Dick Bass, a poetry-spouting Texas oilman who was the first climber to scale the highest peak on each of the seven continents and for a time was the oldest to top Mount Everest, has died. He was 85.

Bass died Sunday at his home in Dallas. He had pulmonary fibrosis, according to a statement from Snowbird, the Utah ski resort he started in 1971 and owned until 2014.

At various times in his career, he also was a part-owner of ski areas in Vail and Aspen. He owned ranches in Texas and coal mines in Alaska. He grew up around the oil fields of Oklahoma, where his father, Harry W. Bass, developed portable drilling rigs and became one of the largest natural-gas processors in the U.S.

“I chose my father very carefully,” Bass later said. “He gave me the perfect launching pad.”

Often described as a larger-than-life character, Bass blended relentless enthusiasm and profound optimism with operatic intentions and raw guts.

“He is an honest, likable man haunted by a need to keep proving himself,” the Boston Globe said in 2000. “He will bring himself to tears talking about the value of integrity and the gift of life.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, David Breashears, one of the world’s top climbers and the first American to ascend Everest twice, described Bass as “a poet, a visionary and a mountaineer with the heart of a lion.”

An active skier and tennis player, Bass never trained for his grueling climbs.

“I was befuddled by his astonishing ability to perform at high altitude,” said Breashears, who accompanied Bass at Everest. “I had to tell myself I wasn’t imagining it. It made no sense to me.”

Bass, who said he “never planned to climb anything, except out of bed in the morning,” was 51 when he started his record-setting expeditions. He was 55 when he bagged Everest on April 30, 1985, having already climbed Aconcagua, in South America; Denali, in Alaska; Elbrus, in Russia; Kilimanjaro, in Africa; Kosciuszko, in Australia; and Vinson Massif, in Antarctica.

Richard Bass was born in Tulsa, Okla., on Dec. 21, 1929.

He studied geology at Yale and did graduate work in petroleum engineering at the University of Texas. He served on a Navy aircraft carrier during the Korean War and had his first taste of climbing – though he always called himself “a high-altitude trekker” rather than a climber – at Mount Fuji in Japan.

In 1962, Bass was among the original investors in Vail. He and his brother Harry Jr. later developed the nearby Beaver Creek ski resort.

Developing Snowbird, he came close to bankruptcy a number of times. After an around-the-world trip with his adult children, he realized that “I had really been hammered down – by bankers, by competitors, by environmental groups, by people with their hands in the cookie jar. Plus, I had a divorce thrown in there too.”

Physical achievement – whether on mountains, or running the original marathon route laid out by the ancient courier Phidippides, or swimming the Hellespont a la Lord Byron – was an antidote.

“Nobody thwarted me as I struggled up the mountainside,” he wrote. “I had definite goals and I realized a tangible sense of accomplishment.”

Over the years, Bass encountered his share of critics. In his popular book “Into Thin Air,” author Jon Krakauer dismissively described Bass as a wealthy Texan who was “ushered to the top of Everest.”

“Previously, Everest had by and large been the province of elite mountaineers,” Krakauer wrote. “Bass’ ascent changed all that.”

Phil Powers, a mountaineer who is chief executive of the American Alpine Club, said Bass’ well-publicized pursuit of the seven summits “launched a whole new world of adventure travel and a whole new business channel for guides.”

He said the quest had a healthy ripple effect on people who weren’t about to brave Antarctica but might be inspired to take a weekend hike.

Bass was blunter about his critics.

“They resent some 55-year-old yahoo from Texas climbing these mountains they’d dreamed about. When I see guides now, they hug me because the seven summits made the mountain-guiding profession. It made them!”

According to one widely circulated story, Bass was on a cross-country flight when, in his loquacious way, he deluged his seatmate for hours with details of his treks on all seven continents. As they were about to land, he realized he hadn’t paused to ask his new friend anything about himself, his job, or even his name.

“That’s OK,” the man responded, extending his hand. “I’m Neil Armstrong.”