The List: 13 Awesome, Famous Beards

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You think John Muir's thinking new ways to describe Sierra light? No, he's thinking how awesome his beard is.

You think John Muir’s thinking new ways to describe Sierra light? No, he’s thinking how awesome his beard is.

Beards: So hot right now, but so classic. Let’s face it, when mustaches finish out their tenure as the cool/ironic/maybe-not-so-ironic thing to wear on your face, beards will live on in the wilderness. Here are some of our favorites throughout beard history.


Mountaineering: Reinhold Messner
beard messnerFamous for: First ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen; first ascent of all 14 8,000-meter peaks, arguably greatest all-around climber in history.
Honorable Mention: Sir Chris Bonington


Climbing: Royal Robbins
beard robbinsFamous for: Pioneering big-wall climbing in Yosemite in the 1950s and 1960s; first ascent of the Direct NW Face of Half Dome, Salathe Wall, The Prow on Washington Column.
Honorable Mention: Jim Bridwell’s mustache (not a beard)


Outdoor writing: Ernest Hemingway
beard hemingFamous for: “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games,” skiing, fishing, Old Man and the Sea, Snows of Kilimanjaro.
Honorable Mention: John Krakauer


Hiking: Colin Fletcher
beard colinFamous for: Writing The Complete Walker; called “the godfather of backpacking,” often credited with starting the backpacking industry; walked the length of Grand Canyon National Park in 1963.
Honorable Mention: Gandalf


Surfing: Keith Malloy
beard malloyFamous for: Appearing in 1 gazillion surf magazine and surf films; 180 South; ditching competition surfing to free surf and big wave riding.
Honorable Mention: Dan Malloy, Chris Del Moro


Paddling: John Wesley Powell
beard jwpFamous for: Leading the expedition team on the first descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in a wooden boat in 1869; having Lake Powell named after him.


Bicycling: Sheldon Brown
beard sheldonFamous for: www.sheldonbrown.com; encyclopedic knowledge of every component in the history of bicycles and mastery of how to maintain and repair those components.
Honorable Mention: The Wizard


beard anselPhotography: Ansel Adams
Famous for: Most of the incredible black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West you’ve ever seen and said “Wow, I need to go wherever that is”; also the 230,000-acre wilderness in California that bears his name.
Honorable mention: Vittorio Sella


General Outdoors: John Muir
beard muirFamous For: Activism, founding of Sierra Club, having the John Muir Trail named after him; exaltation of wilderness in his voluminous body of writing.
Honorable Mention: Red Green


Exploration: Marco Polo
01x/21/Diry/15103/08Famous for: Traveling throughout Asia; introducing Europeans to central Asia through his writing; inspiring Christopher Columbus; contemporary game played by children in swimming pools
Honorable Mention: Francisco Pizarro


Piracy: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach
beard blackbeardFamous for: 17th- and 18th-century plundering in Europe and the eastern United States; fearsome appearance once described as “such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from hell to look more frightful”; black beard
Runner-Up: Hayreddin “Redbeard” Barbarossa


Goating: Mountain Goat
beard goatFamous for: Climbing skills on steep rock and ice at high altitude; penchant for salt in human urine
Honorable Mention: Regular Goat


Space exploration: Chewbacca
beard chewyFamous for: Ballsy co-command (along with Han Solo) of spaceship Millennium Falcon; stoic, almost non-communicative presence; heroic transformation from smuggler to upstanding member of Rebel Alliance
Honorable Mention: William Riker, Star Trek: The Next Generation

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