Chris Fredricks -- where he be?


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Anne-Marie Rizzi

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.

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

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.


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???

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.

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.

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

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.
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