Home > News

Climbing Legend Fred Beckey Dies at 94

Fred Beckey was one of the greatest climbers of all time, he’s died at age 94 in Seattle. A friend close to Beckey announced the news on social media.

Known for his remote and bold first ascents, visionary lines and for being one of the toughest partners a climber could have, Beckey touched the hearts of many and inspired generations of climbers.

Fred Beckey

In Canada, he climbed many new routes, including the North Face of Edith Cavell, The Beckey/Chouinard on South Howser Tower and the Northeast Buttress of Slesse. In Squamish he opened many of the now classic rock routes.

One of his earliest first ascent was in 1939 up Mount Despair in the North Cascades in Washington.

Beckey was born in Germany in 1923. His family emigrated to the U.S.A in 1925 and ended up in Seattle. He started climbing at around age 13.

He went to the University of Washington and had a degree in business administration. He wrote a number of books, many likely sit on your bookshelf. He was never married and never had children.

In 1942, Beckey and his brother Helmy made the second ascent of Mount Waddington on Canada’s West Coast. It was considered one of the finer alpine achievements of the time. It was the start of Beckey’s amazing climbing career.

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

Top alpinist Conrad Anker once said of Beckey, “In the pantheon of climbing legends, he’s the man. He never got the big, famous peaks, he never did Everest. But just that unrelenting drive to do new routes—that’s what puts him on top in my book.”

Beckey was one of our heroes at Gripped and we’ll miss seeing him around.