Families — Parents — Kids
The Cool Story of How Rock Climber Tommy Caldwell Got Started
In the arena of big wall rock climbing, Tommy Caldwell is a guy with an impressive résumé. We're talking numerous first free ascents on El Capitan and an insane enduro record of Yosemite's Triple Crown he pulled off in 2012 with Alex Honnold — 80 pitches combined linking the three biggest walls in Yosemite in just over 21 hours. Those are just the bookends of his accomplishments. He's also doing it all without the luxury of a left index finger because he severed his on a table saw back in 2001. The year before, he was famously and tragically held hostage with three other climbers in Kyrgyzstan, an episide the crew escaped from by shoving one of their captors off of a cliff sending him to his demise. All four escaped (link).
Back to climbing, for the last five years the guy has been on a project to free the Dawn Wall, an aid climbing route on El Capitan first climbed in a 28-day push by Warren Harding in 1970. Climbing this route free is a tall, tall order, evidenced in the five years Caldwell has dedicated to it so far.
"We have all these perceived ideas of where our boundaries are, and maybe those are completely wrong . . . It makes you wonder, what else is possibe?"So, what makes this guy tick? Funny enough, Facebook used his story about climbing the Dawn Wall in a promotional piece, the video you see above. But the reason I share it with you today isn't to promote Facebook but because of what Tommy tells us about how he got his start in rock climbing: "My dad is my superhero," he says. "He showed me this incredibly fulfilling way to live." That is, climbing rocks.
The video is largely narrated by Tommy and his parents, and he affectionately relays that when his dad first took him rock climbing he was 3 years old and "Dad dragged me up." Many, many years later, here he is setting records and climbing harder than any of us could hope to climb.
And he credits his superhero dad. So cool.
If nothing else, watch the five-minute clip for some wildly fun climbing footage of Tommy high on the walls of El Cap, pinching impossible holds, launching dynos, and taking some falls that'll make your palms sweat.