Chris Fredricks -- where he be?

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Largo

Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 26, 2007 - 01:34am 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 26, 2007 - 02:26am PT
Hollywood ?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 26, 2007 - 03:28am 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 - 05:40am PT
I did my first peak – Mt Sill, Swiss Arête – with Chris and John Fisher. Both were nice guys.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 26, 2007 - 11:32am 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 - 11:57am 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 - 12:22pm 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 - 02:13pm 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 - 06:19pm 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 - 07:51pm 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 - 11:25pm 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 - 11:37pm 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 - 11:54pm 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 27, 2007 - 12:13am 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 27, 2007 - 01:03am 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 27, 2007 - 01:09am 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 27, 2007 - 01:28am PT
Good stuff Pat!
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 27, 2007 - 11:45am 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 - 11:48am 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 - 03:39pm 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.
Anne-Marie Rizzi

climber
Apr 29, 2007 - 12:53am PT
This started out about Fredericks, has transitioned to Pratt.

How well did we know any of these people with whom we spent intensely intimate and formative times, on or off rock? Interacting with them was so immediate. There was an intimacy of common lifestyle and climbing goals and we either liked each other or tolerated each other, and occasionally disliked each other. But how well did we actually know each other as we grew?

I know very few people who haven't been troubled or had an element of sadness in their evolution through life.

Anne-Marie
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 29, 2007 - 01:18am PT
here is a more complete list (?)

Ribbon Falls, West Portal, 5.8, Ribbon Falls, FA, 1963, Chris Fredericks, Steve Roper
Sacherer-Fredericks, 5.10c, Cathedral Rocks, Middle Cathedral Rock, Northeast Face, FA, 1964, Frank Sacherer, Chris Fredericks
Washington Column, South Face, 5.8, Washington Column, FA, 1964, Layton Kor, Chris Fredericks
The Bay Bush, 5.6, Sentinel Rock, Sentinel Creek Area, FA, 1965, Chris Fredericks, Steve Miller
Flying Buttress Direct, 5.9, Sentinel Rock, FA, 1965, Chris Fredericks, Layton Kor
Lower Cathedral Spire, Fredricks-Sacherer Variation, 5.9, Cathedral Rocks, Lower Cathedral SpireFA, 1965, Chris Fredericks, Frank Sacherer, TM Herbert
Crack of Redemption, 5.9, Lower Merced Canyon, South, Elephant Rock, East Side, FA, 1965, Chuck Pratt, Chris Fredericks
Entrance Exam, 5.9, Lower Merced Canyon, North, Arch Rock, FA, 1965, Chuck Pratt, Chris Fredericks, Larry Marshaik, Jim Bridwell
Twilight Zone, 5.10d, Lower Merced Canyon, North, The Cookie Cliff, FA, 1965, Chuck Pratt, Chris Fredericks
Snake Dike, 5.7, Half Dome, Southwest Face, FA, 1965, Eric Beck, Jim Bridwell, Chris Fredericks
Captain Hook, Right, 5.9, El Capitan, West Buttress, Base, FA, 1963, Glen Denny, Eric Beck, Dave Cook, FFA, 1965, Tom Gerughty, Chris Fredricks
The Cleft, 5.9, Lower Merced Canyon, North, The Cookie Cliff, FA, 1958, Chuck Pratt, Wally Reed, FFA, 1965, Chuck Pratt, Chris Fredricks
Lower Cathedral Rock, East Buttress, 5.10c, Cathedral Rocks, Lower Cathedral Rock, FA, 1956, Mark Powell, Jerry Gallwas, Don Wilson, FFA, 1965, Steve Thompson, Chris Fredricks
English Breakfast Crack, 5.10c, Lower Merced Canyon, North, Arch Rock, FA, 1966, Chris Fredericks, Kim Schmitz
Braille Book, The, 5.8, Cathedral Rocks, Higher Cathedral Rock, FA, 1966, Jim Bridwell, Chris Fredericks, Brian Berry
Leverage, 5.10, Upper Merced Canyon, North, Liberty Cap, FA, 1966, Joe Faint, Chris Fredericks
Happy Gully, 5.8, Half Dome, South Face, FA, 1966, Joe Faint, Warren Harding, Chris Fredericks
Dakishna (Psycho Killer), 5.11, Washington Column, North Dome, FA, 1983, Dan Dingle, Ken Black, FFA, 1966, John Hudson, Chris Fredricks
Dinner Ledge, 5.10a, Washington Column, Base, FA, 1952, Don Goodrich, Dave Dows, FFA, 1966, John Hudson, Chris Fredricks
Edge of Night, 5.10c, Three Brothers, Middle Brother, Camp 4 Wall, Far Left, FA, 1967, Chris Fredericks, Rich Doleman, Jim Bridwell
Higher Cathedral Rock, East Face Route, 5.10, Cathedral Rocks, Higher Cathedral Rock, FA, 1967, Jim Bridwell, Chris Fredericks
Doggie Do, 5.10a, Three Brothers, Middle Brother, Camp 4 Wall, Left , FA, Chris Fredericks


Doggie Do is listed in Roper as a variation, but no date, sometime between 1967 and 1971
jstan

climber
Apr 29, 2007 - 01:38am PT
Unlooked, we keep coming on little flecks of gold, like those above, that affect us far more deeply than would 200 pages of prose. And get closer to the truth while still respecting the uses of mystery.

