Thursday, February 12, 2015

Washingtonian of the Day: Fred Beckey

Above: Washington State Governor Jay Inslee waits to speak as an enthusiastic crowd gives legendary climber Fred Beckey,92, a standing ovation on Wednesday night at The Evergreen State College. Beckey gave a detailed, lively narration of his 100 Favorite North American Climbs, met with admirers and signed books until 10:00 p.m.

By Janine Unsoeld

Legendary Northwest climber Fred Beckey, 92, commanded the attention of an appreciative crowd who gave him a standing ovation on Wednesday night at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.
Governor Jay Inslee took time to not only award Beckey a certificate declaring Beckey “Washingtonian of the Day,” but stayed to listen to Beckey’s lively narration of a multi-media presentation based on his book, 100 Favorite North American Climbs. Inslee said he could not stay away when he heard Beckey would be speaking in Olympia.
“Washington State is a pretty special place – we’ve got Mt. Rainier, we’ve got Mt. Baker, the Space Needle, Boeing, and Fred Beckey…. He opens people’s ambitions and vision about the heights of our State,” said Inslee.
For his part, Beckey said that his program was more than just about his favorite climbs, “…but to show the pageantry of Western America and that these mountains are not just for recreation, but for wild resources and all our environmental needs….We need to protect them….”
Beckey recently returned from the American Alpine Club’s (AAC) annual meeting in New York City, where he received the AAC’s President’s Gold Medal, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in conservation, climbing, and service to the climbing community. Beckey is only the fourth person in 113 years to receive this honor.
“Fred Beckey is being recognized this year for a lifelong devotion to climbing and first ascents that is unmatched over generations. Fred has put climbing in front of virtually everything else in his life. We honor both his dedication to the craft and the thousands of routes he has left for us all to enjoy,” said AAC President Mark Kroese.
Ever active, Beckey also attended a Seattle event with Reinhold Messner in Seattle last week.
In Olympia, Steve Jones, a friend of Beckey’s, introduced Beckey by telling stories, and received laughs by saying Beckey invented the climber’s lifestyle before there was a climbing lifestyle.

Beckey did not disappoint as he told many stories during a slide show sprinkled with brief movie clips of his climbs.

Beckey tirelessly stayed until 10:00 p.m. to sign books and speak with admirers, including the coordinators of Evergreen’s Outdoor Program, which sponsored the event. The Outdoor Program (TOP) educates students in climbing basics, kayaking, backpacking and other outdoor activities.
The Olympia Mountaineers, the Warehouse Rock Gym and Mountaineers Meetup groups were also instrumental in spreading word of the event as far as Seattle and Portland.
Above: Fred Beckey, in red, chats with Washington State Governor Jay Inslee before giving a presentation on Wednesday night at The Evergreen State College.