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Once a Climber, Always a Climber: Fred Beckey Turns 90 and Is Still Getting After It

On Monday, January 14, Fred Beckey, an icon in the climbing world, turned 90 years old. Less than 2 weeks earlier, Fred reached the top of Moosedog Tower in Joshua Tree National Park via a 3-pitch, 5.6 route called Tranquility (read about the climb here).

If you’re a climber, then there’s a good chance you’ve climbed one of Fred Beckey’s routes. That’s because he has likely made more first ascents of more peaks and routes in North America (and quite possibly the entire world) than anyone ever has, or ever will.

Sure, he’s slowed a bit over the years and isn’t ticking off first ascents like he once was, but his mind is sharp and his love of climbing mountains is unwavering.

About 3 years ago, I went to a slideshow given by Fred and hosted by a local outdoor shop. Fred shared slide after slide, entertaining the audience with detailed stories from a Alaska trip 4 or 5 decades ago.

After wrapping up the presentation and answering a few questions, Fred began talking gear with the store staff and haggling to have his backcountry skis tuned, which he planned to use the very next day. A classic move by a climbing legend.

Fred is not only famous for his first ascents, but also for his books. He’s the author of several histories and essential guidebooks. Take a look at Fred Beckey’s Cascade Alpine Guide books at and watch this New York Times video from 2008:

Happy birthday, Fred. Here’s to many more years of climbing adventures.

Fred Beckey photo courtesy of The Mountaineers Books.


Posted on at 4:30 PM

Tagged: Climbing, Fred Beckey, Rock Climbing and mountaineering

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