodie, all this led to wide spanning contortions with your lower body while getting an absolute roasting forearm pump, not a power pump, but a classic finger and forearm, lactic acid, enduro burnout. Anyone who has climbed with John would straight away recognize these traits as signature Fantini.

6:17:49 PM
I was thinking of building one in the carport myself :-) I noticed there are some very convenient holes drilled into the supports. The only problem is the old lady next door whose house is very close to the carport - she complained that John used to make too much noise every night training (too many screaming dynos??).

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There are 26 messages in this topic.


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