Freddie Snalam recently died in an avalanche in France, I wrote the following after I heard the sad news.
Freddie Snalam was a genuine eccentric, someone who absolutely saw the world and life differently. I spent a few weeks with Freddie in the Italian Dolomites in '98, just climbing and soaking up the mountains. We frequently encountered old bunkers, barbed wire and remnants of the Via Ferrata, or ladders, that the troops from Austria and Italy used in the first World War. We would look at these ruins and talk about why and how men could do battle with each other in such a supremely beautiful setting. Freddie just got "it," whatever "it" was; a heartbreakingly beautiful sunset, soft orange light spilling across barbed wire from the war and then lighting a lone streaked cliff as the valleys sunk into the shadow of late evening There are few people I've traveled in the mountains with who really understand what the last light of the day on a summit feels like, or who can speculate about how the soldiers who fought with that light in the sky might have felt. When I first met Freddie I thought he was mad, I mean really clinically off his rocker. Later I realized that indeed he truly was, but damn was it inspired madness! For the last few years we've traded emails, phone calls and cryptic messages on answering machines near couches where we surfed. I'll miss those messages and the absolutely unlimited sense of opportunity they always offered. "Hi Will, Freddie here, I was thinking about India and wondered if you might be interested. Got a project, nothing too much really, but it could be fun, snowboards and such. Give a call." No matter what his message was it always had the same basic tone: Go. Laugh. Live. We are ALIVE, and it's glorious! Thanks Freddie.
Gary Ryan wrote the following, it's cowboy poetry at its best.
Freddie, you were often as mad as a hatter.
you were lovable, so often that didn’t matter.
slender and laughing you hailed from the dales,
you came with a long list of great routes upon which you had failed.
whether molehill or himalaya, it was all good to you.
it was didn’t matter.
long as there would be drinking and perhaps girls to be flattered.
you loved your women, your heart was large and ever so free.
how could it be you had more girlfriends than me?
lived and loved for the moment that’s true, and with your heart
upon your sleeve….you bedded more women than I could believe.
loved your climbing and skiing too.
don planks and go wonder.
‘Haute Route’ was merely a piss up out yonder.
your stories were thick and often ironic, like that bivy on Birdbrain where we
shared gin and tonic.
the mountains they claimed you for one of there own, rest assured you’ll nay
be forgotten where ever I roam.
true, there’s a void left for us and there’s nothing can fill it.
will sorely miss those mornings of tea, toast and skillet.
were a star mate, and that’s about all I can say.
for all the fond memories, there’s some for each day.
have known you and shared just a touch of your life was for me a great honor.
see you anon my friend…..and we will tie on another.