‘Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey’ returns, to show at LTCC | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey’ returns, to show at LTCC

South Lake Tahoe's Todd Offenbacher climbs with the late Fred Beckey, the subject of a documentary film that will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, at Lake Tahoe Community College's Duke Theater.
Provided / Corey Rich |

After a popular showing just over two months ago, “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” will make its Lake Tahoe Community College premiere at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, inside Duke Theatre.

The second showing comes on the heels of a popular premiere Jan. 6 at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa.

Doors to Duke Theatre will open at 6 p.m. and tickets cost $15.

Beckey, who died in October, is the original American “Dirtbag” climber whose name has evoked mystery, adulation and vitriol for more than 70 years, according to a press release from South Lake Tahoe’s Todd Offenbacher, the film’s associate producer.

Offenbacher and fellow South Lake resident Corey Rich were involved for years in the making of “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey.”

The life story of Beckey, a rebel athlete who inspired generations of climbers to head for the mountains with his monumental first ascents and eloquent books, is told in this documentary film.

Beckey’s adventures began in Washington’s North Cascade range with his brother Helmy in the 1930s. In 1942, the Beckey brothers cemented their place in climbing lore when the teenagers survived a second ascent of Mount Waddington — considered the most difficult climb in North America at the time.

This success marked the beginning of Beckey’s tear of first ascents around the world, during which he became the consummate “Dirtbag” climber: defined as one who forgoes the pursuit of material comforts and defies societal norms in order to pursue a nomadic mountaineering lifestyle, according to the press release.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Beckey shattered records with a string of superhuman first ascents, bushwhacking trails and pioneering direct routes that were thought to be previously impassable. He eschewed fame, sponsors, family life and the politics of the sport so that his only obligation would remain conquering the next summit, the press release states. Beckey’s individualistic attitude led to him being passed over when the first American team was formed to summit Mount Everest in 1963, but the exclusion only drove Beckey to seek more summits.

Beckey slowed physically in his 90s, but his zeal for the outdoors never waned, and he continued plotting new routes up undiscovered ranges for the next generation of climbers and explorers.

Film director Dave O’Leske spent the past decade filming Beckey with unprecedented access, getting to know the man in the mountains of China, across North America and in his Pacific Northwest home.

More than 30 additional interviews with some of the world’s greatest climbers — including Yvon Chouinard, Layton Kor, Conrad Anker, Royal Robbins, Reinhold Messner and Jim Whittaker — attest to Fred Beckey’s legendary stature and iconic impact on the alpine world.

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