Monte Lee Becker
September 22, 2022
It is with shock and disbelief that we sadly report the untimely death of Monte Lee Becker, age 59. He passed away on the 6th of September, 2022. He and his son Pascal were working at the Intricate Bay Lodge in Iliamna, Alaska, for the summer.
Monte began experiencing shortness of breath a few months ago while in Chile, and while he wouldn't say anything his family noticed. Once in Alaska and two weeks prior to his passing, he had a cramp (as his son described it), his breathing became more difficult and he was no longer able to guide. His son stated that during this time, when Monte would go for his daily walk to get some air, he would come back extremely pale, and unable to speak for lack of breath. The night before Monte passed, when yet again Pascal tried to get him to seek medical attention, his dad said to him, "all we can do is have a positive attitude and hope that the next day will be better." We believe Monte was experiencing heart failure (it ran in the maternal side of the family), and we believe he knew it but refused to seek medical attention. Monte had no medical coverage and we believe he felt that the expenses for his condition would be a significant financial burden. It would be easy to judge at this point, as we would all have gladly helped him with this burden, however, that was not Monte. He was not one to ask for help. He didn't like to talk about stressful or discouraging topics. Monte always had an upbeat attitude, a smile and a twinkle in his eye and that is how we will all remember him.
Monte was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on January 26, 1963, to Keith Vincent Becker and George Ann Harris, while his father was stationed there in the Navy. He moved to Thermopolis, Wyo., at the age of two, and Wilson, Wyo., in Jackson Hole at the age of three. He went to kindergarten through 3rd grade at the Wilson School and first learned to ski at Teton Village at the age of 5. He spent 4th and 5th grade in Lander, Wyo., before spending the rest of his upbringing at the family farm on Owl Creek near Thermopolis, Wyo.
Monte's passion for outdoor adventure led him to develop excellent skills in downhill skiing, fly fishing, rafting, and photography. He was first exposed to rafting through his Uncle Denny Becker on the Snake River in Jackson, Wyo. Through his father, he garnered his love of fly fishing from an early age while living in Wilson and later photography, developing black and whites in the family darkroom. Upon graduating from Hot Springs County High School in Thermopolis in 1981, Monte began his extraordinary career as an outdoorsman. He worked as a slope photographer at Teton Village during the winter which also gave him the opportunity to become an avid and often extreme skier. He was employed by his Uncle Dick Barker at Barker-Ewing on the Salmon River in Idaho.
These experiences led Monte to continue to advance his skills both as a fly fisherman and as a boatman. He spent several years on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and from there learned that new adventures were to be found in Patagonia. With the Baker, Biobio and the Futaleufu rivers to be fished and floated, Monte settled in Coyhaique, Chile. Monte's bio on River of Dreams said, "Monte is one of the most famous guides in Patagonia. He was the first guide with a boat and a trailer in Coyhaique." Some rivers, when he first started, had to be accessed via the ocean because there were no roads leading down to the river. He ended up building his own beautiful wooden drift boats, because none were available in Patagonia. They go on to say, "His rowing skills are famous worldwide, if you drop his name in a fly shop or a fishing bar, most will know him or of his reputation, which is larger than life."
Monte also discovered and married (1998) a lovely Chilean gal. Monte and Paola Zapata had two sons, Pascal in 2000 and Lucas in 2005. Monte taught them many of the skills he had, as well as watched them develop their own passions. For Pascal it was kayaking and for Lucas mountain biking. Monte loved being a father and there was always such pride in his voice whenever he spoke of their accomplishments. The boys have grown into capable and wonderful young men.
Monte and Paola started Patagonia Drifters and built their own lodge on the Rio Manihuales and hosted a great many family and friends as well as clients from around the world. After retiring the lodge, Monte said he was happy to go back to guiding for others, all the fun without the stress, and it renewed his passion. Always looking for a new adventure, Monte started alternating seasons between North and South America. He began guiding in Alaska during the summer months in North America and returned home to guide in Chile during their summers.
Monte is survived by his sons, Pascal (21) and Lucas (17), and their mother Paola Zapata, all of Coyhaique, Chile; father, Keith; and sister, Sonja Becker, of Thermopolis, Wyo.; and his brother, Karl (Kim) Becker of Duluth, Minn.
He was preceded in death by his mothers, Sally (Huckin) Becker (2011) and George Ann (Harris) Coffee (2022).
Cremation has taken place and his ashes will be scattered on his favorite places in Chile. No services are planned at this time.