Who among us wants to read the final chapter of this story?
Raydog

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Apr 29, 2007 - 01:46am PT
well said jstan, well said.
Oli

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Apr 29, 2007 - 04:16pm PT
One of my great adventures was the Steck/Salathe on Sentinel with Chris Fredericks, in September 1964. I had come to the Valley with Robbins, as his teen protege, and he didn't want me having any free rides. He wanted me to prove myself so immediately said I should climb Sentinel. Chris was, at that point, just at the beginning of his own career and learning about difficult cracks and such things. Used to climbing with Kor and Royal and some really fast climbers, such as Dalke, it was a bit of a shock how slow Chris moved then. Yet he was competent in a strange, precise, deliberate manner. All the way up, we felt a good spirit between us. Between whimpering and laughing, and not having even close to a proper amount of food or water (and suffering mightily for it), it was a rich, very beautiful introductory adventure in Yosemite climbing. I have nothing but the best thoughts for Chris, and for Pratt, and for all those mighty spirits of the golden age.

Pat
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 2, 2007 - 11:33am PT
I finally cleaned up my list and found that Ed beat me to it, so I'll delete mine. Cheers

Jstan- the mystical phenomenologist has it entirely correct. These slices of personal history are the heartiest of fare!

Oli- do you remember seeing the original can of Salathe's bivi food tucked into the crack at the belay below the Narrows? I'm sure it was still there when you had your adventure.
DrDeeg

Mountain climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
May 8, 2009 - 12:12pm PT
As Anne-Marie noted, the thread seems to migrate toward Chuck Pratt, who certainly deserves his own thread.

So ... getting back to Chris Fredericks:

We sometimes referred to him as Christ, because of the similarity in appearance to paintings of Jesus (a great beard, and kind eyes). There was also a (short) time when Christ had a girlfriend and wasn't climbing as much. Steve Thompson had the best talent for composing limericks in that era, and he came up with:

As Christ grew increasingly sexual,
His climbing became ineffectual.
Sublimation, he found
Could be gotten around
By means more directly erectual.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 8, 2009 - 10:44pm PT
Fredericks and Pratt are forever linked in my mind because I met them both together in the winter of 1964-65 in Boulder, and together they worked on convincing me to move to California and spend the summer of 1965 living in the Valley. Chris seemed ok with winter but Chuck complained bitterly about Boulder being “this white frozen hell”. One of my most vivid memories is that of Chuck demanding that I turn on my oven as soon as he arrived at my apartment so that he could shove his legs into it up to the knees, to thaw out. Only when the rubber soles began to smell, would he agree to back up a bit.

It was Chris however, who arranged for us to take some peyote that had been brought back from Mexico by another climber in the days when psychedelics were still legal. The three of us plus another girl Chris knew, took it together. The other girl threw up and missed out on the trip. For Chris and I the experience provoked a life long interest in mysticism and eastern religion. For Chuck it was just another experience. In any case, I had a series of vivid dreams afterwards based on character sketches of various Valley climbers that the two of them had shared with me. Both Chris and Chuck used to look forward to my recounting these dreams. Several, including one of my soon-to-be husband, Frank Sacherer, were quite prophetic.

The summer of 1965, the only permanent members of Camp 4 were myself, Chris, Chuck, and Tom Gerruty. Even Bridwell came and went that year. Of this group, the one I spent the most time with was Chris, because of our mutual interest in eastern religion and meditation. Of all of us, Chris was the poorest, and I finally had to loan him money until some that was owed to him came through. I remember that his mother visited him in Yosemite that summer too.

Unfortunately I broke my arm catching a leader fall the first week I was there so the only climbing I managed with Chris was a group ascent of Church Bowl Chimney which the mysterious Chuck Ostin led. Everyone complained bitterly about the terrible scraping noises my cast made as I chimneyed up. By the time the cast was off, Chris and Chuck were busy doing serious climbs and so Chuck Ostin and Frank were my ususal partners.

When I migrated to Berkeley that fall, Chris initially found me a place to stay on the floor of an apartment he shared with several others. He introduced me to another friend with similar interests, named Danny Tavistock. Frank and Eric Beck were rooming together then until Frank and I married. Chris used to come to dinner occasionally and always amazed us by the amount of food he could pack away.

I’m not sure who gave him the nickname of Christ, but it happened the summer of 1965.

