The first time I met Fred Beckey he was sleeping on the carpeted floor of the house I was staying at. He’d been offered a bed, but refused. “This is all I need right here,” he yelled, as Fred does so he can hear himself. “You want a pillow Fred?” I asked. “What?!” he shouted. “Do you want a pillow?” I yelled back, this time making sure he could hear me.
“Nah it’s good like this,” he said, crumpling up his down jacket into a ball and sliding it under his head.
Creature comforts are not really part of Mr. Beckey’s daily life. When you’ve slept hundreds of night atop bare rock, shivering in just the clothes on your body, waiting out the storm so you can bag the summit on yet another first ascent, you’re not accustomed to a bed. All you care about is what’s ahead.
I ran into Mr. Beckey himself this past weekend at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. He was sitting at the Patagonia booth, carefully signing the inside cover of his incredible new book, Fred Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs. This book is heavy, it’s big and it’s a huge part of modern mountaineering history.
There was a small line of people who bought his book and were waiting for Fred to put his stamp on the inside, many of them have likely climbed with him or have most certainly heard of the legend themself. They gave up trying to tell him who to dedicate the book to, and instead wrote it down on a piece of paper. Fred signed each book carefully and handed them over with a measured smile of pride. And although his hearing is long gone, the passion for mountains isn’t. You can see it clearly in his eyes.
Published by Patagonia books, 100 Favorite North American Climbs is Fred Beckey’s magnum opus. Over a span of 70 years, Fred has made more first ascents than any other North American climber and has written the definitive guides to climbing in the Cascades. In this book, Fred offers up his characteristic mix of route tips, natural history and climbing lore for his 100 favorite climbs (with honorable mentions of a few more). With an excellent introduction by Barry Blanchard.