I’ll join the chorus and say: RIP, grand master of stone and ice.
in 2009 I had the privilege of traveling to the Canadian Rockies to climb with Fred and two other fine gents (to whom the credits for these photos go and whose last names I have totally forgotten, mea culpa). during those short weeks, Fred became one of my top five mentors as an alpinist and athlete.
we rolled slowly north and as we went Fred deployed his considerable network of friends to give the four of us a place to sleep and some delicious meals. his organization systems and deep concern for cultivating strong relationships were amazing: he had a card listing the names, birthdays, and favorite desserts of each of our hosts. we charmed families in Sandpoint and Spokane by showing up with the relevant pie and stories from the mountains. upon arriving in Jasper, near our climbing objective, as darkness fell, Fred let us know his plan was to sleep in the city park like he did in the 60s while he and Yvon climbed there. since it was likely we’d get kicked out of the park by the cops in 2009, we decided to head to the local bar and figure out what to do next.
we must have looked like a strange crew because the drunkest Canadian in the bar approached us within ten minutes of us sitting down by slurring: “you folksss look interethting. do you need a place to stay?” Fred, who had feigned deafness much of the trip, quickly answered for all of us: “yes! where’s your house?” his wife may have kicked us out at 4am when she discovered four stinky climbers sacked out on her living room floor but quickly invited us back after her climber nephew explained who Fred was. we ended up sleeping on this family’s floor sporadically through the next two weeks between forays into the mountains and our hosts became like our surrogate Canadian family after the trip was over.
these pictures are from our trip up Mount Edith Cavell. during the climb Fred constantly impressed me with his intellect and his mountain witchery. his most recent time in the area was during the aformentioned trip in the 60s but that didn’t cloud his memories of the appropriate streams to drink from, the exact mileage from trailhead to camp to summit and back, and even the weather patterns in this remote corner of the Canadian Rockies. during our trip he nuzzled ‘snafflehounds’ who regarded him as kin, called me ‘the girl’, and cooked a mean alpine curry during our nights at high camp. Fred demonstrated masterful ways to coil a rope so it laid flat over the lid of a pack as well as the optimal coil for keeping a rope from snagging while bushwhacking. he shared his theory on how rockfall works while climbing these chosspiles.
I will always treasure the time I got to spend in the mountains with Fred and I promise to never, ever call him a dirtbag.