Meanwhile, I heard recently from a mutual friend that Chris had married after all these years and was living in suburban Antioch, California???
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 8, 2009 - 11:28pm PT
Jan,

That last post was interesting. Danny Tavistock was a pure-Berkeley character BITD. He actually owned a AC Cobra, I think the small one, the 302. But it could have been the 427. He was really a cool character and made his climbing home Indian Rock. He tended to get nervous on actual rope out in the wild, and so Jim Crooks gave him a sedative when they were on the Apron one time, and he soared. The weird edgy freak-factor stopped and he climbed perfectly. He was almost a "rock-star" kind of character but way cool to all us kids and had a great body for climbing. Looked kind of like a reasonably well-fed Keith Richards, but not quite that frightful. We all really liked Danny. Thanks for bringing him up. AS for Fredericks, no clue. But yeah, he had a Jesus (I look like Pratt) thing going on. He became a relic by 1970.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 8, 2009 - 11:37pm PT
Speaking of Tavistock, I have no idea what kind of car he owned. I just remember that he and Eric Beck decided to dismantle it which they did right down to the nuts and bolts. I forget how many separate pieces and parts they ended up with - hundreds anyway. They then reassembled it and only had to change one thing to get it to restart after the big reconstruction.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
May 8, 2009 - 11:53pm PT
It was mentioned that Chris, at one time, acquired the name "Christ". This was not metaphysical. Rather, He did the first ascent of a traverse on the boulder just east of the East Camp 4 bathroom. At one point, this necessitated facing out, with both hands spread for balance, much like being crucified.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 9, 2009 - 12:11am PT
And, like, E-B, he did not look like Christ in the slightest.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
May 9, 2009 - 12:20am PT
Here's another from November 1963. Chris and I were late hangers on in Camp 4. We decided to climb the North Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock. Some details I still remember: We walked all the way down to the climb in the dark. Chris had the first lead, 70 feet, 5.7. He took 45 minutes to lead this.
I should have listened to my instincts at that point and cancelled the climb. We continued on. As I remember, the route never saw the sun and I was climbing in a sweater. About half way up, I took over all the leads in the hope of still making it up in one day. We finally wound up bivouacing at the end of all the real climbing on a large ledge with trees. We even had a fire.
The following morning we had a 3rd class section, one 5.6 pitch up through a section of white rock and then scrambling up to the summit of MCR. We went up and around HCR and down the Spires Gully.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 9, 2009 - 03:31am PT
I lasst saw Chris in about 1972 at Indian Rock. He described that same ascent that Eric did -- in about the same way. In fact, he told me hid did the North Buttress twice, and bivvied both times.

John
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
May 9, 2009 - 05:43am PT
Chris is a wonderful person, we spent some quality time together in the early 60'sin Yosemite and the Bay Area. Last time I saw him was when I gave him a ride from Tioga Pass to Bishop when he was guiding at the Palisades. I think he was with us on the Rowell /Harding rescue on the South Face of Half Dome, but not sure. Kimbrough can't remember either, but I recollect Fredericks was there.

I remember watching Chris and Pratt sitting out the storm on the Dihedral Wall and thinking what a perfect climbing team. In temperment, intellect and dialogue they were a perfect match.

There was also a interesting incident at UC Berkeley that involved Chris and a homemade bomb and I wonder if anyone remembers that scenario? Morton,Dozier,Beck???
dogtown

climber
Cheyenne,Wyoming
May 9, 2009 - 05:55am PT
When you guy's talk I'm all ears. More please!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 9, 2009 - 08:47am PT
Last time I saw Chris was in the very early 70's. He actually was in Camp Four for awhile again, around the time that Pratt was also. Yeah, Guid. he was a very nice guy and it was hilarious how twinned out he and Pratt were.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 9, 2009 - 10:19am PT
I knew Pratt peripherally in the early 70's. We were nobodies from the Gunks trying to learn a bit about climbing granite, and Pratt was one of the undisputed gods of the Valley. Although we had already (unbeknown to us) broken in to 5.11 face climbing, we were scared of 5.9 offwidth and not always able to even get up 5.10.

Some of the other ancient "gods" of the era walked around camp 4 radiating superiority and condescension. (I am not speaking here of the second generation of "gods," Peter Haan, Jim Bridwell, Mark Klemens, and Barry Bates to mention those I knew, who were always friendly and even enjoyed providing tutorial help for benighted Eastern face-climbers.) Perhaps, as Pat alluded, we constituted part of a new wave of climbing hoi polloi invading the ancient ones' sacred space. If we were, then it is interesting to note that Pratt, who felt the loss of paradise most keenly, was also one of those locals who was always welcoming. You sensed immediately that Pratt was interested in you (or not) as a person, not by virtue of your climbing c.v.

