Not long ago Newsweek magazine reported on what it called the new wave of mountain men. Its estimated that there are some sixty thousand serious mountain climbers in the U.S. But in the upper echelon of serious climbers is a small elite group knows as “hard men.” For them climbing mountains and scaling sheer rock faces is a way of life. In many cases, climbing is a part of their whole commitment to life. And their ultimate experience is called free soloing: climbing with no equipment and no safety ropes. John Baker is considered by many to be the best of the hard men. He has free-soloed some of the most difficult rock faces in the U.S. with no safety rope and no climbing equipment of any kind. His skill has not come easily. It has been acquired through commitment, dedication and training. His wife says she cant believe his dedication. When John isnt climbing, hes often to be found in his California home hanging by his fingertips to strengthen his arms and hands.