The Great Ones

Royal Robbins
Warren Harding
Conrad Kain
Jeff Lowe

Scratch Barber from the list and you scratch reams of first ascents and psycho (for most) free solos in practically every worthwhile climbing area from the Shawangunks to Boulder Canyon to Devils Tower to the Needles to Yosemite. But it wasn't so much what he climbed, nor how hard (he established Yosemite's first 5.12, Fish Crack), but how Barber climbed that changed the face of free climbing.

Like Robbins, Barber was (and remains) an avowed purist who still refuses to use even cams and set a near perfect example of style and ethics in a time when the free-climbing ethos was still ill-defined. In the early to mid-1970s, Barber's highly competitive spirit drove him to climb in an ever purer style, pursuing on-sight tactics when yo-yoing harder routes was the norm. Besides introducing a ground-up, no-falls ethic, Barber's ability to show up at a new crag and climb the locals' testpieces drove them to train harder, climb more and in better style. Barber's effects helped elevate American free climbing to an unequaled level worldwide.

One of America's most prolific travelers, Barber visited Australia in 1975, where, besides introducing the locals to chalk, he raised their bar three letter grades. If Australia ever compiles a list of its most influential climbers, you can bet "Hot Henry" will be on it.

John Muir
Alan Watts
Ray Jardine
John Gill
Lynn Hill

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