Fred Beckey is the original American “Dirtbag” climber whose name has evoked mystery, adulation and vitriol since the 1940s. Beckey’s stubborn, singular quest to conquer peaks meant a solitary life on the road, where he left a long trail of scorned climbing partners and lost lovers in his wake.

 

The groundbreaking life story of this rebel athlete, who inspired generations of climbers to head for the mountains with his monumental first ascents and eloquent books, is told for the first time in this exclusive documentary film.

 

Hailed as one of the most prolific, influential climbers of all time, Fred Beckey’s adventures began in Washington’s North Cascade range with his brother Helmy in the 1930s. In 1942, the Beckey brothers cemented their place in climbing lore when the teenagers survived an incredible second ascent of Mount Waddington––considered the most difficult climb in North America at the time. This success marked the

beginning of Fred’s epic tear of first ascents around the world, during which he became the consummate “Dirtbag” climber: defined as one who forgoes the pursuit of material comforts and defies societal norms

in order to pursue a nomadic mountaineering lifestyle.

 

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Fred’s accomplishments exceeded anyone in the sport. He shattered records with an unparalleled string of superhuman first ascents, bushwhacking trails and pioneering direct routes thought previously impassable. He eschewed fame, sponsors, family life and the politics of the sport so that his only obligation would remain conquering the next summit. Fred’s individualistic attitude led to him being passed over when the first American team was formed to summit Mount Everest in 1963, but the exclusion only drove Beckey to seek more summits, as he continues climbing to this day.

 

Still obsessed with the mountains and planning ambitious expeditions at age 94, the man who once bounded up granite and ice with graceful elegance and ease is now challenged with the simplicity of everyday life. Fred has slowed physically, but his zeal for the outdoors has not waned, and he is still steadfastly plotting new routes up undiscovered ranges for the next generation of climbers and explorers.

 

Throughout his exceptional life, Fred kept meticulous personal journals where he mused on everything from arcane geology to his dalliances with many beautiful women to the myriad sunrises he witnessed from vantages not seen by man before. An environmentalist before there was such a word, Fred used these journals as the basis for authoring 13 essential books that help connect aspiring climbers to the mountains.

 

Director Dave O’Leske spent the past decade filming Fred Beckey with unprecedented access, getting
to know the mythical man in the mountains of China, across North America and in his Pacific Northwest home.

 

O’Leske partnered with a crew of award-winning filmmakers––Producers Jason Reid, Andy McDonough and Colin Plank, Co-Producer Adam Brown, Exec. Producer Colin Baxter and Editor Darren Lund––whose past credits include the hit climbing documentary K2: SIREN OF THE HIMALAYAS (2012), the Webby Award-winning SONICSGATE: REQUIEM FOR A TEAM (2009), the Emmy® Award-winning MAN ZOU: BEIJING TO SHANGHAI (2010) and the narrative drama EDEN (2013), which won Audience Awards for Best Narrative at SXSW and the Milan International Film Festival.

 

Animations of Fred’s personal journals, guidebooks and photographs will combine with breathtaking aerial photography, motion graphics and rare archival footage to weave together the tapestry of this complex man’s life. More than 30 additional interviews with some of the world’s greatest climbers––including Yvon Chouinard, Layton Kor, Conrad Anker, Royal Robbins, Reinhold Messner and Jim Whittaker––attest to Fred Beckey’s legendary stature and iconic impact on the alpine world.

