In a complete 180 from my last post, I recently posted a photo of a tattoo I got to commemorate one of my all-time heroes and it blew up (by my standards.)
As is typical of me: I decided I wanted it, drove to a shop in downtown Bellingham, asked for a price quote, didn’t feel the vibe I wanted from the artist, left, found another shop and sat down, arm outstretched less than a half hour later.
Now, I have Fred Beckey’s name permanently etched on my arm. #noragrets
The reaction I’ve gotten has been funny to me. There’s been a lot of, “Ok…” in my personal life. And a few, “F&CK YEAHs!” The people who get it, yeah, those are my people. Obviously, I got it for myself first and foremost and I’ll explain why:
Fred Beckey never sent 5.14. I don’t even know if he climbed 5.12. And he certainly wasn’t a saint, he had an affinity for women (lots of them) and a bit of kleptomania for virgin routes.
But, Fred Beckey climbed for nearly 80 years.
Fred Beckey was the guy to establish countless NW classics: Angels Crest in Squamish comes to mind, the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell, the West Ridge of Forbidden, the Beckey-Chouinard route on South Howser Tower.
He established so many first ascents that he lost count.
He never sought fame or the limelight. He just sought climbing. A whole hell of a lot of it.
And the more I tell people this, the more I realize it means to me: Fred Beckey pioneered countless new routes, spent an absurd time in the mountains and he always came home.
Fred Beckey is my hero because of his relentless dedication to climbing. Besides opening a whole lot of stunning routes to the climbing community of the Northwest, he gave back to all of us in the form of guidebooks. That’s no small undertaking.
I had the idea for this tattoo a year ago while I was on a climbing trip in Mexico. I was hanging out with my friend Carey climbing beautiful bolted multi-pitch lines in Potrero Chico — pretty far removed from a lot of the classic Beckey lines, but pretty awesome nonetheless.
When Fred Beckey passed recently, I knew that now was the time to pull the trigger on this idea. I’m so glad that I did.
So, thanks Fred. I’m looking forward to the wisdom I’ll draw from your name permanently on my arm in the climbs to come. Hope you’re sending new routes in Heaven.