/ Fred Beckey
Awesome and humbling. 90 this year.
But remind me: is he a Patagonia Athlete or Ambassador?
Some of his first ascents:
1939 Mount Despair, North Cascades
1940 Forbidden Peak, North Cascades - with brother Helmy, Lloyd Anderson, Jim Crooks, and Dave Lind.
1945 Price Glacier, Mount Shuksan, North Cascades with Jack Schwabland and Bill Granston:138
1946 East Ridge Devils Thumb, Alaska with Bob Craig and Clifford Schmidtke (Aug 25):
1947 North Peak, Liberty Bell, North Cascades - 1947
1948 North Ridge of Mount Baker, North Cascades Fred Beckey, Ralph and Dick Widrig (August 1948):156
1954 Northwest Buttress to North Peak, Mount McKinley, Alaska (May 27) with Donald McLean, Charles Wilson, Henry Meybohm and Bill Hackett.:166
1954 Mount Deborah with Heinrich Harrer and Henry Meybohm:169–170
1954 West Ridge Mount Hunter (Alaska) - with Heinrich Harrer and Henry Meybohm:170
1959 Yocum Ridge, Mount Hood, Oregon, USA with Leo Scheiblehner:172
1961 North Face of Mount Edith Cavell, Canadian Rockies, Canada with Yvon Chouinard
1961 Beckey-Chouinard Route on South Howser Tower, Bugaboos, Canada with Yvon Chouinard and Dan Doody :152–153
1963 Complete North Ridge, Mount Stuart, North Cascades, Washington, USA with Steve Marts:226
1963 Northeast Buttress of Mount Slesse, British Columbia, Canada with Steve Marts and Eric Bjornstad:226–227
1963 West Buttress (IV 5.8 A1), Musembeah Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming, USA (September) with Layton Kor:245
1967 El Matador (NCCS IV, A3), Devils Tower, WY. FA with Eric Bjornstad:403
1968 Direct East Buttress (IV F8 A4), South Early Winter Spire, North Cascades, WA. FA with Doug Leen:287–288
1968 South Face (III F8 A1), Cathedral Peak (Okanogan), North Cascades, WA. FA with Dave Wagner, John Brottem and Doug Leen:390
1968 Northeast Face, Mount Hooker, Canadian Rockies, Canada. FA with John Rupley:410
1970 Beckey's Spire aka Christianity Spire, Sedona AZ
1996 Mount Beckey, Cathedral Mountains, Alaska, USA - 1996, with John Middendorf and Calvin Hebert
Look at him go. Great film.
Fred's hands: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=207503
and Fred: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=207499
His book is fantastic.
An absolutely astonishing mountaineer -
His three volume (these are quite large books!) guide to the cascades in the NW of the USA is absolutely loaded with his first ascents in the area. Many of these were done when approaches were substantially longer than they are today and where the approach itself is an expedition.
The linked video doesn't even come close to his productivity - 10 times more than Chris Sharma! Chris Sharma is barely qualified to carry Beckey's sandwiches!
I was very fortunate to meet him briefly, last year, in Banff. He came across as a very warm, enthusiastic guy, still brimming with life.
Fantastic short clip. A perfect example of growing old and staying young. Something for us all to aspire to.
> I was very fortunate to meet him briefly, last year, in Banff. He came across as a very warm, enthusiastic guy, still brimming with life.
When I saw him last year I thought, shit, I hope he makes it to the end of the slide show. But as soon as he opened his mouth, wow, machine gun delivery, encyclopedic recall, just a wee bit deaf.
But am I the only one to have heard stories (from American climbers) that Fred was more than a touch Aberdonian in his approach to monetary outlays?
He was a proper dirtbag for much of his life, sleeping on peoples' couches and thumbing around the place. People like that tend to be somewhat strapped.
> But am I the only one to have heard stories (from American climbers) that Fred was more than a touch Aberdonian in his approach to monetary outlays?
Cameron Burns did a feature on him in that glossy mag that replaced Mountain in the early 90s (I forget it's name). FB's character was portayed as being less than perfect, (like the rest of us), but afterwards Burns got a lot of flak from various writers who knew FB well.
Anyway from a climbing perspective FB is possibly out there on his own.
Mountain Review 3 (August '93)
Excellent and pretty comprehensive article.
Fred is a quintessential dirtbag climber, and there is a classic portrait of him holding a sign
"Will belay for food."
His reputation is well-known among many climbers, captured in a t-shirt
"Beware of Beckey: He will Steal your woman, steal your route."
> "Will belay for food."
It's not just age, which is already very advanced. I'd guess the chances are good that Becky has more mileage on his body than any other climber ever, and that's part of what's weighing him down. And that mileage isn't just a whole lot of cragging as someone might acquire in the UK, nor does it involve the telepherique and hut-enabled mountaineering of the Alps. Becky has endured many years of some of the most arduous approaches in any mountain range anywhere, in addition to the more usual types of climbing punishment.
In any case, I have to say that my reaction is almost the opposite of BnB's. Here's a guy who has reached a point where he can barely walk uphill any more, and yet the sheer love of climbing, regardless of physical infirmity, propels him onward in spite of all the messages his body must be sending that it is really past time to start taking it easy.
Has anyone ever seen a more poignant expression of enthusiasm for the activity itself from an individual now fully removed from the worldly trappings of competitive difficulty and first ascents? Becky is running on the fumes of a lifetime love affair with climbing. You don't know whether to cheer or cry when you seem him ever so slowly making his way up the trail, a lifetime of passion colliding with the inevitable frailty of the human condition. That choir of angels, which will soon enough be the real and final one, is fully-deserved, and there is little harm if those of us who are trailing way behind him, those of us who will never come close to catching up, add a few notes of appreciation to the heavenly chorus.
Nicely put. I think the attitude to Beckey is much more often "I wish I had the guts to do that" than it is "dammit, he took advantage of me". In fact people seem to wear the "Beckey took advantage of me" as a badge of honour, a source of pride, as in "hey, look at me, Beckey took advantage of me!".
And it's been that way for well over 50 years.
Personally, I'm totally in awe of his energy, his routes and his overall knowledge, as exemplified in his books.
(I was actually expecting to criticised for my non-PC use of the "Aberdonian" stereotype.)
A superb post - and a dilemma which awaits many of us.
...and that Anne Frank she got a good book deal out of that diary business.
Please divorce my criticism of the film from any suggestion that I might be impugning your hero. I'm sure Mr B would grin and tell you he was thrilled to visit the Dolomites, but so much the better for paying paid to do so!!
I respectfully disagree with this point. Indeed I think quite the reverse is true. We are not like cars that wear out with (ab)use, we adapt to stimulus. It is surely not a coincidence that this climber with a huge mileage is still active at this age. The years of arduous activity are precisely what has kept him physiologically young (and psychologically young too - the spirit or psyche also adapt to circumstances).
Good luck to Fred and well done for becoming a poster-boy. Patagonia know their market!
But leaving that aside what really made me pause was asking myself what will I be like at that age? I think I will be chuffed to get out on the crag and have someone take me up a vdiff. It also made me think that somebody will have to sacrifice there own time to do that and turning it around I wondered what I would do today if I encountered a veteran who wanted to do something similar. Would I give up an afternoon from my own plans to do something 'milder'? I hope I wouldn't be a selfish git but I don't know.
Walking to a crag and climbing at 90? I reckon he's doing pretty well by most standards.
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