One incident stands out in my memory. Stannard and I were pouring over Roper's guide, preparing for an attempt on the Salathe-Steck. I think this would have been late sixties; 1970 at the latest. Pratt overheard us and came by to reassure us---don't worry, its not the base of El Cap (where we had had decidedly mixed success), and don't let Roper's downgrading psyche you out; a number of the 5.8 pitches are really 5.9. He wanted us to have fun and succeed, not fail and be impressed with Yosemite standards, and he went out of his way, without being approached, to be helpful to a pair of "invaders." That we did have fun and succeed is partially due to his help and, if I may be allowed a bit of softness I'm sure he wouldn't own up to, his nurturing attitude.
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
May 9, 2009 - 04:28pm PT
Chris had indeed dabbled in bombs. In his first years at Cal, he was living in the dorms. He had concocted a fairly large quantity of what I believe was nitrogen triodide. This supposedly is a shock sensitive compound. Any chemists may correct this if I am wrong. He had enough to flatten the entire dorm.
This was discovered and he was expelled.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 9, 2009 - 05:12pm PT
Eric

I tend to recollect, he located himself and his new concocted "toy" in proximity of Sather Gate, refused to move and...........................? All quite vague but someone out there must remember.

Ah, the things we could get away with back then.
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?
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Sep 9, 2009 - 12:43am PT
In my years at Indian Rock I had encounters with Danny Tavistock two separate times for a couple of weeks or months each. The first was in the early 70s when the "Ape's traverse continuation" was done. He just showed up from the blue, got back into shape and did the problem. Then he dissapeared for several years.

Around 1976 Nat did his traverse at Mortar Rock. A couple of years afterwards, once again Danny just showed up from nowhere. Somehow his radar picked up the presence of some new challenge at his old rock. He worked on the traverse for quite some time and finally did it without the first corner. We could never figure out why he omitted that part.

Bruce and Jim told me tales of the great Danny Tavistock and mentioned his mantle across from Watercourse. We all could do various versions of that mantle so I asked what was so special about it.

He did it facing outward.

hooblie

climber
Sep 9, 2009 - 04:49am PT
if wisdom anchors the elusive end
of the spectrum of dismissiveness,
pausing to honor and reflect
may be the way we solve the traverse.

our's is a provocative endeavor.
we respond to the planet's most austere expressions,
ante up with our essence, and persist with conviction of purpose
beyond our abilty to account for the toll.

we move on,
but we acknowledge the presence of more
than we can knowingly ascribe
to the nature of our journey
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Sep 9, 2009 - 05:41am PT
Cragman and Hooblie

Thank you for clarifying something I could not put into words. Well stated and refreshing.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 9, 2009 - 09:36am PT
You're right Cragman- we never forget.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 9, 2009 - 09:40am PT
Fred Cook,

The backwards mantle was a very old route that we were already doing by 1963. It actually wasn't that hard. I wouldn't be surprised if people were doing it in the fifties.
FredC

Boulder climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Sep 9, 2009 - 03:12pm PT
Hi Peter,

I just remember Bruce and Jim talking about Danny doing it. I agree it was not too hard. I even managed it.

I also heard rumor that Danny may have done "The Bubble" on the overhand around the corner sometime. I never saw anyone do that until much later. Did you guys work on that one?

FC
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 3, 2009 - 08:18am PT
Chris - Camp 4 - 1965
Chris - Camp 4 - 1965
Credit: Glen Denny

This photo was taken of Chris by Glen Denny and appeared in the first issue of Ascent in 1967. It is used with his permission.
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Jan 4, 2010 - 09:27pm PT
How can I get a hold of Pratt's writings? anything online?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 4, 2010 - 10:47pm PT
The South Face of Mount Watkins

View from Dead Horse Point

there is a third, I believe... I'll search
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jan 4, 2010 - 11:07pm PT
Don't forget his piece about climbing in the
Ribbon Falls amphitheater, and the rats... That's
a nice piece.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Jan 5, 2010 - 05:50pm PT
It was Chris who talked me into going to the Valley for the first time in 1965.
Yes, he was one of the slowest climbers I ever climbed with. I did my first A4 with him on Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon, January 1965. Very nice guy to hang with.

Hey Patrick Oliver, greetings from your partner on the Diagonal in 1966!

Rodger
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Jan 5, 2010 - 06:58pm PT
Note Squishy, there are only a few pieces by Pratt. He wanted to climb, not write, as he put it, but what he did write is surely some of the best climbing writing in english.
Rick Sylvester

