January 10th, 2012
There are many stories of Fred Beckey, considered one of the most prolific alpinists of our time. He is constantly in motion from one climbing trip to the next, the quintessential “dirt bagger” and master of living cheaply. He is an icon in the mountaineering community.
Nearing 89 years of age, he has established first ascents across the globe and authored, among other books, the definitive climbing guide to the Cascades; three volumes essential to any Cascade climber’s library. And now, Patagonia Books published Fred Beckey’s “100 Favorite North American Climbs.”
A hybrid of coffee table and guide book, it is large format, with narrative and climbing route topographic maps. It is meant to inspire and, as I heard last night, imbue pride in climbers when they see Fred included their favorite route. I also understand it was hard getting him to whittle it down to 100 climbs!
My Fred stories are limited. I’ve gotten lost by misreading his sometimes vague route descriptions (like “trend up and right past the white block to the second corner and onto the ridge”). While working outdoor retail, I’ve accepted his well-worn down sleeping bag for washing. I’ve successfully avoided his propositions for climbing and ski trips, I think more out of fear than anything else, as I understand they are enriching experiences in and of themselves. But with no shortage of Beckey Tales, I’ve been able to appreciate his endeavors from the safety of the published word and the stories I’ve heard from many others.
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