Don Lauria

Oh God, it's Fred! September 1999

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Oh God, it's Fred!
September 1999

McKeown,

About 4 weeks ago I was climbing with TM in Tuolumne. We had gotten a late 10:30 AM start and people were already on South Crack, so I insisted that we race up the Eunuch. We did. Back at the base in less than an hour and a half and seeing that the South Crack route was still jammed up with helmeted climbers with huge racks and brand new chalk bags, I convinced Herbert to run up that route just left of West Country. Before I could get TM moving from the car, a young climber with Asian features approached me and asked if I was looking for a climbing partner. I responded, Not really, despite appearances, I had a climbing partner ... see, there he is ... the one with the stupid looking hat. I added that he was not only my climbing partner, but that on occasion he passed as my father. The kid was looking askance at my 20 year old swami belt whose knot no longer had the appropriate length to gird my expanding waistline, and at my distinct lack of a chalk bag. Then I mentioned that HE, my partner, was the famous TM Herbert.

The kid was aghast and agape ... not THE TM Herbert! Yes, I replied, none other. He wanted to be introduced immediately and just casually remarked that he, too, was climbing with a legend. Fred Beckey! I said, Fred Beckey, where? Right there. In that car. I looked back and there, not more than ten feet away, seated in his car and absorbed in some written material in his lap, was Fred Beckey.

Fred, you old fart! How the hell are you?, as I approached the car, not knowing whether old Fred would even know who I was.

My Life in Spire Repair, Act I - Norman Clyde’s Favorite Story

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My Life in Spire Repair , Act I - Norman Clyde’s Favorite Story

It was August in the late 50s. My brother-n-law, Bob, and I were hiking up the north fork of Big Pine Creek on my second backpacking trip- ever. We came upon a strange procession descending the trail. A group of eight military men, Marines as I recall, in fatigue uniforms were bearing a litter with a black plastic bag – a bag we realized probably contained a human body. One of the litter bearers with three stripes on his sleeve asked as we approached, “You guys going as far as Third Lake?” We replied in the affirmative and he asked if we would be willing to share some of our food with a guide that was camped there. Sure we would! He then explained that, yes, indeed, they were carrying a body - a person who had been missing for a week and had just been found the day before by the guide camped at Third Lake. The deceased had been discovered in a couloir near the base of Temple Crag. The sergeant threw in a little aside that sort of caught our attention – the guide found the body by listening for the buzzing of flies.

Dear Batly and Beasto

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March 8, 1973

Dear Batly and Beasto,

I have no objections to you using my "marvelous account" of the buffoonery, providing, of course, that you present the entire picture as I paint it. I certainly don't want to raise the ire of my good friend R.R. I think he feels badly enough about his (our) erasures. (See Mountain #28.) He almost feels as badly about our seconding the route as he does about you and what's-his-name doing the first ascent. It all started at Badger Pass in January of 1971 when Herb Swedlund's smiling moustache and glinting eyes fronted on me over a beer in the snow-bright sunshine outside the ski lodge. He asked me if Royal had been in touch with me regarding a second ascent of the Dawn Wall. I said that he hadn't. He implied that possibly I should contact Royal. I said I would because I was definitely interested. A day later in Los Angeles Royal phoned and put the question to me. I was flattered and highly affirmative. He asked quite intently if I objected to chopping bolts. Hell no!

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