Trad climber
Squaw Valley, California
May 8, 2011 - 08:01pm PT
Chris was very meticulous...and just a great nice guy. Tom Kimbrough and he are two of my alltime favorites from early "Resident Climber" days in the Valley, two unique and very special people as all who have been fortunate to have known them can attest. My first year at Tahoe, -'68/9, a bunch of us climbers shared a rented house in Tahoe City. Chris' girlfriend and I worked at Squaw, I on the pro patrol despite not being a very good skier (bodies were needed; it was just before the mountains became an attractive lifestyle or whatever); the majority at Alpine Meadows. The people who lived or went through that house on Grove Street were the couple Bridwell and Lois Rice (who later married and had 2 children with another of the neatest people I ever climbed with and got to know, John Fischer -- so sad what happened last year). Lois, by the way, was the second female climber -- that was fairly exotic back then -- I ever met. The first was Joy Herron (the namesake for "Jump with Joy" that she did with, I believe, Yvon; it was originally entitled "Guy Fawkes Day" and seemed scary run out-ish just with pitons) when she was Dougal Haston's girlfriend, summer of '66, when I was a student at ISMM 3 months after John Harlin's infamous Eiger Direct accident. Tim Kimbrough and his very nice girlfriend were in that house. Kim Schmitz, like Lois, a very strong skier (Lois had been a Far West junior alpine racer, originally from Gilroy); Eric Beck (I can't recall if he had an s.o.); Mark Klemens; Steve Thompson I think; and Dick and Judy Erb, were there all or part of that snow season. Amazingly (in view of the actuarial tables), Dick and Judy are still together, living in June Lake, as I found out during a chance encounter a few years back while Jeff Schloss and my son Terray and I were hiking in to, finally, climb the South face of Clyde Minaret (Terray, pretty young, elected not to climb, to stay in camp all day so that he could be eaten by mosquitoes, it being a bad year for them).
Schmitz, Bridwell and Beck were on pro patrol under Norm Simmons at Alpine. Chris was a lift operator availing himself of free ski lessons offered to employees. I heard tales of his meticulousness in practicing when he'd been taught, reputedly concentrating on every single turn, never letting go for a moment to just...ski. Yes, "deliberate" indeed. My first trip to Lover's Leap was with and due to him that spring. Also, a failed attempt of Mt. Morrison -- we never left the ground, never found the start of the route. Jed Zenzic, an Alpine patrolman, I believe, was with us. The rock looked scary fragile compared to Valley granite. The last time I saw Chris was at Indian Rock...a couple of decades ago? I'd stopped on my way back to Squaw from the Monterey Jazz Festival. There was someone not climbing, sitting down looking sort of Buddha-like with a carpenter's belt suspended on a bit of a paunch. He hailed me, saying later he'd recognized the distinct sound of my voice --I've never liked it but am stuck with it -- when I was speaking with another boulderer. Chris was still at the Berkeley -- I think -- zen center. Just a unique and great guy, one of Sacherer's main partners on many of the Valley's original 5.10s, real pioneering stuff, not to mention into the unknown realm of the frightening, and of course sans all the great protection options now available.
By the way, when John Bouchard and I returned to Chamonix following an eventful -- and not forecasted storm complete with a meter of new snow and lightning -- Eiger Nordewand ascent (1986), we heard rumor of an accident during the same storm on "The Shroud", which then had the reputation as being the foremost hardest ice climb in the Alps or at least the Mont Blanc Massif. It turned out two Americans had fallen to their deaths, possibly due to lightning (I must research this). They were Frank Sacherer and Joe Weiss. Most climbers including myself had lost track of Frank following his heydey Valley period -- I'm not sure if his tenure and mine even overlapped -- and thought he was out of climbing. An apparently amazing physicist, I believe, he was working at the CERN nuclear reactor in Geneva. But a couple of years before, I think, I'd come across an export form at Snell Sports -- you presented this at the border when you left France so you could get back your 17% or whatever VAT tax if you were a foreigner -- with his name on it showing that he'd purchased ice axe and crampons, so I surmised he was into alpinist, not done with climbing. His partner, Joe Weiss, was not a "name" but I'd had a chance encounter some years earlier with him in Berkeley when I stopped by to visit a former Explorer Scouts member and high school chess teammate, Terry Mast, who -- I learned this only a few years ago -- is famous in astronomical circles as the lead -- ? -- designer of the mirror for the Kech Observatory telescope on Hawaii, the largest land based one, able to peer into the outer edges of the Universe. He seemed a really nice guy but I had no idea he was into climbing or what his skill level was. It was a great shame, a real loss.
ps No, Steck was not atop Half Dome for the South Face rescue of Harding and Rowell. Allen and I were supposed to be on the last chopper ferry but the pilot decided he didn't want to make that final flight in twilight. But our gear -- sleeping bags and related -- went up. I was really bummed, especially when I learned later that a great deal of pyschedelics were present -- the rangers up there reputedly kept silent on the matter, due to being outnumbered and of course incapable of effecting the rescue without the aid of the best climbers in the world. It sounded like a surreal night I'd missed, besides not being able to help out. Lacking my sleeping bag, I ended up having toforce -- it was easy and no damage was done -- my way into one of Curry Company's tent cabins across the street from Camp 4.
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
May 8, 2011 - 09:01pm PT
Rick

Steck was on top for the Rowell/Harding, Half Dome South Face rescue. I have a number of photos from that epic adventure. Once we got the "boys" up and tucked into dual sleeping bags it was a more relaxed and interesting evening. Thanks for the extra bag!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 8, 2011 - 09:26pm PT
Rick,

There is a great long thread on Frank Sacherer here on this forum, including the Shroud accident with photos from his camera, but also his climbs and work as a physicist. Check it out (it will take awhile to read through - 507 posts over 4.5 years).
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=268647
Rick Sylvester

Trad climber
Squaw Valley, California
May 8, 2011 - 11:27pm PT
Steck was up there?! I'm absolutely blown away. Our flight was cancelled. How did he get up there? Was there a morning flight I never heard about? I'll have to ask him unless anyone on the Forum knows. Now, I'm doubly bummed out. This just doesn't make sense.

