Fred Beckey to be Awarded Rare AAC Gold Medal

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President's Gold Medal winner Fred Beckey. Photo courtesy American Alpine Club Archives.

12/19/14 - The American Alpine Club (AAC) has announced its 2015 award recipients. Every year the AAC recognizes outstanding achievements in conservation, climbing, and service to the climbing community. This year the Club will also bestow its rare President's Gold Medal to Fred Beckey.

“The President's Gold Medal is given very rarely—this is the fourth time it has been given in the Club's 113-year history—for extraordinary accomplishments in the climbing world,” said AAC President Mark Kroese. “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.”

The previous winners of the President's Gold Medal are:

>>Tom Frost and Dick Duane, for their tiereless efforts to protect Camp 4 in the late 90s.

>>Nick Clinch, for his decades of expedition leadership (notably the first ascents of Hidden Peak, Vinson, and Masherbrum) and even more decades of extraordinary leadership at the AAC.

>>Bill Putnam for his long term care and concern for climbing history and for representing America at the UIAA.

And now Fred. Climbing awarded Beckey with our own Golden Piton award for lifetime achievement in 2003. Read a summary of his accomplishments here, and read our interview with the legend from 2013.

Five other outstanding community members also will receive awards from the AAC: Kim Schmitz, Cody J. Smith, Ken Yager, Sasha Digiulian, and Jeff Lowe. All have displayed monumental drive, courage, and commitment in the mountains and in their lives.

The Robert and Miriam Underhill AwardGiven annually to that person who, in the opinion of the selection committee, has demonstrated the highest level of skill in the mountaineering arts and who, through the application of this skill, courage, and perseverance, has achieved outstanding success in various fields of mountaineering. This year's winner, Kim Schmitz (1979) For his early groundbreaking climbing achievement, most notably the first ascent of Uli Biaho Tower (19,957')-East Face-VII F8 A4 (34 pitches), one of the great walls of the Karakoram and an early use of Yosemite big-wall techniques in remote terrain.

The Angelo Heilprin CitationAwarded annually to that person who has, in the opinion of the citation committee, shown exemplary service to the Club. The purpose of this citation is to recognize those who have worked to maintain and strengthen the organization and thus further its ability to serve its fundamental purposes. Cody J. Smith for his long contributions to the Club and its efforts to develop lodging for climbers. He led the AAC's lodging program from two locations—the Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch and the Snowbird Hut—to five, which now include the Hueco Rock Ranch, the New River Gorge Campground, and the forthcoming Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground (The Gunks).

The David R. Brower AwardCreated in 1991, is an annual award recognizing leadership and commitment to preserving mountain regions worldwide. This year's awardee, Ken Yager, has shown dedication to the climbing environment exemplified by The Yosemite Facelift, which he has spearheaded for the past seven years.

The Robert Hicks Bates AwardCreated to recognize a young climber who—in the judgment of the selection committee—has demonstrated exceptional skill and character in the climbing or mountaineering arts and has outstanding promise for future accomplishment. Sasha Digiulian is an amazing young climber who has won overall female world champion, is a three-time U.S. National Champion, and was the first North American Woman to onsight 5.14a.

The Ad Carter Literary AwardEstablished to recognize excellence in alpine literature. This year's winner, Jeff Lowe is recognized for a life of contribution to climbing through the written word including his book The Ice Experience.

About the Annual Benefit Dinner The 2015 AAC Annual Benefit Dinner features a presentation by Reinhold Messner—"the greatest climber in history." In addition to Messner's keynote address, attendees will enjoy fine dining, beer and wine, live and silent auctions, and awards honoring climbing's luminaries and rising stars. All proceeds benefit AAC programs including youth climbing grants, conservation projects, and the launch of a new national climbing education initiative. Tickets are very limited. For more information and to reserve your spot, visit americanalpineclub.org/messner. Registration closes on January 20, or when sold out.