Chris Fredricks -- where he be?

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Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 25, 2007 - 10:34pm PT
Christ Fredricks was before my time, a guy who did a bunch of interesting things then vanished into a Zen center (or so he said the one time I met him). Wonder what he's up to now?

JL
Bart Fay

Social climber
Redlands, CA
Apr 25, 2007 - 11:26pm PT
Hollywood ?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 26, 2007 - 12:28am PT
Peter Haan suggests asking Steve Roper about Chris Fredericks:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=114638&msg=116527#msg116527
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
Apr 26, 2007 - 02:40am PT
I did my first peak – Mt Sill, Swiss Aręte – with Chris and John Fisher. Both were nice guys.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 08:32am PT
Steve Roper told me recently that he and Chris Jones tried to email Fredericks, concerning the content of one of Denny's photos, but Chris didn't respond.

My first big wall in Yosemite, September 1964, was with Chris Fredericks, the Steck/Salathe on Sentinel. Although capable of doing very hard moves when confronted by them, he moved almost unbearably slow compared to one of my other more regular partners, Kor. Someone warned me, "Fredericks whimpers while he climbs, but it's nothing. It doesn't mean he's gripped or about to fall." Sure enough, Chris would be around a corner out of sight, or up in a crack, and all I heard was this mournful whimpering. Those times are dear memories.

Pat
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 08:57am PT
I just now looked back at that 2005 post by Peter Haan (cited above), and there is a sentence that stopped me, apparently speaking about Pratt, Fredericks, and others of that crowd, and saying something along the lines of, "naturally they thought they had done all the great free climbs." In a sense everything that came after was to build on those incredible foundations, yet it was never my impression that they, or especially Pratt, had any delusions as to what future generations might accomplish. I was doing a fair bit of climbing with Pratt toward the last of his more intense days, and he was always extremely humble, with regard to what was possible or might take place in the future. Yes he was also a bit cynical in terms of how things had deteriorated in other ways, and there was the sense he didn't feel comfortable anymore in his beloved Valley of Light, probably due to certain energies and the storming in of the masses, etc. But he had no pomp or self-importance when it came to the new generations and how they might build on his or others' achievements.

Pat
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 26, 2007 - 09:22am PT
He climbed a route or two as well....

Great story Pat. I hope that you can conjure up some more. The slow and methodical Fredericks coupled with the explosive Sacherer or Kor must have made for an interesting though likely abusive outing!

PS- why no book on Pratt to accompany your efforts on RR and John Gill? He was a major figure to say the least and deserves some level of biographical recognition.
scuffy b

climber
The town that Nature forgot to hate
Apr 26, 2007 - 11:13am PT
Something doesn't seem right about that list, Steve.
Lazy Bum, Knucklebuster, Shakey Flakes?
Wasn't Knucklebuster by someone like Falkenstein and Oakeshott?
I think Chris was pretty removed from the Valley scene by the
time of some of these climbs.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 03:19pm PT
Chris was there with Pratt when Chuck led Twilight Zone, but it might be a slight bit inaccurate to credit Chris for that climb. He could probably tell you something about how tough it was to follow!

I have often thought about writing Pratt's bio, but I think there has been some talk in the community that Pratt might not have wanted a book, being very private as he was. I've chatted with several of Chuck's better friends through the years, several of which have written bios or tributes or some kind of elegy when he passed away. I did write one too that was published somewhere, can't even remember just now. Though he was one of the people I most respected and loved, and one of the true masters of crack climbing, his life was in many ways a pretty sad one. It would be a difficult book to write, and some would resent it if anyone were to try. Still, it is a book I think should one day be done. Perrin didn't publish his bio of Whillans until Audrey Whillans passed away, for obvious reasons and showing a great deal of restraint and respect. It seems sometimes that each of us who knew Pratt has many sacred memories and a picture of him in us, and we don't want others tampering with that. We own Pratt, each of us, or so we sometimes act, and don't want someone capitalizing on that great spirit... I doubt I would approve of a bio by Roper, and I doubt I would approve of one by Doug Robinson, even though I respect them both, just as they would have trouble with me or anyone else probably having the assignment, because Pratt was such a tricky subject. Just a few thoughts, as to why such a book probably hasn't been done yet.

Pat
Gene

climber
Apr 26, 2007 - 04:51pm PT
Pat,

Notwithstanding what you just wrote, how would you (or would you?) describe Pratt in a paragraph or two?

GM
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 26, 2007 - 08:25pm PT
So right about the three Falkenstein routes. Small print in the old Meyers guide, wrong Chris. I will back edit and add the FFA of the East Buttress of Lower Cathedral which gives Chris a sweep of the Cathedral Rocks. Mark Powell also has a sweep if you count Penny or Nickel Pinnacles as Higher. Kevin Worral sweeps too and Pratt has the grand slam with the two Spires included.

