Say Hello to a Real Mountain Legend!
By Linda McGavin
One of our local skiers on Mt. Hood has just completed his 50th year skiing, having started in 1954 at the age of 17. His first runs were taken at the rope tow at Summit, and, true to his adventurous nature, he did his first “tree skiing,” getting lost and having to hike out onto Highway 26. Fred was one of the first customers on the very first day of Mt. Hood Meadows’ grand opening in 1968.
Lifelong Love of Skiing
Fred’s love of skiing has continued throughout his entire life. You won’t find him skiing the packed runs at a ski area; he’s always in the trees or the off piste areas. When following Fred on a trek that seems to go on forever, he always assures you that there’s some great untracked snow ahead of you, and that “it’s worth it”! Thirty years ago Fred became the North American representative for Canadian Mountain Holidays, a British Columbia heli-skiing and heli-hiking operation. He is a friend of Warren Miller, has been in some of the Warren Miller movies, and for years was the Master of Ceremonies when the movies came to Portland in the fall.
Fred’s enthusiasm, energy, and adventurous spirit have led him to pursue other exciting sports, from windsurfing to scuba diving to paragliding, and to travel all over the world to engage in these sports. On his 62nd birthday Fred wind surfed the Gorge in the early morning; drove to Mt. Hood for several runs on his snowboard and skis; and then headed out to the eastern Gorge for some afternoon paragliding. He rescued a friend from a tree; attended a BBQ in White Salmon, and during the midnight ride back to Portland was complimenting his date for making it through the marathon day, only to look over and see her sound asleep - he had worn her out!
A tragic accident didn't slow him much at all
Fred suffered a tragic accident in March of 2003 while paragliding in Brazil, falling approximately 35 feet, driving his right leg into the hip joint, and breaking his pelvis. The surgery in Brazil left him with 4 plates and 12 screws holding his pelvis together and his right leg shorter than the left and practically useless. Through sheer willpower, a lot of physical therapy, a 1" lift under all his footwear on the right side, and a lot of help from his friends, Fred was walking by summertime. When ski season started he was on the slopes; first for 1 run a day; then 2; and despite pain “like twisting screwdrivers in his back” he kept at it. He didn’t just ski the green runs; he hiked through the woods and skied powder snow. He spent 26 days on Mt. Hood and 4 weeks heli-skiing this past season, racking up over 1,000,000 vertical feet and getting back to “hucking big air.” This summer he has gone mountain climbing in Canada and is back trying out windsurfing again. He claims he is only at 80% of his former self, but for regular humans that’s 100%.
Fred is one of a kind - an absolutely amazing person - and my personal hero. If you see him on the mountain or in the Gorge, or somewhere on his world travels, say hello to a real mountain legend!