Mountainfilm: "Dirtbag" Featured At Annual Film Night

Join Mountainfilm for its annual fundraiser on Tuesday, December 26, at Telluride’s historic Sheridan Opera House. The program features two screenings of  Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey and a pair of Wagner Custom Skis in a silent auction. Director, Telluride local and Mountainfilm Commitment Grant recipient Dave O’Lesketakes the stage for a Q&A following both screenings. Dirtbag screenings at 5 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. SHOW Bar + silent auction open one hour prior to each screening. Tickets for adults are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. Tickets for children are $15 in advance; $20 at the door. Purchase tickets here.

Nonegenarian climber Fred Beckey was the original dirtbag. He climbed peaks spanning from the Pacific Northwest to China and the Himalaya. [Photo courtesy of Mountainfilm]

Most climbers claim passion for the sport. But few, if any, reach the level of single-minded obsession that seized Fred Beckey as a teenager and held him in its grasp for more than 80 years. Beckey, who passed away in October at the age of 94, was one of the most accomplished, prolific and unrelenting climbers in the history of the sport.

His life and legacy are chronicled in the feature documentary Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey, which premiered at Mountainfilm in 2017. Beckey made the trip to Telluride for the premiere, joining director Dave O’Leske on stage for standing ovations.

Mountainfilm will celebrate Beckey’s storied accomplishments and idiosyncratic spirit at its annual winter fundraiser on December 26. The event will feature screenings of Dirtbag at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House. O’Leske will be on hand for Q&As after the films. The program also includes Imagination, a new ski short by Sherpas Cinema. And highly coveted items, like a pair of Wagner skis, are featured in a silent auction.

Mountainfilm Festival Director Suzan Beraza said Dirtbag was an easy pick for Mountainfilm’s 2017 winter fundraiser. The film tells the story of a larger-than-life man driven by indomitable spirit, and this is Mountainfilm’s way of paying tribute to his life.

“It just felt like a great way to honor Beckey,” Beraza said. “And with our 40th anniversary coming up, we really want to pay homage to Mountainfilm’s roots and history. ‘Dirtbag’ is the perfect film for that.”

Mountainfilm Executive Director Sage Martin said the festival is also pleased to support Telluride filmmaker O’Leske, who made the film with the help of a 2012 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant:

“We’re proud of Dave and this film that celebrates Mountainfilm’s roots,” Martin said. “Dirtbag was a festival favorite, and we’re thrilled to bring it back to share with the community.”

Beckey is credited with putting up more first ascents than any other American climber. [Photo courtesy of Mountainfilm]

Dirtbag chronicles the dogged obsession that propelled Beckey up his many ascents — as well as the personal consequences that came with it — and offers a humorous look at his quirks as a climbing lone wolf and original dirtbag.

Beckey’s climbing career started as a teen when he and his brother made an audacious summit of Mount Despair, a 7,292-foot peak in Washington, considered by many at the time to be unclimbable. That ascent set the tone for a life spent pioneering routes, exploding expectations, writing scores of guidebooks and breaking new ground in the mountains.

As Royal Robbins says in the film, “His name is everywhere. He was there before the rest of us were.”

His obsession never wavered; he climbed well into his 90s. And despite his accomplishments, Beckey remained one of the sport’s under-the-radar names, mostly because he preferred being on the crag to being in the spotlight. An incorrigible cheapskate who scrimped to maximize time in the mountains, he was also the definition of a dirtbag.

About Mountainfilm:

Established in 1979, Mountainfilm is dedicated to using film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Working at the nexus of filmmaking and action, its flagship program is the legendary Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, Colorado, a one-of-a-kind combination of films, conversations and inspiration. Mountainfilm also reaches audiences year-round through its worldwide tour and Mountainfilm for Students, an educational outreach initiative for youth. Mountainfilm has the power to change lives.

To learn more, visit www.mountainfilm.org.

To join the conversation, please read Mountainfilm’s news and follow Mountainfilm on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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