Just fishing around for curiousities. Sorry about the boot!

Pat- Thanks for the background. My concern is that his achievements and character are recorded while all the angles on his life are still afoot! I respect privacy, humility and discretion in the telling but feel that modesty shadows people enough in life. Shine on after that and Pratt did. The Pratt List is a long one!
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 08:37pm PT
I recall watching Pratt follow me up the off-width at the top of Right Side of Reed Pinnacle. I was amazed at how smoothly he moved, almost relaxed, as though somehow he transcended the rock. He always had that wry grin of his and at one point said about the crack, "It lends itself to technique." I will never forget that brilliant little phrase. So small a comment had a whole world to it, for indeed the best climbing draws from one (brings out of a person) something special, an inspiration that allows one to meld with the moves, if that's the way to say it. A great composer once told me, "You need to let the music tell you what it needs." Pratt was a climber who let himself be taught by the rock, to let it tell him what it needed. His beautiful mastery, in my memory, was unequalled.

Pat
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 26, 2007 - 08:54pm PT
"Susceptible to technique" is the version that rattles around in my head. Ability to relax in the midst of sustained, willful exertion is pretty uncommon. Toss in the Bongs and hard soled shoes for dessert and you are in rare company. I never met Pratt or had the opportunity to watch him move. Did anyone ever film his exploits? Thanks for the memories......
Anne-Marie Rizzi

climber
Apr 26, 2007 - 09:13pm PT
I would love to hear an update about Chris Fredericks. He was still in the Valley when I showed up in 1970, although I can't remember his climbing activity since I was such a newbie. I can't remember seeing him much after 1972?

Pratt was a constant in my life for many years. Pat, you're right, each of us who knew him has sacred memories. I think it's a bit strong to say that his life was a sad one. It was a unique one, driven by him, not by our expectations. His death rocked me to my core because I always counted on Chuck showing up episodically to renew our friendship.

Anne-Marie
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 10:03pm PT
Steve, I think, mentioned "bongs." They weren't too bad when one could get them in. Pratt hardly used protection, though. So often he had nothing, as with Twilight Zone. Today the best climbers go up there with tube chocks, big bros, huge Friends, and other contraptions for making such climbs so much less mental and so much more safe. Pratt was up there depending entirely on his incredible technqiue. Now dear Annie, when I say his life was "sad," I guess I should have stated more clearly that an element of his life was sad or tortured. Something troubled him deeply, perhaps that he never really found a true eternal love, I don't know, or perhaps with climbing changing so rapidly before his eyes, i.e. Yosemite no longer a paradise for a band of climbers, but rather a zoo for the masses, he knew not exactly where to turn. I think he had sorrows no one could know, and he drank away some of the pain probably. Pratt certainly never came close to realizing his potential in several ways. Maybe it wasn't his calling to be a student, but he was a very bright one the while he was. I don't think he pushed his limits in climbing in any way, shape, or form. I can imagine him trying much harder and doing far more difficult climbs than the ones he did. Chuck wasn't a person anyone could pick apart and understand well. He stayed warm but somewhat aloof. And yes while there was that sad element he was joy to many of us. He had a wonderful wit, a look sometimes, accompanied by that smile, tht could communicate an all encompassing cynicism. It made you laugh hard at times. Those of us who knew him knew his core greatness, sensed his integrity, but also the pain he felt living in this world at times... He was like a great artist, only somewhat appreciated, and not nearly as much as he should have been, in his time. I loved him.

Pat
Raydog

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 10:09pm PT
how fortunate for us to be able to read your words Pat now, don't get self conscious - tell us more...
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Apr 26, 2007 - 10:28pm PT
Good stuff Pat!
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 27, 2007 - 08:45am PT
"now don't get self-conscious"

Do you mean, don't start talking about yourself? Or do you mean, don't get self-conscious and crawl back into your quiet world, where you hide sometimes when you begin to be terrified of the responses people have to your thoughts...?

I'm always right at the edge of the latter...
James

climber
A tent in the redwoods
Apr 27, 2007 - 08:48am PT
The latter isn't badder unless your head gets fatter. It's the internet. Spray away. I want to hear it.
seneca

climber
jamais, jamais pays
Apr 27, 2007 - 12:39pm PT
I first climbed in the valley in '78. When I arrived from the east coast I was passionate about climbing but had litle sense of the history that preceded me. Chounard made the best gear, Robbins was the existential hardman, Roper and Meyers had written guide books. As i started doing routes and moving thru the grades the name that I first noted then came to respect (and finally fear) was Pratt's. If he was in on the first ascent you wanted to have your wide stuff dialed and be ready to play hard.. In 30 years nothing has changed, except the respect continues to grow. Wish I had had a chance to shake his hand.
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