After a seven-year quest of finding a way to free climb the steepest, blankest face of the monolithic El Capitan, Tommy Caldwell, and partner Kevin Jorgeson, stood atop The Dawn Wall with the world watching. Even President Barack Obama was moved by their nineteen-day climb stating, “You remind us that anything is possible.”
Tommy’s father, a bodybuilding mountain guide, set out to show him the wonder of their backyard, the Colorado Rockies. By age twelve Tommy knew the pungent smell of a building electrical storm and the deep-down contentment felt after a twenty-hour day spent engaged in the grandeur of the mountains.
Tommy rose to the top of the competition circuit quickly and started establishing the hardest roped climbs in the United States as a teenager. His childhood in the mountains beckoned him back to bigger climbing objective. On an expedition to southwest Kyrgyzstan in 2000 Tommy and three other climbers were taken hostage. For six days they survived on no food and little water and eventually escaped when Tommy pushed their remaining captor off of a cliff and they ran 10 miles to a military outpost. “That experience completely changed my view of the world. I was given a glimpse into the power of the human will. I knew that we are capable of so much more than most of us can imagine.”
Tommy returned from Kyrgyzstan with a need to explore his perceived limits and found El Capitan to be the perfect canvas. Just one year after his hostage epic Tommy had a home remodeling accident and cut off his index finger with a table saw. This only increased his resolve and Tommy soon became the world’s most proficient big wall free climber.
Free climbing the most routes on El Capitan, including many first ascents, led Tommy to the improbable Dawn Wall. It was obvious this climb couldn’t be accomplished alone. Tommy knew the route needed the strength of a partnership. Kevin Jorgeson joined the efforts and they started to tackle the project move by move. “For years we mostly failed, but occasionally we would make breakthroughs. As a team we became stronger than I ever could have been on my own.”
Tommy was named one of National Geographic’s 2014 “Adventurers of the Year.”
In 2017, Tommy penned the inspiring memoir, The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits.
Tommy is married to wife, Rebecca Caldwell, and they have a young son, Fitz. They reside in Estes Park, Colorado.
"Advance Praise for The Push: If you want to be inspired by a great leader, if you want to feel what it takes to do what no one thought possible, if you want to be absorbed by a heroic journey--Tommy Caldwell's story is one of the best you could ever hope to find. Here, in his own words, you get more than just a climbing adventure, you get the inside view of how a person can endure crushing setbacks and persist to fulfill a spectacular vision. And in sharing his story, he has become a teacher to us all."- Jim Collins, Best-Selling Author of Good to Great
"Advance Praise for The Push: The Push is the most insightful book about climbing I’ve ever read, and quite possibly the most enjoyable. Whether Caldwell is explaining his astounding feats on vertical terrain, or the agony of trying to sustain a doomed relationship, or the merits of what he calls ‘elective suffering,’ the writing is consistently captivating and unfailingly honest."- Jon Krakauer, Best-Selling Author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air and Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College
"Tommy and Kevin did so much for Samsung during their time at the conference. We really appreciated that their storyline was so well told and received by the guests. They have a lot of fans at Samsung."- Samsung
"Tommy really knocked it out of the ballpark with his emotionally gripping talk at Obscura Digital. Having him there that evening was a definitive moment and it shifted the paradigm for all of us involved in environmental science education. He has inspired a whole generation of young people to think creatively and out-of-the-box about their personal ‘Dawn Wall.' "- NRG
"Tommy did a FANTASTIC job and I have people tell me on a daily basis he was one of the best keynote speakers we have had at our conference. "- Colorado Governor's Conference