Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey

The Early Winter Spires and Liberty Bell from the Washington Pass Overlook. The Beckey Route on the southwest side of Liberty Bell (rightmost spire) is probably the most famous alpine rock climb in the North Cascades.

If you play in the mountains or cliffs anywhere from Alaska to Southern California, Fred Beckey’s life has touched yours.

Beckey was the original climbing “dirtbag,” and among his many firsts, pioneered an obsessive-compulsive climbing lifestyle that spanned 80 years.

The recently released Kickstarted documentary “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” provides insight and context about Beckey’s complex life. The film includes interviews with some of the world’s greatest climbers and authors––including Timothy Egan, Yvon Chouinard, Layton Kor, Conrad Anker, Royal Robbins and Reinhold Messner.

Beckey was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, his family immigrated to the United States in 1925, and they settled in Seattle. Beckey began climbing as a teen in Washington’s North Cascades with his brother Helmy. In 1942, the teenagers made an unlikely second ascent of Mount Waddington in British Columbia’s remote Coast Mountains, which was considered the most difficult climb in North America at the time. Fred just kept on climbing, with a focus on aesthetic, challenging first ascents. First ascents are considered harder than subsequent ascents because of the unknowns involved.

Beckey authored numerous climbing guidebooks for The Mountaineers.

Check out the new documentary, which is bound to amuse and inform, whether you are a mountaineer or simply enjoy day hikes in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Climbing magazine obituary about Fred: January 14, 1923-October 30, 2017 (94)

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