On to another topic, my betrayal by Pratt. '67 was a sort of lost year for me, though with 20/20 hindsight a key transitional year which shaped the course of my entire life. I was in the Los Angeles area trying to hold together a first marriage that would fail. I'd hooked up with a college roommate's sister. He would later become a footnote in American history as Monica Lewinsky's far from media averse attorney. I had a series of dead end jobs: "kidnapper" (door to door child photographer), after school day camp bus driver/counselor and U.S. postal worker. Sometimes I was at UCLA in two respects: working out with the wrestling team (my college eligibility had been used up at Cal but I was competing in AAU weekend tournaments) and hanging out a bit with the UCLA climbing club, the "Bruin Mountaineers". Its leading light, though I have no real memory if I even met or knew him then, was Ken Boche.. Later I learned he was a particularly skilled friction slab specialist with first ascents on Starr King et al. (the Apron too? I'm not sure). He flew in from Hawaii and sang a song at the Saving Camp 4 celebration a few years back. Members of the club would meet for lunch under a tree on the campus. I made some contacts that led to my first forays to Stoney Point and the Valley (second Yosemite trip ever).
Re. the latter, there was no room in the vehicles so I had to hitch, but with a gorgeous redhead (no room for her?! - talk about equalitarianism). Unfortunately, I was tongue tied then with the opposite sex and couldn't avail myself of any possibilities ( it was probably academic because if there were any openings I was too unperceptive then to have even noticed, being just about the exact opposite of Charlie Sheen's character on "Two and a Half Men"). For climbing I hooked up with Brian Berry (later he was lucky to have gotten in on the first ascent of "Snake Dike"). We hooked up with someone named Chuck Pratt. He led us up the unprotectable (at least then) 80' or so right side of "The Remnant" (5.7/5.8ish). Terrifying. At least I was able to successfully follow it (credit the wrestling). The other route we got up that weekend was the Column's Direct route, the first Valley grade 3 for both of us. Brian had a small cartridge Super 8 cine camera. We ended up showing the footage at the luxurious Mulholland Drive home of one of his many siblings, his brother Jan. Jan was rock 'n roll pioneer/royalty with the seminal duo "Jan and Dean" (it morphed from "Jan and Arnie". Various amazingly beauteous starlet-like girls drifted in and out, also Davey Jones of the then current hit group "The Monkees" who asked Jan, "Do you have the music score ready?" This surprised me because Jan seemed in a semi-vegetable state due to a series of car crashes, especially the final worst one on Sunset Blvd. near UCLA ("Deadman's Curve" -- obviously he sang of what he knew).
Rewind to the summer of '66. Dougal Haston and Don Whillans are running the ISMM school following the death of John Harlin on the Eiger Direct Three of four years ago John Harlin Jr., during a conversation at Telluride's MountainFilm Festival, knocks my socks off with his assertion that Dougal "stole" the school from the Harlin family; also, that "he killed my dad". I never interpreted Dougal's proprietorship or the accident in such a way. I guess John, whom I like and respect, covers it in his book. Anyway, Dougal tells me -- or was it when I guided/instructed
for him the summer of '69, "Climbing is balance and boldness". Substitute "technique" for "balance". Strength, muscling your way up a route, was then considered a negative, bad form. Of course at that point of time in the Alps and the British Isles (with exceptions, like gritstone where Brown and Whillans were credited with creating then state of the art jamming techniques) crack climbing that predominates in places like the Valley and much of the American West, and the required athleticism and physicality to succeed at this type of endeavor were the exception, not the rule in the world of climbing/mountaineering. Oh, I should mention the area near Dresden but of course none of us had heard of it back then.
Fast forward back to '69 or so. A bunch of us penniless climbers get work on a Yosemite Park fire crew. The ones I remember are Werner, Barry Bates and Rod McKenzie. I have a great photo somewhere but -- the horror! the horror! the disorganization! the disorganization! To me this was historic, climbers interacting in an official capacity with the park service. Unreal! Resident climbers (dirtbags, the great unwashed, no visible means of support, shoplifters, way overstayers of the two weeks per year limit...and it was unforeseen at the time that money could be made from us and the activity we were passionate and driven about; it was pre "Go Climb a Rock" t- shirts [Dennis Miller stenciled "somewhere else" on the back; I've long thought this was his cleverest contribution] and the Mountaineering School and Shop) on the one side and the park service and concessionaire, Curry Company, on the other; we were fierce adversaries, total enemies.
So one evening following a day of work, clearing underbrush or some such, we were gathered by the fire station, chugging beer, when a discussion ensued. "Bates can do 3 one arms". Wow. "So, Pratt can do eight!" What!!?? I'd never heard that. I never came close to doing one. I had done 24 two arms in grade or high school -- big deal. Sure, I had the stubborn stick-to-it type of strength if you want to term it that -- I always felt that Harding and I had that in common -- but that gets you only so far; there's no way it can get you up a lot of stuff. Sure I'd heard about Pratt climbing with "perfect technique" to minimize exertion. But who didn't strive for that? And with that type of power under the hood who needed "perfect technique"? So Ament and others can write lyrically about things like "meld[ing] with the moves", being "taught by the rock" and "susceptible to technique" (Steve Grossman) but to me it's more than a bit of a crock. Please don't misinterpret me here. I'm well aware strength without technique gets one only so far;. strength alone won't get the job done. But let's be honest about the role of strength. I still feel betrayed.

