Learning from Old-Timers — A Day with Fred in the Dolomites

September 19, 2013

Steve Stone Steve Stone

Forgive me for going off center, because the video below doesn't have a boat in it.

But it does get right to the core of what Off Center Harbor is all about — featuring the most talented mariners, pioneers and craftspeople who have quietly mastered their discipline, in a small corner of the world, without fanfare.

When we join these people in their shops, and on their boats, we feel honored to be in their presence, and as we take the experience that they've shared with us and craft it into a short video, we feel a meaningful sense of accomplishment.

Others can then now follow in their footsteps, and know exactly how they built their boat, or how they sailed her, and why.

This video took me by surprise, and inspired me, as I think about how amazing it would be if there were a series of videos with Fred Beckey showing us all the "how" and the "why" of his climbing. That would be so valuable, to so many people, and help keep that circle of inspiration and knowledge spinning from old-timers ... to young whippersnappers ... back to old-timers ... and back to newbies ...

The video bothers me in a way, too, because every time I see it I'm reminded that I don't sleep on dirt enough.

Enjoy. Steve

Here's a link to Fred Beckey's obituary in the New York Times.


26 Responses So Far to “Learning from Old-Timers — A Day with Fred in the Dolomites”:

  1. Avatar Rick Clark says:

    Almost too much for words Steve….a Blessed life!

  2. Avatar George Shea says:

    Fred’s life was without compromise. In my mid 20s I had the good fortune to attend and then instruct in the Wind Rivers for the National Outdoor Leadership School (now NOLS) under the guidance of Paul Petzoldt and the amazing group he had put together at the time. In those days, the courses were 35 days. Lives were indeed changed because there is something about mountaineering.

  3. Avatar Norman Palmer says:

    I have never written of my sailing experiences. Training at the Sheepshead Bay Merchant Marine training station I sailed 2 weeks on the Vema, a 3 master that was metal hull built early 1900s. I quickly learned how to climb the braces and go out on a yard to fairly or reef sail. Swedish steam to weigh anchor and hoist sail. Back at base we raced 28 fit wooden whale boats,either rowed or sales with a dipping lug rig. My last sail boat was a 14 foot Falcon, a racing class. Had a cubby cabin, and I used a long shaft, British Seagull 1 1/2 HP. An indestructible motor. Under power could make 5-6 knots, which at times was no help in a 7 knot current. That was in the South Shore of Long Island, Ater my discharge having a contact in New England we started a business of buying Cape Cod Catboats, sailing them down the coast and around to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY where we sold them. No great profits,but we had fun.

  4. Avatar John Cameron says:

    I grew up on the water and in the mountains around Seattle. Climbing with Fred could only be about one person. His book guided me up many peaks. Eventually I wound up working on the other coast. New friend. Fred Becky on his bookshelf in Boston. What are you doing with this book? Seems he would go out to the Cascades and climb. Thanks for letting me watch the guy whose footsteps I followed for many years and for bringing back many good memories.

  5. Avatar Daniel Sweeney says:

    It’s fine there is no boat in this story.
    If the story telling and philosophizing goes on long enough I will sometimes get around to telling young listeners that oceans mountains and deserts are actually all the same. They will test you, they will inspire you, they will feed you, and if you’re not prepared, careful, and respectful, they can kill you.

  6. Avatar Theodore Gentsch says:

    Simply put, what a magnificent journey thought life, an exceptional Human!

  7. Avatar Mark Burchfield says:

    My Dad taught me how to “tie” a clove hitch 60 years ago, with a chain, on a log, being pulled by our pony to where it would be split for fence posts. Thanksgiving Day he was standing with one foot on a tractor’s step and the other on a tire tread, working on the battery set: he will be 87 in February. We would all be blessed to have such men in our lives, and be such ourselves, in any air.

  8. Avatar Henrique van Deursen says:

    Saw it many times, always with watering eyes , on those moments we realize that how short and speedy life is, and how foolish we are in ruining our time here instead be more easy and simple, is hard to climb with big loads….

  9. Avatar David Hubbard says:

    Great! We may slow down some, but we don’t have to stop!

  10. Avatar Robert J England says:

    Thank you!

  11. Avatar David Mowen says:

    Thanks again for this Steve. Reminds me with much respect for my father who retired from the Carpenter’s trade at age 75, to move to Vermont where he then (with his own hands) totally restored a farmhouse. His love of N.E. architecture and his meticulous craftsmanship gave my folks a fine home for the next 25 years. That I should live such a quality-producing life!

  12. Avatar Edward Hollister says:

    the presents of giants during our time on earth makes me proud

  13. Avatar Ronald Coddington says:

    This video speaks directly to the misplaced worship and adoration poured out on youth in our nation today. Current wisdom often relegates anyone older that forty as over the hill. The wisdom and experience of those who have walked the roads, summited the peaks, swum the rivers, lived life to its fullest and so forth is no longer valued or respected. That’s one big thing I admire about you Off Center Harbor guys – your grey hair, your wrinkles and the related in depth comprehension of all things nautical that can only be gained doing what you have done for decades. Thanks for standing in and being who you are for others to admire and follow.

  14. Avatar Eric Michaels says:

    Steve I think this has a lot to do with boats. For me, It is just like boats in the ways we love being on the water: being out and in tune with nature and our place within it; and the nature within us that moves us to pursue simplicity and clutterless thought. I would suggest more of this sort of video.

  15. Avatar Vance Scott says:

    Truly inspirational

  16. Avatar Geoff Kerr says:

    Our world is a very small one. I climb one trip a year with my guide daughter Sheldon, and have found myself being lead up climb after climb credited to Fred Beckey with the first ascent. She has regaled me with tales of encounters with Fred, sometimes on an approach, sometimes on rock, sometimes in a local climber’s store or bar, and sometimes in her own guest room. He travels his world confident that a life lived fully and generously will continue to support him with friends, shelter and reward. May we all find such a passion and a group to share it with.

  17. Avatar Ellen Massey Leonard says:

    This was wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Avatar Dana Carini says:

    wonderful filming- great spirit

  19. Avatar Jon Arcuni says:

    Thanks for sharing this video to this old man. Now if I could just lose some weight, everything would be fine.

  20. Avatar terry brower says:

    It’s hard to complain about a few aches and pains getting out of bed each morning when you see someone half again as old as you is out climbing mountains.

  21. Avatar Gary Shinn says:

    Thanks for that! I believe it was Fred Beckey who I met on the trail down from the summit of Mt. Baker 23 years ago. My climbing partner, Bill Bates and Fred were longtime friends.What an inspirational video!

  22. Avatar carl prestipino says:

    Wonderful – it captures the spirit and toughness of that generation. My father didn’t climb mountains, but he pushed on doing everyday things like cutting the grass, and going for a ride in our motorboat around the same local lake every Sunday morning. His breathing and movements were labored just like Fred’s, but he was determined to do as much as possible until the day he died at 91 years old. This video was like watching my father and made me cry in a bitter-sweet way. Thank you.

  23. Avatar Lee Fox says:

    That was great! VERY INSPIRATIONAL! Go Fred! Go! Climb another mountain!

  24. Avatar William Gehring says:

    Thanks for this inspirational video. It will make it easier to get this old body out of bed tomorrow.

  25. Avatar Vince Bobrosky says:

    THANK YOU for sharing Steve. Driven passion to keep doing what inspires a person is something that many of us need to be reminded of. This is what building a legacy is all about.
    Mr. Fred Beckey is definitely defining his legacy.

    Many of the articles at OCH touch of this aspect of life. That is one of the many things that make OCH such wonderful place to hang out!

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