Dirtbag: Fred Beckey


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Social climber
Washington, Arkansas
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 11, 2017 - 10:40am PT
Fred Beckey was at SIFF last night for a screening
Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey
They announced the film will be playing at the Mountaineers, doesn't yet have a distributor
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Jun 11, 2017 - 05:48pm PT
Sounds fun. I hope a distributor comes through. Would love to get a screening here in LA.

I've seen to Becky slide shows in the last 30 years. Both random goof-ball.

1980's expedition to climb obscure peak in China. Gets Quaker Oats company to finance it all. No summit. Really really not very good looking local people unhappily eating Quaker Oats. Fail!

200? Gives retrospective slide show. Turns to ask audience if any questions. Hands go up. He can't hear the questions, failing hearing.

Many great stories from friends who know him. I wish I could have gone climbing with him a long time ago.

Social climber
Jun 11, 2017 - 06:06pm PT
hey there say, pkay... wow, thanks for sharing... :)

we learn SO MUCH here at supertopo, :)

Trad climber
Jun 11, 2017 - 08:22pm PT
Dirtbag. Great title, not. Seems like a much better title could have been thought of. That kind of sucks based on his legendary feats and ascents and guidebooks. He is SO much more then a dirtbag, living the simple life was simply a ends to a means. How about "Legend" or "Legendary" instead?

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Jun 11, 2017 - 09:33pm PT
I agree Studly, was thinking the same thing.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
Jun 11, 2017 - 09:59pm PT
Yeah, he deserves a good documentary. That dirtbag Werner Herzog could have done a good job. I haven't seen it yet - maybe it's OK, but I'm wondering.

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Jun 12, 2017 - 11:05am PT
Herzog does a great job and I'm a fan. It's just that Dirtbag sensationalizes what the masses can relate to or visualize, since comprehension of his mind blowing climbing achievements...........not so much.

But I'm sure the film tries to capture the bigger picture, I hope.

Social climber
Jun 12, 2017 - 11:28am PT
Never remember hearing about Beckey until about 3-4 years ago when I started looking into climbing. Then, everywhere I looked, I noticed Beckey's name down for FA's in the mountains I was interested in going to. If the movie showed near me I'd definitely go and check it out.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
Jun 12, 2017 - 11:44am PT
Durtbag....!!!???? A cheap, poorly thought out Tittle.

How about:

Fred- Amazing life, Great American Pioneer, More First Ascents than any man alive and known playboy.

At one of his shows, he had slides of Fritz Wiessner, Heinrich Harrer and Dan McHale.... He also has slides of many different women looking out of various tent doors up on Mountains all over the globe....

Dirtbag indeed......

McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
Jun 12, 2017 - 11:46am PT
That dirty old man!

Jun 12, 2017 - 11:59am PT
Herzog does a great job and I'm a fan

Wrong movie, this one stars Fred, not a bear, a moron and some dumb broad.

Credit: BJ


Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Jun 12, 2017 - 03:42pm PT
Fred's counterpart in the world of mathematics is Paul Erdös, a Hungarian mathematician who died at 83 about twenty years ago. He roamed the world, traveling from university to university with a suitcase and shopping bag. My advisor had him as a house guest some years ago.

One considerable distinction, however, is that Erdös was a genius, whereas Fred was talented but his accomplishments were more a product of his insatiable drive. Both have been the subject of films, with the one of Erdös garnering few compliments. I agree that Dirtbag is an atrocious and to the general public a very demeaning descriptor. Wanderer, Vagabond, would have been better.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
Jun 12, 2017 - 05:21pm PT
At one of his shows, he had slides of Fritz Wiessner, Heinrich Harrer and Dan McHale.... He also has slides of many different women looking out of various tent doors up on Mountains all over the globe....

Hey Guyman, you have me with some good company there! I'm lucky my mother thought it was OK to climb with Fred, but Joe Brown got us together and she trusted Joe. I think she liked Fred's rugged good looks. He was only in his late 40s back then. She did whatever she could to keep me from hanging out with the wrong people.

I think his pink Thunderbird was before my time, but I got to ride around in Joe's Triumph! The funny thing about the Pink Thunderbird is that my 4th grade teacher had one and he was one of the most creative and inspiring teachers I ever had.....next to Fred that is! ;>)

The trailer in this article seems a bit more flattering and is 4 times longer; https://www.outsideonline.com/2122761/fred-beckey-climbings-living-encyclopedia


Sep 23, 2017 - 01:18pm PT
Mill Valley Film Festival, Oct 6th, 10th & 13th

Grizzlyville, WY
Sep 23, 2017 - 02:04pm PT
We all know how prolific he was/is. Here's a great visual:

Captain...or Skully

Boise, ID
Sep 23, 2017 - 02:05pm PT
Oh, eff you guys. "Dirtbag" is a perfect Title. I know Fred. He's a great dirtbag. I say that with the utmost respect.
Obviously, none of YOU know what it is, even. BAH!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 23, 2017 - 03:50pm PT
He ain't a dirtbag, he da Dirtbag Emeritus. Anybody can be a dirtbag.

Social climber
great white north
Sep 23, 2017 - 03:59pm PT
Given that Chouinard sponsors the Dirtbag diaries, I see it as an earned honorific. Many aspire but few achieve this status, kind of like earning the sobriquet of climber.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Sep 23, 2017 - 04:15pm PT
Oh God, it's Fred!

September 1999


About 4 weeks ago I was climbing with TM in Tuolumne. We had gotten a late 10:30 AM start and people were already on South Crack, so I insisted that we race up the Eunuch. We did. Back at the base in less than an hour and a half and seeing that the South Crack route was still jammed up with helmeted climbers with huge racks and brand new chalk bags, I convinced Herbert to run up that route just left of West Country. Before I could get TM moving from the car, a young climber with Asian features approached me and asked if I was looking for a climbing partner. I responded, Not really, despite appearances, I had a climbing partner ... see, there he is ... the one with the stupid looking hat. I added that he was not only my climbing partner, but that on occasion he passed as my father. The kid was looking askance at my 20 year old swami belt whose knot no longer had the appropriate length to gird my expanding waistline, and at my distinct lack of a chalk bag. Then I mentioned that HE, my partner, was the famous TM Herbert.

The kid was aghast and agape ... not THE TM Herbert! Yes, I replied, none other. He wanted to be introduced immediately and just casually remarked that he, too, was climbing with a legend. Fred Beckey! I said, Fred Beckey, where? Right there. In that car. I looked back and there, not more than ten feet away, seated in his car and absorbed in some written material in his lap, was Fred Beckey.

Fred, you old fart! How the hell are you?, as I approached the car, not knowing whether old Fred would even know who I was.

Lauria, what the hell are you doing here?

He recognized me. I was flattered. I'm climbing you old f*#ker, I'm climbing with TM. TM? Is he still coming up here?
Well, things settled down. TM came up. Fred got out of the car. We all shook hands. Fred was stooped and looked every year of his 80-some-odd. He had an injured foot and was limping which only added to the impression of his advancing age. We learned that, true to form, he had somehow convinced this young Asian to drive him down from Seattle to the Sierra so that they might go into the Palisades area to do some new secret Beckey route. But now, because of his injured foot, they had detoured to Tuolumne so that the kid might at least get in some climbing.

TM and I pried ourselves away from the ever loquacious Beckey and ran up our proposed route. We returned to the base to find South Crack open and again had to pull away from Fred to be next on the route. By 3:00 PM we were back at the car with Fred. Herbert was still insisting that Fred get an X-ray and Fred, who is more deaf than I am, was either ignoring the suggestion or the message was not getting through his faulty ear canals. In fact, the two of them, although apparently talking to each other, were by outward appearances carrying on two separate conversations. Neither of them was listening or maybe just not hearing the other.

TM and I finally excused ourselves and headed back to the Tuolumne store for a six pack which was subsequently downed in back of the Chevron station. After listening to Herbert expound on the necessity of x-rays in diagnostic medicine for over an hour, I managed to slip away and back to Bishop by 5:30 PM. So old Fred is still out there, but man, he's starting to look like a dirt bag.


Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 23, 2017 - 05:36pm PT
As I recall Fred was going deaf in his thirties or, at least, pretending to.
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