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Fred Beckey

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Nationality  American
Name  Fred Beckey

Role  Rock climber
Fred Beckey patagoniatypepadcoma6a00d8341d07fd53ef017d3ff

Full Name  Friedrich Wolfgang Beckey
Born  14 January 1923 (age 92) (1923-01-14) Dusseldorf, Germany
Alma mater  University of Washington
Occupation  Rock climber, mountaineer, author
First ascents  Forbidden Peak, Devils Thumb, Mount Hunter, Goode Mountain, Mount Deborah, Davis Peak, Mount Beckey
Books  Fred Beckey's 100 Favo, Challenge of the North Cascades, Columbia River to Stevens, Range of glaciers, Cascade Alpine Guide: Cli
Similar People  Yvon Chouinard, Heinrich Harrer, Lynn Hill

Education  University of Washington

Fred beckey at the gunks fall 2007

Friedrich Wolfgang Beckey, known as Fred Beckey, (born 14 January 1923) is an American rock climber, mountaineer and author, who has made hundreds of first ascents, more than any other North American climber.


Fred Beckey Fred Beckey Slideshow Touchstone Climbing

The mountaineers films fred beckey early climbs

Early years

Fred Beckey Fred Beckey 100 Favorite North American Climbs The

Beckey was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, and his family emigrated to the United States in 1925, ending up in Seattle, Washington. He started climbing in the North Cascades as a teenager around age thirteen, learning the basic concepts from the Boy Scouts and later, The Mountaineers but quickly going on to harder climbs on his own. He managed to continue this focus on climbing for more than seventy years and has become an icon in North American mountaineering.

Fred Beckey Lake Tahoe Adventure Slide Show Series EarnYourTurns

He attended the University of Washington and received a degree in business administration. He entered the printing industry and soon discovered that his work assignments encroached upon his climbing goals. He eschewed the printing industry to gain more climbing time. He worked as a delivery truck driver, which left him time for climbing. As time went on, he decided that climbing was his life's focus. He never married or had children, he never pursued a professional career, he never sought money or financial security as a goal—his goal was to climb mountains.

Fred Beckey Fred Beckey Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Unlike Jim Whittaker, a fellow Seattleite and the first American to reach the top of Mount Everest in 1963, Beckey shied away from the large team efforts, preferring smaller alpine-style undertakings. Beckey seemed a likely choice as a member for the large, 1963 American Everest Expedition, but he was not chosen, even though he had been to Lhotse in 1955 with the International Himalayan Expedition.

Fred Beckey Fred Beckey Photos Diagrams amp Topos SummitPost

A documentary film on his life, Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, was released in 2017.

Guidebook author

In the late 1940s, he asked The Mountaineers of Seattle to publish his first climbing guidebook for the local peaks. They turned him down, and the American Alpine Club agreed to print a few thousand copies for a flat fee. Between climbs, he has written several books, most notably the Cascade Alpine Guide, the definitive 3-volume description of the Cascades from the Columbia River to the Fraser River, now in its third edition, published by The Mountaineers.

Recent accomplishments

In 2003, his 563-page book on the history of the region, Range of Glaciers, was published by the Oregon Historical Society Press. According to a reviewer, he did much of the research for the volume in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress and the National Archives, scouring files of the State Department, U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies. Beckey also perused the Canadian archives in Ottawa, Ontario; Hudson's Bay Co. archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba; British Columbia archives in Victoria, British Columbia; records of the Northwest Boundary Survey at Yale University; and records of the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads in Minneapolis.

As of June 2013, he continues to climb.

Mount Beckey, named for Beckey, is located in the Alaska Range at North 62 degrees, 52 minutes, West 152 degrees, 15 minutes.

