John “Verm” Sherman (Ep.12)

Prior to John Sherman’s arrival on the climbing scene back in the time of the Stonemasters, bouldering wasn’t really taken seriously — there was no meaningful, open-ended grading system to compare problems, and Hueco Tanks was just some place in West Texas.

John changed all that, and did so before bouldering pads existed.

John Sherman on Blister's All Things Climbing Podcast
John Sherman on “Lord of the Rings,” Grampians, Australia.

In the years since casting his long shadow over the sport, John has dedicated himself to wildlife photography, with a particular focus on working to protect the California Condor. He filled me in on how photography and bouldering are linked, what has been lost in climbing since his heyday, and why he thinks there are more impressive feats than Alex Honnold’s free solo of El Cap.


  • “Are you chopping lines in the background?” (1:52)
  • Episode Intro (2:05)
  • What will you be remembered for most as a climber? (4:40)
  • What are you most afraid of being remembered for? (6:30)
  • How do you sandbag masterfully? (8:20)
  • Do you resent crowding at the crags you developed? (11:05)
  • What’s the biggest problem in the sport today? (14:05)
  • Is there anything you wish remained with the sport from your heyday? (21:24)
  • Does Honnold rehearsing his free solo of The Nose change the accomplishment? (27:15)
  • When did you get into photography? (34:21)
  • How does wildlife photography compare to bouldering? (36:45)
  • Why Condors? (40:30)
  • Does your irreverent bent carry over to the photography world? (51:15)
  • Is “Old Man Lightning” still going forward? (59:40)
  • How can people contribute to Condor recovery? (1:03:05)
  • Outro (1:03:52)


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