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Beckey was a star among his own kind. Working with a treasure trove of archival material – films and photographs – as well as new footage of his own, director O’Leske gives us the man and the legend, both, in this comprehensive portrait of a dirtbag unlike any other.



An intriguing insight into a way of life taken to the extreme, and it's a well crafted film that will doubtless appeal to up and coming climbers clean to follow in the dirtbag's footsteps.



... A treasure trove from Beckey's heyday, comprising photographs, diaries and, best of all, annotated mountain illustrations... The elderly Beckey refuses to compromise his lifestyle, remaining an incorrigible rogue by all accounts, and continues making increasingly quixotic summit attempts despite vastly reduced physical abilities. His moving determination not to give up life's obsession divides those around him... there can be little doubt that the legend is just beginning.



A quite humbling film: hilarious, emotional and very watchable. Beckey was one of the last of a dying breed. An explorer of new ground. A man whose legacy to the mountains deserves our attention.

07.12.2018 – MOVIE REVIEW: BLOG DE ESCALADA (translated from Spanish)


The production to its end materializes and consecrates like a classic. It is easy to see that, in an overpowering way, it makes all the others look like home videos. Many may even deny and call it exaggeration, but the crystal clear truth is that it is undoubtedly the best outdoor film ever made.




Either his pursuit of new climbing routes is a measure of his integrity or a symptom of his off-putting monomania. We can make up our own minds about that, because the film, directed by Dave O’Leske, is appreciative without being worshipful.



Fred Beckey was a literal trailblazer, climbing and exploring where no one had gone before. Fred inspired generations of climbers, including myself, and helped reveal the beauty of some of America’s most wild and rugged places, especially in his beloved Cascades. He also taught us how to be good stewards. My thoughts are with Fred’s family, his climbing partners and everyone in the climbing community.

10.30.2017 – We have some sad news to share with you. Fred Beckey passed away peacefully today.

Fred was a true American icon. His legacy is profound, and he has inspired countless people to explore this amazing planet. We are honored to have known Fred, and our memories with him will live on forever.



R.I.P. Fred Beckey, 1923 - 2017



Massively entertaining, here’s the life story of the greatest of all alpineclimbers, the “Bob Dylan” of his field, and still the thorniest at a never-say-die 94... Friends, enemies, critics, and exes line up to testify—good and bad, but always reverent. Then there’s Beckey himself, a man who was “never for sale”, beefing at the camera for a doc sponsored by Patagonia and still “mastering the art of pain” in his fragile old body. Contains a half-century of archival footage: amazing for a guy who refused to go public about his life until 2005.

08.25.2017 – VANCOUVER SUN


One of the "must-see movies" at Vancouver International Film Festival.




Along with celebrating Beckey's achievements, examining his impact on climbing culture and painting a rich portrait of a complicated man, "Dirtbag" ends up being an unexpectedly poignant look at the inevitability of growing old. (It's the rare climbing film that transcends its niche audience and will appeal broadly to documentary audiences.)



Fred Beckey is a bridge to the roots of the American climbing scene. He was there when it all started.
But he has always been more mystery than man. That is, until now... Dirtbag presents Beckey’s many climbing accomplishments, but it is not a climbing movie, per se. Rather, it’s a character study of a societal periphery antihero.


It is the inspiring story of how Fred Beckey became the poet laureate of dirtbaggery, doing by any means necessary. It is the story of how the legend spread... That is why the film resonates so well with non-climbers. It is an opus to an indomitable spirit... Dirtbag addresses the issues of a man in the twilight of his loner life. Legacy, mortality, and the weight of a life’s-worth of reflection are the universal driving questions in the film.



'Dirtbag' Is Peak Documentary Filmmaking. Filmmaker Dave O’Leske surely realized he’d struck documentarian’s gold a decade ago when he began tailing veteran mountaineer Fred Beckey... a living legend in the climbing community and a character so fascinating you’d swear a Hollywood screenwriter invented him... Beckey is poetry in motion... Dirtbag beautifully captures the romance inherent in Fred Beckey’s lifelong passion. It finds affectionate, oddball humor in latter-day Beckey’s cantankerous eccentricity. But it also illustrates with bracing clarity the thin line between following your dreams and being consumed by them.

