|A few notes about:
Climbing with a living legend - Fred Beckey
|By: Ammon McNeely|
|His hands and fingers are gnarled from using them to ascend stone over the last eight decades.
His leather-like skin is tough from the wind, sun and exposed elements that has payed it's toll throughout his life.
His face has deep lines like couloirs. Wispy gray hair blew in the Tuolumne breeze. His eyes are deep with wisdom and sparkled with enthusiasm for life.
I was honored to be roped up with one of rock climbing's most well-known legends, Fred Beckey. Fred roped up for his first FA in the 30's. He has done more for the climbing community than I could possibly put in words.
I watched as Fred's eighty-one year old body pinched, pulled and stepped his way up the knobby classic on Lembert Dome.
This five pitch 5.9 route called "Cry in Time Again" was taxing for most youthful climbers. I couldn't imagine how Fred was sending it.
Having had to bail from the same route the previous season, Fred was determined to complete his unfinished business.
|Prior to the climb we offered him beta and a peek in the Tuolumn guide book. Instead he pulled out a wad of hand drawn topos and beta written from climbers he had talked to personally, about the climb.
Now he sits at each belay writing up his own topos and putting little notes that he can share if someone ever asks him information on the climb. He explained.
This is how it used to be done. If you wanted beta for a route, you had to talk to someone who has climbed it.
We were a party of five intent on two objectives. Having fun and getting Fred to the top. Patients and encouragement were the two ingredients that was necessary if we were to succeed.
Everyone did their part and the climb proceeded without a glitch.
Fred turned to us halfway up the route and said, "?Man, I learn something new every day. I didn't think it was possible to climb in a party of five."
As I sat on the summit I watched Fred traverse towards me, and then sit by my side.
|I saw tears of joy swelling in his eyes. A few moments passed and I could clearly see he was trying to control his absolute ecstatic emotion. He turned to me and said "What are we gonna climb tomorrow?"
I smiled at Fred. "I don't know, Fred. Let's go back to camp and pull out your old topos." As I looked into his eyes I didn't see anything but pure excitement and love for what he has dedicated his enitre life to...... climbing.
(Special THANKS goes out to Karen, Adam & Glenn for sharing this day with us)
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