Rick Sylvester

Trad climber
Squaw Valley, California
May 9, 2011 - 08:39pm PT
By the way, all this stuff about Chris Fredericks resembling Christ --Chris did not resemble a fictitious character.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 9, 2011 - 10:47pm PT
Looking now back over this thread, there is so much I could have
added or said, but for some reason I must not have been tuned
into the thread at the time,
not much anyway, or was struggling with some other situation.

Pratt told me in detail all the events of Madsen's death, of which he
(Chuck) was aware. He told me about the sound of something falling past
them, how cold they were in that storm, how they found someone's glasses
on a small grassy ledge, as I recall... and much much more... Of course
he didn't know Jim had died until he got to the top. But he shared what
the others immediately told him, about what Jim said. It was chilling to
me to hear what Jim said, according to Pratt, just as the knot
slipped through the carabiners, a phrase which has gone through
quite a few incarnations... and... well,

about Chris... He and I climbed together a few times, our first
route together the Steck-Salathe on Sentinel. Royal had taken me
to Yosemite but wanted me to prove myself on so that it would not
be said I lived too much under his wing... He introduced me to
Fredericks, and this was indeed a fine gentleman but the
slowest climber I had ever met. That didn't matter, because
he could climb quite hard stuff nevertheless. He said
if I brought the gear he would bring the bivouac food,
and to my horrow when we decided to spend the night after
starting in the afternoon the first day, he had brought
virtually nothing. I'd have to look in my memoirs but it was
something like one orange, one candy bar, and one bottle
of water... and we were nearly dying right then and there
for food and water and consumed that pitifully small
amount immediately. I don't know how we continued on
upward and finished, that mal-nourished, and/or famished.

I've already said a lot about him, I think elsewhere...
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
May 10, 2011 - 02:44am PT
I have also wondered where Chris Fredericks wandered off to. Chris and Pratt had a lot of similarities.

Chris did a number of climbs with me in the early 1960s. As a leader he was very slow, intense and persistent and tended to get himself all scratched up and bloody. However he was safe and analytical and an interesting conversationalist. He didn't mind letting his partner lead; and could be considerably faster as a second.

We climbed together the East Buttresses of El Cap, Middle and Lower Cathedral Rock; some of them more than once. Frank Sacherer at one point was encouraging me to complete a streak of climbs by doing all the East Buttresses in one week. However I never went up to do the East Buttress of Higher Cathedral Rock.

Chris and I also did several routes on Rixon's Pinnacle and along the base of El Cap. I was also climbing these routes with Frank or Royal. We were climbing daily and repeating these routes and pushing for speed.

Chris and I also went up for an epic on the Steck-Salathe on Sentinal (I had already done the Chouinard-Herbert with Royal). However Chris got his legs scrapped up so badly on some of the lower pitches that he was in pain and we bailed. He later went back and finished it when Pat first arrived in the valley.

Chris and I were spending a lot of time along the base of El Cap trying to figure out how to speed up direct aid for the big walls. We nailed a row of pins into the center route of Little John Pinnacle and analyzed all the moves for racking and placing pitons and moving up rapidly in slings. Then we raced up to Sickle Ledge one day with Glenn Denny watching. That evening, Glenn told me he thought I was the fastest aider in the valley. However I think that brief moment of glory has been long forgotten.

Chris and I hung a rope off an overhanging pitch at the base of El Cap and timed various configurations of Prusik knots to get up that rope quickly. I was also playing around with some caming devices from a yachting store as rope climbing devices. Then I saw Jumars advertised in a Sporthaus Shuster catalog that Yvon gave me. I ordered a pair and brought them into Camp 4 and showed them to everyone. I first used these with Frank on the El Cap Tree Direct and then on the West Face of Sentinel fixed ropes.

I am not sure why Guido and I didn't know each other in this period; as we clearly have overlapping experiences. We were a small community back then and all climbing together with various combinations of partners before the druggies moved in and took over.

Edit: My first long stint in Yosemite was Christmas vacation from my junior year at Occidental College; arriving by Greyhound Bus with a sack of pitons and books. This was when I first met Frank Sacherer and climbed with him every day. It is also when I met Chuck Pratt and Chris and other regulars of the time.

