The New York Times reports on Fred Beckey - 85 years old and going strong.
SEATTLE — He had been called a vagabond, a recluse and a schemer, a cantankerous mountain man hiding his little black book of secret climbing techniques from the world. In seven decades, he had claimed more virgin ascents than any mountaineer alive. Some ascribed his feats to vengeance of a long-ago slight, others to the murder of his own fears. He was said to howl at tourists. His past was the stuff of lore, his plans the stuff of mystery.
Then, this fall, word of his next expedition spread among the worldwide network of contacts whose telephone numbers he kept scribbled on notecards wrapped with rubber bands in the gearbox pocket of his station wagon. The plan was announced in disarmingly casual fashion.
“Hi everyone, Fred Beckey called yesterday and he is going to northern Spain in early to mid-December,” began one posting this autumn at an online rock climbing forum. “Might be a long shot, but he’s looking for a partner to hook up with in Barcelona.”
Quoting Fred himself:
“You’ve got to be physically pretty strong to be any good at it at all,” Beckey said. “You’ve got to have a hard-core mental attitude. You’ve got to have the right mantra. You’ve got to have dedication, a sense of security, safety and sensitivity with your partners, and a good sense of balance. It’s a combination of many, many things. You need to have the capability or desire to accept a certain amount of risk. A lot of it is maybe spiritual, not a religious type, but you have to have an affinity with the outdoors.”
I'll follow his exploits with interest.