Climbing community remembers mountaineering legend Fred Beckey

Fred Beckey, a prolific mountaineer, author and North American mountaineer, died Monday at age 94. He left behind hundreds of first ascents and legions of admirers among the climbing community.

Climbing community remembers mountaineering legend Fred Beckey
Fred Beckey; photo by Dave O Leske

Beckey left a legacy of climbs which has inspired generations of mountaineers. Get any guide to the mountains or cliffs of the American West and you’ll probably see Fred Beckey’s name among the first ascents or on the cover.

News of Beckey’s death quickly spread on social media. At 94, he is still actively climbing. Over seven decades of climbing, his work included several classic guides and literally hundreds of first ascents.

Beckey was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1923. His family immigrated to the United States when he was 2 years old and settled in Seattle.

There, he embarked on climbing with passion. At age 15, he climbed the first ascent of Sinister Peak with Lloyd Anderson, co-founder of REI and leader of the ascent of mountaineers.

And it seems like he never slowed down. He pioneered literally hundreds of routes. Devoting his life to rock climbing, he often lived out of the trunk of his car, hitting the roads of the United States and Canada. Also known as the “Original Dirtbag”, Beckey is the subject of an upcoming film. See the trailer below.


The climbers react

On social media, well-known climbers and weekend warriors reacted to Beckey’s passing.

Steve House (via Facebook)

– Ahhhh Fred… Good memories of meeting you climbing in Alaska, Washington, British Columbia and Alberta. You lived well. The respect!

The Clymb (via Facebook)

— It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Fred Beckey. The climbing world has lost one of the greatest dirtbag legends it has ever known today. We will miss your ways and your wisdom.

Nina Williams (via Facebook)

– Slim. I just learned that Fred Beckey passed away. Sad news, but he certainly lived his life with 100% passion. Fred’s dedication to climbing was matched by few…if any. He continued the lifestyle for 94 years, contributing hundreds of first ascents and always looking to the next horizon. I’ve always said that I wanted to climb all my life; if I can do a fraction of what Fred accomplished, I’ll be satisfied. RIP your caption.