Chris and I also went up to climb the NW Face of Half Dome one summer. We made a cold uncomfortable bivouac on the sandy ledges near the Robbins traverse. Early the next morning, chilled and sandblasted and in no mood to continue the climb; we continued straight up to the north ridge and followed it to the summit and rejuvenating sunshine. Royal had recently made Camp 4 news by doing a no-hands descent (YDS Second Class) of the cables route. Taking advantage of the cool rock; I repeated the stunt barefoot, i.e. no special footwear (YDS First Class).

Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
May 10, 2011 - 06:34pm PT
Rick-

Lotsa' people who knew him very well (Pratt, in particular) jokingly called him Christ instead of Chris.
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 10, 2011 - 10:25pm PT
Rodger, that was mentioned and discussed quite a bit earlier in the thread.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 11, 2011 - 12:16am PT
Does anyone know what Chris's middle initial was?

I've found a couple of Chris Frederick's in California but no idea if it's him.

I know the Berkeley climbers went through a period of calling each other by their middle names so maybe one of them remembers?
Patrick Oliver

Boulder climber
Fruita, Colorado
May 11, 2011 - 12:19am PT
Yes that was a thing Layton started. Maybe he picked it up from
someone in California, but I tend to think they picked it up
from him. In any case, though, I never heard Chris referred to
by his middle name, and I doubt anyone could even guess it. Almost
everyone referred to him as Fredericks.
Rick Sylvester

Trad climber
Squaw Valley, California
May 11, 2011 - 05:12am PT
I never knew Chris was called or referred to as "Christ" until I got on the Forum. I wonder when it began.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 11, 2011 - 08:58am PT

It was going strong in 1965 already in the Valley. In Boulder we just knew him as Chris.
Cherie

climber
sebastopol, ca
May 22, 2011 - 08:05pm PT
A million years ago Chris was working as night watchman up at Glacier Point Hotel. I was visiting my sister Joan who worked there with him. She introduced him as "Christ," he supposedly having that nickname because he looked so...Christ-like. Just before I joined him on his rounds checking the dark and empty bat-filled upper floors of the hotel, she whispered to me that he had the most beautiful head of hair she'd ever seen, blond and flowing to his hips. Anyone remembering Joan will perhaps recall her fiendish sense of humor. I was 15 and probably incapable of hiding my look of shock and confusion when he took off his stocking cap.
I too wonder where he is and what he's up to. Last saw him when we worked together at Trailwise where he was a down-filler, leaving a trail of feathers wherever he walked, outraging the Christian Asian seamstresses with his Zen Buddhism.


Hello to old Camp 4 friends of yore!

Cherie

Social climber
sebastopol, ca
May 23, 2011 - 08:07pm PT
A million years ago Chris was working as night watchman up at Glacier Point Hotel. I was visiting my sister Joan who worked there with him. She introduced him as "Christ," he supposedly having that nickname because he looked so...Christ-like. And was of a 'spiritual' bent. Just before I joined him on his rounds checking the dark and empty bat-filled upper floors of the hotel, Jo whispered to me that he had the most beautiful head of hair she'd ever seen, blond and flowing to his hips. Anyone remembering her will perhaps recall her fiendish sense of humor. I was 15 and probably incapable of hiding my look of shock and confusion when he took off his stocking cap.
I too wonder where he is and what he's up to. Last saw him when we worked together at Trailwise where he was a down-filler, leaving a stream of feathers wherever he walked, outraging the Christian Asian seamstresses with his Zen Buddhism.


Hello to old Camp 4 friends of yore!
scuffy b

climber
dissected alluvial deposits, late Pleistocene
May 23, 2011 - 08:09pm PT
I was a filler there a few years later.
go-B

climber
Sozo
May 23, 2011 - 09:28pm PT
I feel like a fly on the wall, way cool, Thx!
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Oct 9, 2012 - 11:57am PT
bump

where is he???
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Oct 9, 2012 - 01:44pm PT
I heard from a Berkeley friend that he had gotten married and was living the suburban life in Antioch?
I think John Morton told me that.
storer

Trad climber
Golden, Colorado
Oct 9, 2012 - 10:43pm PT
Pratt would sometimes show up in the basement of Eshleman Hall at UC (early '60's). We would meet regularly during lunch in the UCHC office to socialize. We would traverse around the cubicles using the lower moulding for the feet, trying for "no hands". Chuck was impressive doing this.

I heard that he had lined up standing empty coke bottles there and walked with great composure on their necks. I didn't see this myself but Chuck was so fluid that I can believe it.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 3, 2012 - 12:26pm PT

Piece of cake...Richard Thompson III Sindicato Granitica banquet photo.

I need to contact Chris to see if he would be willing to speak at next years Oakdale Climbers Festival.

Has anyone made headway on his current contact information?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 12, 2012 - 12:26pm PT
Still looking for signs of Chris...

Nothing from Roper that is current.
TomCochrane

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:42pm PT
i do wish Chris would reappear
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 26, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
I am still trying to get contact info for Chris if anyone has suggestions.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Feb 11, 2014 - 01:24am PT
bump
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