06.02.2017 – THE SEATTLE TIMES


“Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” chronicles the fascinating life of the eponymous Seattle mountaineer who lived like a vagabond while scaling the world’s most-challenging peaks. Beckey, now 94, has been roving western states for decades and pioneered dozens, if not hundreds, of first ascents of climbing routes in the Cascade range. The climber, notable for his sparse lifestyle and surly nature, was also a prolific author of climbing guides and mountain books.



[B+] Beckey makes for perfect documentary fodder. He’s led a fascinating life and had a wide-reaching impact, but outside of certain small circles and a specific niche, he’s almost wholly unknown... Rebellious and uninhibited, Fred Beckey inspires and frustrates, enthralls and confounds. It’s easy to see why he attracted people to him like moths to fire for his whole life. He’s compelling, engaging, and kind of a dick, and all of this makes Dirtbag fascinating and entertaining as all hell.



Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, certainly paints the offbeat, Seattle-based mountain climber as a man who gives zero fucks about anything. He probably gives zero fucks about his own documentary, but you should, because it’s an interesting look at a man who, in the world of mountain climbing, has accomplished so much and gotten little praise for it—at least in the mainstream.



[3 out of 4 Stars]  The film portrays the famously churlish Beckey as a road-tripping vagabond with few creature comforts and even fewer anchors in life, save for the unclimbed mountains shouting his name.
In climber speak, he was a dirtbag — the sport’s original – and likely its finest.... Beckey’s character is revealed in candid moments captured by filmmakers during climbs with him and also through interviews with famous climbing contemporaries... It’s at its best, though, when examining the costs of single-mindedness (neglected relationships) and in exploring aging as Beckey embarked upon ambitious climbs into his 90s.



[Solid Rock Fist Up]  O’Leske’s documentary is refreshing in its honesty, and commendable for its refusal to take a side in the debate about whether Beckey’s life-choices were the “correct” ones... More than just an exploration of Beckey’s climbing legacy, Dirtbag is an examination of what total commitment to something does to a person, and whether the spoils justify the grind.



Beckey is a legend on the rock wall. In his 94 years of life, the climber’s one-track mind to conquer mountains led to an unconventional lifestyle on the road, leaving climbing partners and girlfriends in the dust. For the past 10 years, a team of filmmakers have been working on a documentary exploring Beckey’s life and the physical toll climbing for over eight decades has taken on him.



Beckey has a high bar for excitement, given his decades of record-setting mountaineering. Aside from grand adventures, he’s also picked up a number of  epithets in his career: Grandfather of the road trip. Climbing’s living encyclopedia. A mythical character. Totally obsessive. And at 93 years old, Beckey hasn’t changed a bit.

11.08.2016 – MOJA GEAR


Interview with Dave O'Leske, director of Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey

10.07.2016 – OUTSIDE ONLINE


Fred Beckey is Climbing's Living Encyclopedia. Fred Beckey all but invented the sport of climbing with daring first ascents of peaks once thought unclimbable. At 93, his brain might be the greatest repository of information about American mountaineering in existence.

09.07.2016 – GEAR JUNKIE


Dirtbag extraordinaire Fred Beckey broke the mold on first ascents among Americans. His tenacity, perseverance, and unwavering dedication to climbing made him as much an outcast as an icon. But one trait he is to everyone who’s known him is tough. An upcoming documentary sheds light on the man who made seemingly impossible feats of his day seem ordinary.





A Living Legend. Fred Beckey, a living legend among Northwest Mountaineers, is a climber, environmentalist, historian, and author. He's recognized as the most imaginative, persistent, and thorough explorer and mountain investigator of the Cascade Range Wilderness. He was noted as “one of America’s most colorful and eccentric mountaineers,” and is unofficially recognized as the all-time world-record holder for the number of first ascents credited to one man.



