A long-time Search and Rescue Site member, a prolific climber, and all around nice guy. Rich was a fixture in the valley for over a decade and a friend to many. Sadly, Rich took his life in June 2003.
Most famous for outrageous free-solos of hard climbs when nobody else did so. First 5.11 solo (New Dimensions), 2nd ascent of Midnight Lightening. Put up very hard routes in the 70's and 80's; most famous first ascent is probably Astroman. The Bachar-Yerian in Tuolumne (1981) remains a world-class run-out testpiece. First ascents of dozens of extreme difficulty run-out routes.
Dale Bard was a valley fixture through the 70's, spending his time both free climbing hard cracks and doing the big walls. Dale was one of the first people to seriously work on freeing the Nose, and spent much of his time in the Eastern Sierras working toward this goal. To many of us, Dale is best-known for his part in the video "Moving Over Stone".
Chief Guide for the Yosemite Mountaineering School, Dave Bengston is quite the accomplished climber. Most notable among his achievements are climbing many hard El Cap routes in a push (most often teaming with Steve Gerberding), and climbing 200 routes in a day (all solo, up to 5.10) in Joshua Tree, with Mark Bowling of Joshua Tree Rockclimbing School. Dave has his own webpage.
Merry was the first woman to do the Nose-in-a-Day and is known for her superb technical skill on hard valley cracks and face. Also, she's the kindest human being ever born.
Werner has lived in the valley for many years on Search and Rescue. He's climbed Astroman probably more than anyone else alive, and although over 50 years old now, still climbs very hard.
Aka "The Bird", Bridwell headed up the Stonemasters in the 1970's, the leading group of Yosemite climbers when the valley was the center of the universe. Bridwell pushed the envelope on scary aid as well as doing hard free-climbing, putting up the "P.O. Wall" which was probably the hardest aid line in the world at the time. He also masterminded the first Nose-in-a-Day ascent with John Long and Billy Westbay in 1975.
Scott has been climbing in Yosemite most of his life, serving a long stint on SAR. Scott co-authored the (controversial) "Hall of Mirrors" on the Glacier Point Apron in the 70's and is one pitch away from being the second person to free the Nose (after Lynn Hill did it in 1993).
He's climbed El Cap over 50 times and has been in the valley forever, but perhaps he's best known as paraplegic climber Mark Wellman's partner on their climbs of the Shield and Tis-sa-ack.
Peter is another noted free-soloist; one of only two humans to ever solo Astroman. Peter also held the speed record for the Nose (4:22) for many years until it was recently broken (2001). Established many 5.13 cracks, including some on-sights. His most outstanding quality is his view toward climbing, which many traditionalists find refreshing.
Hans started out as a speed specialist on the competition circuit, winning almost every event he entered for several years! Although Hans redpoints up to 5.14, the main thrust of his climbing these days has been to go fast on valley big walls: he owns more valley speed records than anyone else alive. Although he has a reputation for being overly competitive, those who know him often describe him as friendly, encouraging, and always psyched.
Steve put up the ultra-hard "Reticent Wall" on El Cap and has climbed El Cap more times than anyone else alive (nearly 100 ascents at last count), though Chris MacNamera is gaining fast. Probably the nicest guy you'll ever meet, Steve is totally excited about your first 5.6 lead or your first 5.14 lead. Probably his most famous trait is his aversion to self-aggrandizement.
Son of the famous valley pioneer TM Herbert, Tommy has excelled at competition climbing and putting up testpieces all over California. Probably best known as the "Warden" at Jailhouse for many years, Tommy recently finished Medical School at the University of Nevada at Reno.
Lynn is certainly better known for her successes outside the valley: she dominated the comp circuit in every year she participated. She was the first woman to climb 5.14, and was easily the best female rockclimber in the world for many years. In 1993 she became the first person (male or female) to free the Nose on El Cap, and in 1994 she did it again in a day. No one has repeated this feat, though many extremely good climbers have tried.
Grant was on the SAR site for 17 years: that's longer than it takes today's sportclimbers to be born, learn to tie-in, and climb 5.14. Grant is one of the coolest guys around... he now spends most of his time teaching wilderness medicine and authoring guidebooks.
Jardine was a loner during the 70's, often climbing only with his inner circle of partners. He was hang-dogging back when it was against the rules, and as a result climbed harder than most anyone else at that time. Given that hang-dogging is now commonly accepted by virtually everyone, Jardine was more visionary than most give him credit for. An example his early accomplishments are his first-ascent of Phoenix (13c) in the valley, and his freeing of the West Face of El Cap, the first free grade VI in the world. (Certainly both of these feats were helped by the fact that he was the sole owner of spring-loaded camming devices at the time. This is due to the fact that Jardine invented them!) The controversial "Jardine Traverse", a chipped leftward passage from El Cap Tower on the Nose, is named after him and his chisel.
