A Close Look at “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” (Ep.7)

All Things Climbing Podcast, Blister Climbing Podcast

If you’ve climbed in the mountains of North America, there’s a good chance you’ve climbed one of Fred Beckey’s routes. Beckey, known for his tremendous number of classic first ascents and his eccentric personality, continued climbing well into his nineties before passing away late last year. DIRTBAG: THE LEGEND OF FRED BECKEY is Dave O’Leske’s documentary of one of the most influential climbers of all time. O’Leske followed Fred for a decade toward the end of Fred’s life, and that story — combined with volumes of archival materials — makes for a universally compelling film. O’Leske shares with us what it was like to tell the story of such a complex and controversial figure, as well as some of the material that was ultimately left out of the film. DIRTBAG is still on tour — check out the dates at dirtbagmovie.com/tour.


  • How did the project start? (3:20)
  • How Fred reacted to the idea of a having a documentary made about him. (6:60)
  • Fred’s personal archives. (7:30)
  • How Fred, despite being famously untidy, was actually sharply organized. (9:30)
  • What motivated Fred? (15:50)
  • Fred’s struggle to find climbing partners later in life. (19:40)
  • How was it making a ‘climbing’ documentary that appeals to a general audience? (26:00)
  • Dave O’Leske’s favorite scenes that were cut from the final film. (28:00)

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