Tom was/is a wonderful person. I was fortunate enough to have met him at Great Pacific Iron Works. I was 19 new to climbing but had been working at Frederick's Ski and Hike in La Jolla representing Chouinard Equipment. Mr. Chouinard invited me to climb and afterward gave us a tour of the GPIW and introduced Tom Frost. He talked to me like he had known me forever but was just getting the opportunity to share his passion for climbing and design for the first time. I was entralled. He showed us new nut and hex designs, rope designs, rurps, and shoes. He had designed a big wall shoe based on ice skate lasts. Needless to say, I bought a pair of those shoes and Tom ground the sole to better conform to the rand, explaining the design and why they were superior to anything on the market. I still have those shoes and occasionally still use them. I also have the 150 ft. rope I bought at the same time. The rope has been retired for decades and living in my basement. Presently, we've built and indoor climbing gym in Twin Falls, ID. Soon, the shoes and rope will be on display along with a lot of old climbing equipment. It is my hope we will someday be able to show the film about the life and times of one of the Gentlemen of Climbing -- Mr. Tom Frost. Mr. Frost, Joyce, and family, your husband and father helped provide me and my family a sport for all ages. Thank you and Thank you, Tom.
Tom Frost by all accounts was a class act, in every facet of life. I love that "one moving part" concept. In looking at the designs that came out of whatever company he was working for or with, there is a sense of refined simplicity, but instilled with an unmistakable extra subtle aesthetic that
raised the final item to a level of industrial artistry. Each item inspired confidence, imbued with some extra power channeled from the master. You climbed harder with his designs on your rack.
I remember when his son was at the University of Colorado and they were visiting the Boulder Rock Club, watching Tom being given the belay test, thinking to myself, gee, do they know who this man is? He politely accommodated, with a smile on his face, not a peep of protest. Class, all the way.
I was fortunate to know Tom for a just a minute really. I met him a year and a half ago after driving north with my Patagonia archive partner, Val Franco, to touch base with this man who was a legend to me – Yvon’s partner in the start of this incredible company I work for. I drove north in awe of what we would find and left a day later in awe of the connection I felt to a man I just met.
My connection, oddly enough, wasn’t based on my 31 years at Patagonia or any connection to climbing other than the photos I’ve seen over the years or the many climbers I’ve met; our connection was about rowing – a sport that I have participated in for the past 8 years and that Tom participated in at Stanford for 4 years. When he heard I was an “oarsman” there was an immediate bond based on the challenge, teamwork and passion that rowing inspires. “Eight hearts must beat as one or you don’t have a boat.” We talked about the book “The Boys in the Boat” that he and I had recently read.
After that we spoke often and I sent him many rowing books. The first one I sent off was “Ready All”, about the life of George Pocock who became a premiere boat builder, designer and rowing coach. Pocock reminded me of Frost as he was driven by quality and ethics and was eminently kind to those who he coached. There was something so authentic about him – I found that with Tom also. One of the thing he told his students was to pull their own weight as the boat goes better when you do. There is certainly a social implication here. Tom certainly pulled his own weight in anything he did and stayed true to his beliefs.
Over the next year I’d send him rowing books and he would devour them instantly and days later we’d be talking about them. The last book I sent him was “The Brendan Voyage”. I really wish he had had time to read it. Anyone with an appreciation for authentic, high quality, craft reproduction and nautical adventure may well enjoy this book. I knew Tom’s start was in sailing and he would have loved the design innovation and adventure this book spoke of. I thought I’d have many more years to share books with Tom but this was not to be. I am so grateful for our connection. He moved me deeply and I will miss our frequent talks.