08.09.2016 – THE CLEANEST LINE


First impressions of Fred are that he’s disheveled, he’s extremely frugal and he’s never settled down—his is a vagabond life of never-ending climbing trips, even in his late 80s. These are not faults, but conscious choices in the life of someone who dedicates everything to his passion of climbing mountains. To fault Fred for these attributes would be to complain that Einstein spent too much time cooped up scribbling equations, or to ridicule Beethoven for all his time sitting at a piano. Fred’s seemingly chaotic lifestyle is, in fact, a careful plan of ultimate dedication...



He's notched more first ascents than any other American mountaineer, wrote the definitive guidebooks to a major North American mountain range, and at age 93, Fred Beckey is still plotting routes — though more slowly and buoyed by a cadre of fiercely protective partners. For years, stories have floated around about the man known as much for his eccentric personality as for his singular obsession with climbing...

08.09.2016 – THE CLEANEST LINE


This all began when I decided to hand-write a letter that I figured would never be read. I definitely did not expect it to be answered. First, I had to find the address of a man I wasn’t even sure had one.


I’ve always been intrigued by the pioneers of the sports I love. The adventurous few that broke trail for the rest of us into the unknown when maps were sparse and gear was heavy. Real explorers...



How many Fred Beckey first ascents have you climbed? Compiled by Danika Gilbert.

07.29.2016 – CORE 77


You don't have to know anything about mountain climbing to recognize Fred Beckey as a special kind of powerhouse. For those who do recognize the name, he's more myth than man. Before REI, GoreTex, or titanium gear, ravenous climbers were fueled by legends about the impossible places Fred Beckey had been and his guidebooks that proved it.


Beckey is one of the most confounding, notorious, and impressive figures in the history of American outdooring, and the film Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey is ready to show us why

07.29.2016 – THE INERTIA


Rock climb in North America long enough and eventually you’ll see these words: The Beckey Route. Then you’ll see them again. And again. And you’ll start to notice the man’s name on damn near every page of every guidebook containing traditional and alpine climbs. And beside his name, you’ll see the words, “First Ascent.”


That’s because Fred Beckey is one of the most accomplished adventurists/rock climbers/people to ever look at cliffs and mountains and see a climbable lines. Anyone who fancies themselves a climbing bum likewise owes Beckey a debt of gratitude.

07.28.2016 – INDIEWIRE Project of the Day


‘Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey’ Profiles a Quintessential Mountain Climber... The mythology of Fred Beckey has become almost superhuman. This film will encompass his legacy.


Vote for DIRTBAG as the IndieWire Project of the Week! (July 29 - August 1)



Fred Beckey got his start climbing with The Mountaineers in the 1940s, and went on to establish himself as the original dirtbag. We don't need to tell you he's a legend... Beckey is coming to The Mountaineers to celebrate the launch of a film chronicling his life, "Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey." Join the legendary mountaineer for a rare slideshow presentation and a first look at the extended film trailer on July 26.

06.01.2016 – OUTSIDE ONLINE


Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey is an upcoming documentary from Dave O’Leske that tells the story of a rebellious climbing icon who inspired a generation with his daring ascents and commitment to living off the grid. Now 93 years old, Fred Beckey has remained a mysterious figure with a controversial reputation in the climbing community. This film takes us inside the fascinating life of a legend and is a must-see for 2017.



We are all well acquainted with the term “Ski Bum” to describe a person that leads a life with the sole pursuit of skiing. Sacrificing career, relationships and well being to maximize time spent on the mountain.


Climbing has a similar designation known as the “Dirtbag.” This is a documentary about the original dirtbag, Fred Beckey, an American climbing icon who has made hundreds of first ascents, more than any other North American climber.



FRED BECKEY AT SHIPROCK (2016) Poster Design by JON GARN | Photo by JIM STUART Poster Design by DARREN LUND | Photo by DON LISKA
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