85 And Climbing

Legendary climber Fred Beckey shames you and everyone you know

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At 85, Fred Beckey climbs like a 30-year-old. Weathered old hands and a craggy face don’t hide any of those years, but his quick, graceful, and assured movements across the rock do, and he still possesses every ounce of the determination and skill that allowed him to rack up more first ascents than perhaps anyone ever.

Beckey began his climbing career in 1939, and he’s hardly slowed down since: He continues to put up grueling routes in the Cascades, Alaska Range, and the Sierras he favors, though he’s climbed all over the world. Climbers one-third his age are scrambling to join him on his next international trip, which will take him to Spain over the Christmas season, partially because he “hate(s) Christmas shopping.”

In this New York Times article, Beckey shares more than a few choice bits of wisdom from an old mountain man who’s outlasted most climbers from the generation after his:

To complete his personal life list, Beckey hopes to conquer tough routes on Longs Peak as well as Mt. Assiniboine and Mt. Monarch in Canada. And if he ever gives up climbing—don’t bet on it—he says he’ll take up “serious hiking.”

In that case, I guess we should all prepare to get passed on the trail by a 105-year-old man in the near future.

—Ted Alvarez

At 85, More Peaks to Conquer (NY Times)

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