Fred Beckey dies aged 94

US climbing legend Fred Beckey has died aged 94. Beckey was widely regarded as one of North America's greatest mountaineers, and perhaps the ultimate 'dirtbag', rejecting conventional security for a life devoted to climbing.

Legendary climber Fred Beckey  © Mick Ryan
Legendary climber Fred Beckey
© Mick Ryan

Taking up climbing as a teenager in the Cascade Range of America's Pacific Northwest, Beckey soon gained a reputation as a committed exploratory mountaineer, at a time when the potential of the Northwest was only beginning to be tapped.

"I was 13 when I climbed Boulder Peak in the Olympic Mountains by myself" he later recalled, "and I guess you can say that I never stopped climbing after that. For me, the appeal of climbing has many sources: a longing to escape from the artificial civilized order, a need for self-rejuvenation, a desire to restore my sense of proportion. When you are climbing, you experience freedom from constraints."

Fred Beckey, the legend.
© Patagonia Inc

In 1942, aged just 19, Beckey and his brother Helmy (17) made waves with the second ascent of Mount Waddington, in British Columbia's remote Coast Range. Over a climbing career spanning seven decades, he then went on to establish one of the most prolific first ascent records in the world. He also wrote several classic guides and other books.

Fred Beckey's life is the subject of the new film Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, showing at film festivals this year.

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31 Oct, 2017
Oh no! But it had to happen eventually. Incredible mountaineer.
31 Oct, 2017
RIP. 94 years old and planning another trip to the Himalaya next spring, just incredible.
31 Oct, 2017
[From the article.] “He devoted his life to advancing climbing and he succeeded,” says McCarthy. "He deserves to be venerated.” What an amazing life. Mick
31 Oct, 2017
Ah too bad, I wasn't familiar with his name until fairly recently when I saw a very good video about his life; it was amazing he was still so game.
31 Oct, 2017
Born in Germany in 1923! The world record holder for first ascents. What an inspiring life of total commitment to something he loved.
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