Dave O'Leske

About Us


The dZi Foundation


DirtBag: The Legend of Fred Beckey






October, 2013

We traveled with Fred for an adventure to the remote Changping Valley in Siguniang National Park Sichuan, China. At 90 years old, Fred made it into the difficult to reach basecamp at 12,500 feet.


Helmy Beckey

We are very excited to announce with the help of the Telluride Mountainfilm Comminment Grant we were able to travel to Europe this winter and film two critical interviews for the film. First we met up with Norman Dyhrenfurth in Salzburg. At the spry age of nearly 95 he was amazing to spend time with. Norman was the expedition leader on the 1955 first ascent attempt on Lhotse which Fred was a part of. In Munich, we spent a number of days with Fred's brother, Helmy. Helmy moved to Munich nearly 40 years ago to pursue his love of music and the opera. Helmy shared wonderful insight into the childhood adventures he and Fred often found themselves in cumulating with their incredibly 2nd ascent of Mt. Waddington as teenagers. We have interviewed the who's who of the climbing world (young & old) including Yvon Chouinard, Layton Kor, Royal Robbins, Conrad Anker and Colin Haley to name just a few, many friends and ex-girlfriends plus nearly 10 hours of interview footage with Fred. We have assimilated an amazing amount of material including never before seen archival films and photos, hand drawn topos of Fred's favorite climbs and a glimpse into what makes this man so interesting thru the pages of his journals dating back to his childhood in the 1920s. This is a major project so bear with us as it will be well worth the wait! As always we greatly appreciate any and all continued support of this important documentary.

Filming Fred Ja-Ra basecampInterview with Fred
Jeff filming in Chengdu
Editing with Fred
Dave filming Fred surrounding by Chinese girlsEric Bjornstad Interview

Every once in a great while an individual lives a life that is so unique and inspiring that their story must be preserved for posterity.  This is a documentary film that will tell the story of such a character;  a man named Fred Beckey.

Fred Beckey

The American Alpine Club

Supports "Fred Beckey Film" with tax-deductible donations

This is a great opportunity for individuals to give back to a man that has done so much for climbing. If you want to help see Fred Beckey’s story told, your donations to the AAC for this project will be applied directly to the production of this important historical documentary. Donations are kindly accepted from members and non-members. Please send us a quick email prior to any donations towards "Fred Beckey Film" at info@throughachildseyesproductions.com so we can make sure it is processed correctly. Thanks!!!

  • Simply click the "Donate Now" button below and be linked directly to the AAC's donation page. Be sure to allocate donation to "other". You must mention "Fred Beckey Film" in the comments field.
  • Make checks payable to The American Alpine Club, make sure to mention "Fred Beckey Film" on the check or included in a note. The AAC 710 Tenth Street Suite 100 Golden, CO 80401
  • Call the AAC office (303)384-0110 to make a gift of stock or other property. You must mention "Fred Beckey Film" for your donation.

Donations of $500 and up will receive a signed copy of the film, sure to become a vital piece of climbing history.

"One Day with Fred"

Below is a short film shot in video mode on a point-and-shoot still camera. The quality is far from perfect in today's HD world but this film project will be a collection of a variety of formats spanning the better part of the last century. Many of you have shared adventures of one kind or another with Fred over the years and we would love to have a look at any photos or video you have of Fred being Fred. We are far more interested in the quality of stories behind your images than resolution or format of the medium. Please get in touch if you have footage or photos of Fred and maybe your shots will make it into "Direct Beckey".


"There is no more prolific and important American climber than Fred. This story has to be told." Yvon Chouinard

"Fred Beckey is the quintessential American climber, a man of awesome energy, roaming the mountains at will, leaving his name on top of many a peak. (He) has climbed more virgin summits than any other American, perhaps any other human." Royal Robbins

"Becky's unparalleled number of first ascents notwithstanding; it is his decades of relentless exploration of North America's alpine wilderness that leaves me most in awe. His story needs to be told." Jim Donini

"Fred Beckey is a living legend. His passion for climbing, love for the great mountains of the world, and his pioneering spirit have helped to shape modern climbing. Fred Beckey is an inspiration and a hero to every true climber." Corey Rich


Fred with Tibetan


Fred Beckey and a small team attempted the unclimbed peak Ja-Ra in Eastern Tibet

Ja-Ra Peak

We would like to thank everyone who helped make this trip possible for Fred who has dreamt of returning to this region of China for many, many years.  The team was able to climb to the lower North summit of the mountain despite deep snow, tricky climbing conditions and a streak of bad weather.    Only 500 feet shy of the true summit conditions deteriorated rapidly and the weather window closed for the remainder of the expedition.  Fred led the team from the advanced base camp at over 13,000 feet and provided invaluable insight into route finding and logistics for the climbers.  Fred is already trying to figure out how to return to the region when the mountains are in better shape for climbing.

Climbing in BC

To many the name Fred Beckey is unfamiliar but in the world of mountaineering it is a name that has inspired climbers for generations.  It is a name synonymous with passion, determination, spirit, exploration, 1st ascents, preservation, character and history.  Fred Beckey is foremost a climber.  He is also an author, lecturer, historian and preservationist.  He has been exploring and climbing mountains since the mid-1930s when he and his brother Helmy first ventured into the North Cascades.  He has traveled to many of the world’s great mountain ranges always searching for challenging unclimbed summits.  His partners have included individuals such as Heinrich Harrer, Yvon Chouinard, Pete Schoening, Layton Kor and John Middendorf just to name a few.  Fred Beckey is now in his 80s yet his passion and desire to explore and climb remote mountain ranges has not wavered. 

Famous pink Thunderbird

Climbing has always been the driving force, the central focus and the passion of Fred Beckey’s life. He has never actively sought recognition; he climbs for the untainted sake of climbing and for his love of unknown, unexplored spots on the map. His writings and lectures have always been as much about protecting wild places as exploring them.  Even Beckey’s earliest guidebooks ring through with "conservationism for the future" and reveal an active environmentalist long before environmentalism was a popularized concept. Of course, he is most known for his incredible accomplishments and longevity in the world of climbing.  Over the last 70 years, this one man has accumulated so many first ascents of mountains around the world that even he is not sure of the total.  Through it all, perhaps Beckey’s greatest quality has been his ability to inspire others to walk further into the mountains and find their own summits.

Climbing in Palisades

Beckey’s character has made him somewhat of a mythical being in the climbing community.  Legends and stories surround the name Fred Beckey.  One thing is for sure, he has climbed and explored the mountain ranges of the world with inspiring passion for nearly 70 years, and his drive and curiosity is hardly being slowed by the physical limitations of growing older. Fred Beckey is not only a pioneer in the world of mountaineering: he is, in a very real sense, a living legend.  Beckey's legacy will always be remembered and he is now ready for his story to be told.

Will Belay for Food

As documentary filmmakers we seek out individuals whose lives have inspired others.  We look for people who have enriched our world and whose story will have a profound effect on everyone who discovers it.  Fred Beckey’s life story is just that and to tell it in a powerful, inspiring film gives a unique and special opportunity to span generations and help preserve his incredible life.   

We envision a film which will act as an important historical document, and at the same time tell the raw and impassioned story of a unique human being.  Our goal for this film transcends a story of climbing and acts as a parable for choosing one’s own path and direction in life. 

Don Liska photo Mt. Seattle

All photographs provided courtesy of the Fred Beckey Collection


For more information concerning "Fred Beckey Film" contact us at: