Chris Fredricks -- where he be?

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Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 10, 2009 - 12:07am PT
I'd like to second the comment made above, "You sensed immediately that Pratt was interested in you (or not) as a person, not by virtue of your climbing c.v." Of course this was true of Fredericks as well. Pratt though is the person who got me together, for better or worse, with my former husband. Chuck obviousy picked up from some of our extended conversations that I was interested in Frank. He then arranged for a girl who worked for Curry that he knew and myself, to hike up to Half Dome and camp out with them the night before he and Frank tried to free a route there (sorry can't remember which one). We built a campfire on the shoulder, roasted marshmellows, and talked well into the night. Then, we spread our sleeping bags out single file at the base of Half Dome's face. We needed to be as close to the rock as possible since a surprising number of small stones come sailing down the face at high velocity during the night. When daybreak came, both guys were slow. Chuck had the first pitch and couldn't get it to go for some reason, but mostly their heart wasn't in it. Of course everyone in Camp 4 had their binoculars trained on the face. We then had a leisurely stroll back down the trail taking time out to swim, and arrived in Camp 4 to many jokes and innuendos. I always felt that the whole purpose of the trip was for Chuck to get Frank and myself acquainted with each other. And we did manage to get together on our own after that.
scuffy b

climber
Bad Brothers' Bait and Switch Shop
May 11, 2009 - 11:19am PT
I saw Chris quite a lot around Berkeley from 1973 to 1976.
He was in a phase of getting back into climbing after having
sort of dropped out.
I was in my early twenties, learning and consolidating, and he
was perhaps ten years older.
He reminded me of Jim Crooks and Bruce Cooke, a younger version,
with enough maturity and detachment to recognize that climbing
was not the end all, be all, but just another stimulating aspect
of our interesting and puzzling time here.
We always had fun conversations, and I benefited a lot from
being exposed to his take on solving climbing problems. He was
trying to get back into shape, maybe realizing that he might not
really make it back, so he put a lot of energy into figuring out
ideal placements and body positions.
I last saw him in about 1983.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 11, 2009 - 11:47am PT
Chuck Pratt, the matchmaker! I love it. Great story, Jan!
Roger Breedlove

climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
May 11, 2009 - 12:46pm PT
I love your story, Jan. The details were unique to you, but the circumstances, method, and outcome is, I think, universal to those of us who grew up in the climbing world.

I don't have much to add about Chris. I only knew him in the 70s when he would come to the Valley. I don't think I ever saw him in Berkeley. Are you really, really old guys going to fill in any details about the bomb? What was Chris planning to do, anyway? Blow up Mario Savio?
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 11, 2009 - 05:25pm PT
No, Mario was too busy at Mels Drive-In, prior to Sather Gate. At that time, our buddy Galen was "just" getting into climbing, but spent the majority of his time hanging at Mels and chasing the chicks, much like the Checkered Demon, but with style. The truth, so help me Roper!
scuffy b

climber
Bad Brothers' Bait and Switch Shop
May 11, 2009 - 05:26pm PT
Free Tumbler !!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 11, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
scuffy,

Your mention of Bruce and Jim really brings me back to my Berkeley days from 1969-73. I remember one afternoon around spring of 1973 when Chris was working out at Indian Rock. After he left, a friend asked "who was THAT?" When I told him, and asked why he asked the question the way he did, his reply was simple and to the point: "Because I could tell he was great."

John
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
May 12, 2009 - 01:51am PT
Bruce Cooke, in his 60s I'd think, and doing one-arm pull-ups with a fist jam in the tree down by the 'pit' (or whatever it is called) of Indian Rock. Amazing.

Chris was around there at that time and Galen was ever present it seemed.


Jeez, Indian Rock, I'd imagine that it is packed nowadays.
John Morton

climber
Sep 3, 2009 - 11:47pm PT
I miss a lot when I don't lurk here often enough. I am evidently the last to have seen Chris Fredericks. The occasion was a memorial gathering for Danny Tavistock, at his Oregon St. house which had been home to many itinerant climbers and odd characters. I can't remember the year, but probably the late 90s. I believe Chris told me he was married and living in Concord. His brother Tom was also there. I gave Glen Denny some pointers which I thought might help in finding Chris in connection with the book, but never heard if he turned up.

re: "Christ" - I concur with Dozier that at one point Chris looked exactly like a typical Renaissance Jesus.

No one has mentioned this, but ... it saddens me to say that one of the most enduring associations of Chris Fredericks and Yosemite is that it was while attempting the rescue of Pratt and Fredericks with Kim Schmitz that Jim Madsen fell to his death. Dick Erb wrote me with this news, and I was numb for a few days, thinking about those people and how our whole community would be affected. I remember Dick telling me that after they figured out what happened (overhand knot pulled through a biner brake) they set up that rig in Camp 4 and it pulled through every time (!!!)

I can understand the logic of a Pratt/Fredericks team. Chris was thoughtful, deliberate and competent, and Pratt was a patient man who didn't insist on climbing only with heroes.

Now to Tavistock: sorry Peter, but that Cobra was definitely a 289. Danny didn't like to be teased about having the smaller engine, but that was one very hot car. He let me drive it for about a block one time, and I realized there was nowhere in Berkeley that you could take it past 2nd gear.

Danny lived in low-rent W. Berkeley when he got the Cobra. He liked to leave his Terray (as down jackets were then known) in the open car, demonstrating that there was no more crime in that neighborhood than in the hills. But of course the jacket was gone within a day.

Danny was a very talented and athletic climber who kept in shape with one-arm pullups and chain smoking. He had seen gymnasts use chalk, and would rub his palms in the disgusting dust of Indian Rock before doing a problem. We did YPB and Fairview, and then he quit roped climbing forever. I was quite disappointed, Danny was fast, efficient and safe.

John
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 4, 2009 - 01:38pm PT
Jim Madsen's death had a profound effect on Chris, particularly given the circumstances. He and I had a long talk about it afterward as Jim had eaten dinner with Frank and I in Berkeley only four days before. Chris and Chuck knew nothing of the rescue but on their way up came to realize that something or someone had fallen, and then had the horrible realization of who it was when they came across Jim's glasses lying on a ledge. The last few pitches were climbed under that dark cloud, and was the experience I believe, which caused Chris to go from being a dabbler in meditation to a serious practitioner.

I mentioned in another thread, one of Chris' sayings that was often quoted in those days. It originated during a long unprotected run out and was decidedly humorous in that context, but became a kind of dark slogan for the whole era as the 1960's disintegrated into riots and assassinations - "Good thing things aren't as bad as they are".

Even so, Chris exuded a kind of serenity at the time which most of the rest of us never had.
scuffy b

climber
Sinatra to Singapore
Sep 4, 2009 - 02:44pm PT
John, I hadn't heard that Danny had died. Very sad.

He was a kick to boulder with.

At the drop of a hat, he would lament having sold his Cobra,
but he was also fanatically enthusiastic about some mega-
horsepower Volkswagen project he had going.

I never could figure out where all his fitness came from--
how much power could all those cigarettes supply, really?
TomKimbrough

Social climber
Salt Lake City
Sep 8, 2009 - 05:55pm PT
I was on top of El Cap with Madsen checking on Pratt and Fredricks.
As Madsen was rigging the rap off the top I walked around to near the top of the Salathe to peek over and heard sounds of P & F climbing. They were OK; we didn't need to go over the edge. As I was walking back to call the effort off Loyd Price met me with the news that Jim had fallen.
Most of the crew left but Schimtz, Bridwell and myself waited for P & F who didn't arrive until almost dark.
I think the accident took a lot of the joy out of climbing for Fredricks.
I last saw Fredricks in the Tetons in the last 90s. He was married, living in Concord and I got a phone #. Some time later I got no answer at that #.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 8, 2009 - 06:20pm PT
Tom/K, it was also not clear how well Kim Schmitz did afterwards. A really horrible moment in our history. I think it was the first really wretched thing to befall any of you guys back then and at times when I climbed with Kim a couple of years later I could feel it working in him and he did not want to talk about it.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Sep 8, 2009 - 06:39pm PT
It was only a month later when myself, Schmitz, Kimbrough, Steck,Robbins and I believe Fredricks were all together on Half Dome to pull Rowell and Harding off the South Face.

I had forgotten the close proximity to the Madsen accident until a recent e-mail from Kimbrough. Christ that was 41 years ago!

When Baldwin fell off the East Face of the Column in 1964, it was Sacherer, Herbert and myself that first arrived. That was a wretched experience.
TomKimbrough

Social climber
Salt Lake City
Sep 8, 2009 - 08:10pm PT
Yeah, that accident did affect us all. Kim has had his problems and some this year as well. Even Pratt's best climbs may have been before that black day. I didn't do much in the Valley after that for about 10 years. Steve Williams was the first to find Madsen and I don't think that image ever left his brain. What about Bridwell? Well, he is a hard man.
jstan

climber
Sep 8, 2009 - 10:39pm PT
Momentarily I ran into Madsen Schmitz in C4 right after they had their first amazing year. Jim was kind enough to answer my silly eastern question. It is always good to run into very able youngsters driven purely by the excitement to be found in the world. You can tell when there is any other reason.

What happened affected those of us in the east also. Of course we wanted to know why this had to be. When told it was Pratt on the wall

nothing more needed to be said.

Edit:
I have not seen it mentioned so I will. Both Chuck and Chris must have been devastated by what happened.

When we all are off doing whatever, maybe we should think about this, more than we do. About what will be left behind.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 8, 2009 - 10:56pm PT
Johno Stannard, I agree. That Pratt was down there on the wall was a huge part of the situation. A fact not always accounted for. We all loved him so and it appeared to be a huge situation to those/you guys..

TomK, I did not know that Slings (Steve Williams) was the first to find Jim’s body. god...when I knew him he was in desperate shape by 1970. Badly.

Bridwell not only was and is a hardman but also a very very experienced ski patrolman and even by this point had seen tons. Something often not mentioned is that Jim’s (Bridwell’s) father was a airline captain. For awhile we would call Jim “captain”. In those days he had a broad and encompassing stance and could handle anything, after all he raised Klemens and I (grin), proof he was a reptile.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 8, 2009 - 11:02pm PT
Death is a part of the game we play. When people we admire and respect (think Bachar, Copp, Dash and Luebben) meet their end; we pause, we reflect, we honor and we move on.
storer

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Sep 8, 2009 - 11:06pm PT
Fredericks (r) and Gillette (l) at a Bear Valley XC race c1977.
I saw Chris at several XC races in the mid-70's. Why don't we old Yosemite-Berkeley types get together at LaVal's sometime?

http://img180.imageshack.us/img180/9172/bearvalley1.jpg
storer

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Sep 8, 2009 - 11:07pm PT
Fredericks (r) and Ned Gillette (l) at a Badger Pass XC race c1977.
I saw Chris at several XC races in the mid-70's.
Why don't we old Yosemite-Berkeley types get together at LaVal's sometime?
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