Climbing Community Remembers Mountaineering Legend Fred Beckey

Climbing Community Remembers Mountaineering Legend Fred Beckey

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

Climbing Community Remembers Mountaineering Legend Fred Beckey
Fred Beckey; photo by Dave O Leske

Beckey left behind a legacy of ascents that inspired generations of climbers. Pick up any guidebook on mountains or crags in the American West, and you’re likely to see Fred Beckey’s name among first ascents, or emblazoned across the cover.

News of Beckey’s death spread rapidly across social media. At 94 years old, he still climbed actively. During more than seven decades of climbing, his work included several classic guidebooks 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 took up climbing with a passion. At 15 years old, he climbed the first ascent of Sinister Peak with REI co-founder and Mountaineers climb leader Lloyd Anderson.

And it seems he never slowed down. He pioneered literally hundreds of routes. Dedicating his life to climbing, he often lived out of the trunk of his car while traveling the roads of the United States and Canada. Also renowned as the “Original Dirtbag,” Beckey is the subject of a forthcoming movie. See the trailer below.

Climbers React

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

Steve House (Via Facebook)

— Ahhhh Fred…Great memories of bumping into you climbing in Alaska, Washington, BC, and Alberta. You lived well. Respect!

The Clymb (Via Facebook)

— It’s with heavy hearts that we report the passing of Fred Beckey. The climbing world has lost one of the greatest dirtbag legends it’s ever known today. Your ways and wisdom will be missed.

Nina Williams (Via Facebook)

— Damn. Just heard that Fred Beckey has passed away. Sad news, but he certainly lived life with 100% passion. Fred’s dedication to climbing was rivaled by few… if any. He pursued the lifestyle for 94 years, contributing hundreds of first ascents and always looking towards the next horizon. I’ve always said I want to climb my whole life; if I can do a fraction of what Fred accomplished, I will be satisfied. RIP you legend.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.