First ascents

Some of his first ascents:

  • 1939 Mount Despair, North Cascades
  • 1940 Forbidden Peak, North Cascades - with brother Helmy, Lloyd Anderson, Jim Crooks, and Dave Lind.
  • 1945 Price Glacier, Mount Shuksan, North Cascades with Jack Schwabland and Bill Granston
  • 1946 East Ridge Devils Thumb, Alaska with Bob Craig and Clifford Schmidtke (Aug 25)
  • 1947 North Peak, Liberty Bell, North Cascades - 1947
  • 1948 North Ridge of Mount Baker, North Cascades Fred Beckey, Ralph and Dick Widrig (August 1948)
  • 1954 Northwest Buttress to North Peak, Mount McKinley, Alaska (May 27) with Donald McLean, Charles Wilson, Henry Meybohm and Bill Hackett.
  • 1954 Mount Deborah with Heinrich Harrer and Henry Meybohm
  • 1954 West Ridge Mount Hunter (Alaska) - with Heinrich Harrer and Henry Meybohm
  • 1959 Yocum Ridge, Mount Hood, Oregon, USA with Leo Scheiblehner
  • 1961 North Face of Mount Edith Cavell, Canadian Rockies, Canada with Yvon Chouinard and Dan Doody
  • 1961 Beckey-Chouinard Route on South Howser Tower, Bugaboos, Canada with Yvon Chouinard
  • 1963 Complete North Ridge, Mount Stuart, North Cascades, Washington, USA with Steve Marts
  • 1963 Northeast Buttress of Mount Slesse, British Columbia, Canada with Steve Marts and Eric Bjornstad
  • 1963 West Buttress (IV 5.8 A1), Musembeah Peak, Wind River Range, Wyoming, USA (September) with Layton Kor
  • 1967 El Matador (NCCS IV, A3), Devils Tower, WY. FA with Eric Bjornstad
  • 1968 Direct East Buttress (IV F8 A4), South Early Winter Spire, North Cascades, WA. FA with Doug Leen
  • 1968 South Face (III F8 A1), Cathedral Peak (Okanogan), North Cascades, WA. FA with Dave Wagner, John Brottem and Doug Leen
  • 1968 Northeast Face, Mount Hooker, Canadian Rockies, Canada. FA with John Rupley
  • 1970 Beckey's Spire aka Christianity Spire, Sedona AZ
  • 1996 Mount Beckey, Cathedral Mountains, Alaska, USA - 1996, with John Middendorf and Calvin Hebert
  • Other notable ascents

  • Second ascent Mount Waddington, British Columbia - 1942
  • Triple ascent of Denali, Mount Deborah, and Mount Hunter - 1954
  • Personality

    Timothy Egan captures Fred Beckey's personality in a chapter of The Good Rain. Beckey named Vasiliki Ridge, by Washington Pass, after his one true love. Beckey is a quintessential dirtbag climber, and there is a classic portrait of him holding a sign "Will belay for food." His reputation is well-known among many climbers, captured in a T-shirt "Beware of Beckey: He will Steal your woman, steal your route."


  • Fred Beckey's 100 Favorite North American Climbs (Patagonia Inc., 2011, ISBN 978-0-9801227-1-8)
  • Range of Glaciers: The Exploration and Survey of the Northern Cascade Range (Oregon Historical Society, 2003 ISBN 0-87595-243-7)
  • Cascade Alpine Guide (3 vols.) (Mountaineers Books, 1973–2008)
  • Columbia River to Stevens Pass (1973, 3rd ed. 2000, ISBN 0-89886-577-8)
  • Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass (1973, 3rd ed. 2003, ISBN 0-89886-152-7)
  • Rainy Pass to Fraser River (1981, 3rd ed. 2008, ISBN 0-89886-423-2)
  • Challenge of the North Cascades (1969, 2nd ed. 1996, ISBN 0-89886-479-8)
  • Mount McKinley: Icy Crown of North America (Mountaineers Books 1993, paper 1999, ISBN 0-89886-646-4)
  • The Bugaboos: An Alpine History (1987) (Introduction Only)
  • Mountains of North America (1986)
  • Mountains of North America (Sierra Club, 1982)
  • Darrington and Index Rock Climbing Guide (Mountaineers Books, 1976)
  • Guide to Leavenworth rock-climbing areas (Mountaineers Books, 1965)
  • Climber's Guide to the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington (American Alpine Club, 1949, revised edition 1953)
  • References

    Fred Beckey Wikipedia