 

 

 

 

The Filmmakers Dave O’Leske - Director, Producer, Editor, Cinematographer - Dave spent the past decade filming the mythical Fred Beckey in the mountains of China, North America and in his Pacific Northwest home. Dave founded Through a Child's Eyes Productions in 1998 as an adventure, cultural and environmental digital video production company whose work has taken him around the world to tell unique stories. Dave’s work has included award-winning feature length documentaries, commercial videos and published still and fine art photography. His first documentary, SPIRIT OF SNOW (2002), won a Special Jury Award at Mountainfilm in Telluride and Best Short Documentary at the Golden Film Festival. Andy McDonough - Producer - Andy McDonough writes, produces and develops creative film and photography projects through his company, Roped In Productions, collaborating with 2R Productions and Lucid Visual Media on multiple feature projects including K2: SIREN OF THE HIMALAYAS (2012) and EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION (2013). Colin Plank - Producer - Colin worked for The Walt Disney Company in physical production and visual effects for several live action feature films. After leaving Disney, he produced several award-winning shorts and music videos and then formed his own production company, Centripetal Films. Colin most recently produced, EDEN (2013), which won the Audience Award for Best Narrative at the SXSW and Milan International Film Festivals. Jason Reid - Producer, Editor - Jason is the principal and founder of 2R Productions, where he is an award-winning editor, producer and director of independent documentaries, narrative shorts, music videos and commissioned corporate videos. He directed and produced the Emmy® Award-winning Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai (2010), the Webby Award-winning SONICSGATE: REQUIEM FOR A TEAM (2009) and Webby Honorees THE FINISH LINE (2014) and MR. IRRELEVANT (2014). He was also producer and editor on K2: SIREN OF THE HIMALAYAS (2012) and EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION (2013). He most recently directed and produced BACKFIRE: HOW TO DESTROY A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (2016) and THE ULTIMATE UPSET (2017) for ESPN Films / FiveThirtyEight. Adam Brown - Co-Producer, Music Supervisor, Media Director - As owner of Lucid Visual Media, Adam has worked to produce, shoot, edit and promote a large portfolio of music videos, commercials and documentaries including THE FINISH LINE (2014), MR. IRRELEVANT (2014), K2: SIREN OF THE HIMALAYAS (2012) and EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION (2013). Adam won a Webby Award as producer and co-creator of the documentary SONICSGATE: REQUIEM FOR A TEAM (2009). He most recently produced BACKFIRE: HOW TO DESTROY A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (2016) and THE ULTIMATE UPSET (2017) for ESPN Films / FiveThirtyEight. Darren Lund - Editor - Darren is an editor and cinematographer on many award-winning films including SONICSGATE: REQUIEM FOR A TEAM (2009), MAN ZOU: BEIJING TO SHANGHAI (2010), K2: SIREN OF THE HIMALAYAS (2012), EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION (2013), THE FINISH LINE (2014) and MR. IRRELEVANT (2014). In addition to editing documentaries, music videos, live concert films and commercials, Darren has also worked as a director and editor of live events on a weekly highlights show for FSN/ROOT Sports. He most recently edited BACKFIRE: HOW TO DESTROY A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (2016) and THE ULTIMATE UPSET (2017) for ESPN Films / FiveThirtyEight. Colin Baxter - Executive Producer - Colin is a creative guru who has executive produced many feature documentaries including SONICSGATE: REQUIEM FOR A TEAM (2009), K2: SIREN OF THE HIMALAYAS (2012) and EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION (2013). Jeff Wenger - Co-Producer, Cinematographer - Jeff and Dave O’Leske have teamed up all over the world on a variety of film projects including numerous short promotional films and the award winning documentary SPIRIT OF SNOW (2002) prior to collaborating on Fred Beckey's life story. Jeff has played an integral part in researching, documenting and, most importantly, climbing with Fred throughout the project. He climbed and filmed with Fred in China, Canada and the western part of the United States. Jeff works as the Academic Director at Bridges Academy in Bend, Oregon where he teaches Social Studies, Photojournalism and runs a climbing-focused outdoor program. Sandy Jeglum - Digital Media Producer - Sandy oversees digital media, content strategy and crowdfunding for the film. Sandy has managed three successful crowdfunding campaigns for CRAZYWISE (2014), CRAZYWISE (2015) and HEADHUNT REVISITED (2014) raising a total of $160K in online and offline donations. Jonathan Baab - Visual Artist Jon Garn - Graphic Artist Joe Garber & Carl Nelson - Animators
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