One of the best climbers to ever come out of the valley, Ron Kauk is still improving at age 40-something. Ron co-authored Astroman in 1975 and has been putting up hard routes most of his life. He also has the first ascent of the world's most famous boulder problem: Midnight Lightening.
John Long, aka Largo, was on the first Nose-in-a-Day team and helped free Astroman both in 1975. He made the first ascent of one of the first 5.12 climbs, Paisano Overhang at Suicide Rock (5.12c offwidth). He's made videos on climbing, written articles and books, and been a boon to the sport throughout his career. Because of his writing, he's perhaps one of the best-known Yosemite climbers.
Although relatively new on the scene, Chris has quickly become a driving force in Yosemite big-wall climbing. Holding several speed records, doing a huge volume of routes, and leading a massive rebolting effort in the valley, Chris seems to have made big-walls his full-time job. He is also author of the new SuperTopos guidebook to Yosemite walls.
Dan and Sue McDevitt have been climbing and guiding in the valley for more than a decade. Both are supremely competent all-around climbers from the big walls to 50 foot gymnastic testpieces.
John Middendorf, aka "The Deuce", has climbed and put up some of the hardest aid routes in Yosemite and around the world. He once soloed the Nutcracker (a 5 pitch 5.8) in 8:47. John founded "A5", a leading big-wall equipment manufacturer, now owned by The North Face.
Greg is not very well-known, but an extremely gifted climber with limitless energy. Greg has held various valley speed records, and has put up many difficult valley routes. Climbers might recognize this friendly, curly red-haired guy from a recent magazine shot of him onsighting a 5.12 crack at Devils Tower on the cover of the Shoreline catalog.
The new kid on the block; Potter has on-sight soloed the Steck-Salathe, broken the speed record on several El Cap routes, and recently shattered the solo record on the Regular Route on Half Dome. Most recently, he was the first to solo the Nose and the Regular Route on Half Dome in the same day, the 2nd to solo Astroman, and the holder of the new Slackline Distance record. A strong and very bold climber.
One of the most colorful and entertaining characters of the California climbing scene, Steve Schneider (aka "Shipoopi") has been climbing in Yosemite for most of his life. Along with Florine, Steve has climbed El Cap three times in one day. He also has redpointed 5.14 sport and 5.12 off-widths as well as setting speed records on El Cap. A true rockstar.
Dave Schultz was a long-time valley guide and past partner of Peter Croft. The pair did insanely hard enchainments in a day (like the Crucifix, Rostrum, and Astroman). I've seen Schultz solo 5.10+ in his tennis shoes, laughing and joking throughout...
Don Snyder climbed the Nose-in-a-Day three times in one season. He truly loved crack climbing, but gave it up to become a doctor... oh well.
Scott Stowe has been in the valley for a long time, often working odd jobs or working on SAR to get by. Scott can often be seen soloing 5.10 after work with pal Dave Bengston, or teaming up with Gerberding on some insane one-push El Cap route. Scott looks like Elvis.
Better known as "Big Wall Pete", Pete Takeda served a long stint on the SAR team in Yosemite. Pete is nowadays best known for his writing in Climbing magazine.
No longer on the SAR site, Tucker served for many years on the valley rescue team. Tucker has lived the climbing bum life as long as he's been alive. Often seen as a quiet loner, he'll sometimes come to life and push your buttons just to see your reaction. He's most famous for his ability to suffer without complaint, a truly God-given trait for big wall climbers.
A long-time SAR site member, Walt Shipley has done it all. From hard free routes to dicey aid to the boldest solos, he's pushed the envelope. Walt passed away a few years ago while kayaking some swollen river. The world is poorer without him.
Kurt, aka "The Kid", grew up during the height of the valley scene and quickly established himself as strong and bold. He repeated many valley testpieces early in his career, put up some of the scariest routes in Tuolumne, and most recently nearly freed the Muir Wall with Scott Cosgrove.
Aka "Fish", Walling was a long-time SAR site member and prolific wall-climber. He founded the "Fish" big-wall equipment company, a leading manufacturer of all sorts of trick-gear.
One of the original stonemasters from the 70's, "Yabo" mastered the valley circuit of face and cracks and walls. Most famous for outrageous free-solos and near-death experiences such as falling from the top of Short Circuit (12a) and catching a tree on the way down. Sadly, Yabo eventually took his own life in the early 90's.