Fred Beckey

by John Rupley

Fred is an elemental force. For over 60 years he creatively searched for and made new routes and first ascents - more than any other American and probably more than any other individual in history. He has spawned a small industry that writes about him - 1500 hits on Google. Fred taught me about alpine climbing when I went to Seattle for graduate study. His ability to move rapidly over difficult terrain was awesome. He understands weather and mountain conditions better than anyone I have known. I was fortunate to climb with Fred frequently for five years and occasionally for another fifteen. His intelligent sensitivity, not often spoken of, is evident in his writing. Fred's mixture of tenacity and boldness tempered by caution and backed by experience, has led to his great success and his survival.

Fred Beckey on the summit of Mt. Forresta

Fred Becky, age 56, on the summit of Mt. Forresta, Alaska, 1979. The sea is in the background, 10,000 feet below. A few hours later, one could see the lights of Yakutat, just off the picture right. Fred was wet and cold, owing to a fall into a crevasse; he was later to be colder, during a bivouac necessitated by an avalanche on the descent.

Ila added an additional comment in an e-mail: "Fred's fall into the Mt. Forresta crevasse was complicated by heavy snow which fell with him and packed around him. He couldn't move, so a climber had to go down to dig him out. That took time, causing Fred to become deeply chilled."

Fred Beckey in Tucson, 2000
Fred Becky, age 77, at the Rupley home, Tucson, 2000.

Copyright ©: 2002, John and Ila Rupley
Revised: March 2, 2002