Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey
Panorama | Documentaries
From The Dirtbag Dictionary: "Dirtbag climber: n. a person who dedicates her or his entire existence to the pursuit of climbing, making ends meet using creative means. A dirtbag will get her food out of a dumpster, get his clothes from a thrift store, and live in a tent or vehicle to save money. Often found living near major climbing destinations, the dirtbag is a rebel with a cause who finds happiness in nature…"
Dave O’Leske turns his documentary eye towards the original American dirtbag climber, Seattle’s ornery Fred Beckey, now 94, 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. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Fred’s accomplishments exceeded anyone else’s in the sport. He shattered records with an unparalleled string of superhuman first ascents, bushwhacking trails and pioneering direct routes through areas previously thought impassable. He eschewed fame, sponsors, family life and the sport’s politics, so his only obligation would remain conquering the next summit.
Animations of Fred’s personal journals, guidebooks and photographs combine with breathtaking aerial photography, motion graphics and rare archival footage to weave together the tapestry of this complex man’s life. In the process, O’Leske’s portrait offers keen insight into the climber’s life while charting the successes (all those peaks) and failures (all those relationships) of a man obsessed.