If you can appreciate what a “dirtbag” is, you will likely think that “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” is a fantastic documentary.
No one accomplished more North American first ascents than Beckey. While a large team would spend six months climbing Everest, Beckey filled that time being the first to climb a dozen mountains or new routes up mountains.
In his late eighties, he was still re-trying climbs he’d never summited, still slept on the ground, still pestered people to climb with him. Much enfeebled in his nineties, this film includes Fred climbing a rockface about a year before he died at age 94.
People said he was the consummate dirtbag. A caption in the film defines, “committed to an extreme lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms.” Someone said that Beckey was more single-minded than all the other single-minded climbers.
Not incidentally, Beckey authored more than a dozen (essentially non-moneymaking) books and was known as a dedicated researcher and scholar in the realm of climbing. He never went the endorsements route. He never leveraged entrepreneurial opportunity.
Watching “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey,” you’ll see some of the wilderness beauty and arduous process that he lived to breathe. You may feel compelled to think he’s a sad version of a man. Suit yourself, but see this film and be amazed. Fred Beckey lived a long, active life on his own terms.