Thank you for spending some time talking with us, Tommy. We appreciate it.
Editor: First of all, congratulations on becoming an Honorary Member of the American Alpine Club. You were there with Kevin and received this award in front of all your peers who rejoiced with you.
How did it feel to have the entire climbing family present there to honor your work?
Tommy Caldwell: I was obviously incredibly honored to get this award. It was incredible to have so many of my heroes in one room recognizing what we did. Kind of got me choked up.
Editor: I bet it did. Let’s talk about the film ‘A Line Across The Sky’ which drops in the Fall.
(For the readers: The full traverse has 7 beautiful peaks: starting with Guillaumet, Mermoz, followed by the immaculate Fitz Roy itself, Poincenot, Rafael Juarez, Saint Exupery, D L’s.)
Readers, check out the amazing trailer of 'A Line Across The Sky.'
Had this incredible and magnificent traverse been on your mind for a long time?
Tommy Caldwell: It has been an obvious objective in the world of Patagonian climbing for a long time. One of the most iconic sky lines in the world. On my first trip to Patagonia in 2002 a few climbers I knew had the traverse on there minds. But honestly I thought that getting a big enough weather window was unlikely.
Editor: Why did you pick Alex Honnold to do the traverse with you?
Tommy Caldwell: Alex is a great friend and the best person in the world at moving efficiently over rock. He likes big days and I knew that if he could get used to the cold and the ice, he could change the game in Patagonia.
Editor: What special attributes did he bring to your FA of the Fitz Traverse?
Tommy Caldwell: Boldness, efficiency, and a high level of morale. He could take a small rack of gear and make it last for a really long time. And he seems to be able to deal with anything that s thrown his way.
Editor: (Here’s what Alex says about himself in my interview with him: “I think our biggest difference on the traverse was just levels of experience. Tommy has been to Patagonia several times and knows a lot more about snow/ice climbing and glacial travel. I know basically nothing. He was basically the veteran mountain guide and I was more of the over-psyched beginner. But obviously we get along really well and had a great time.”
Tommy Caldwell: I wouldn’t say I was way more experienced on glacier travel and snow and ice than Alex. But a bit, so that became my role.
Editor: We also asked him if he was an alpinist at heart and he said no. Your partner said you lead the icy and snowy parts and were more of an alpinist. Is alpinism something that we’ll see you doing more of in the future?
Tommy Caldwell: I love the winter environment, but due to the objective hazards of alpine climbing I have mostly stuck with dry rock. As a Dad my stance hasn’t changed on that. I pick objectives in the mountains that have fewer objective hazards, but I am willing to deal with some snow and ice at times.
Editor: You took your family to Patagonia while you and Alex attempted this traverse. Does it make it easier to have Rebecca and Fitz with you? To your fans, it seems like a wonderful idea, as your family can provide priceless moral support.
Tommy Caldwell: I have traveled the majority of my life. Having my family with me is the only option otherwise I either wouldn’t see them much or I wouldn’t travel. And beyond that, the climbing life is a great lifestyle filled with incredible people. Becca loves it and I cant think of a healthier way to raise little Fitz.
Editor: That's absolutely awesome, that your family stays with you as your career keeps reaching new heights. Okay, I present this question to every climber I interview, and many are unable to give a response, because they say it is too difficult to answer. I’ll ask you the same question, because I think your answer will be inspirational.
What has climbing given to you?
Tommy Caldwell: Climbing has made me into the person I am today. It’s given me goals to strive for, and endless inspiration. It has given me a wonderful community and made me believe that anything is possible. I live my life in the most beautiful places in the world and I can’t imagine a life other than that of climbing.
Editor: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Tommy.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Climbing Page 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Screengrab © of Big Up Productions and Sender Films.
Official web site: http://www.tommycaldwell.com/
Facebook page: Tommy Caldwell
Patagonia, La Sportiva, Black Diamond, Climb On! Products, Bluewater Ropes, REVO Sunglasses, CLIF Bar.
(FA) Kryptonite (5.14c/d), Fortress of Solitude, Colorado.
(FA) Flex Luthor (a possible 5.15a),Fortress of Solitude, Colorado.
(FA) The Honeymoon is Over (5.13c), Long's Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
(FFA) Lurking Fear (5.13c) El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California (with Beth Rodden).
(FFA) West Buttress (5.13c), El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California.
(FFA) Dihedral Wall (5.14a), El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California.
The Nose (5.14a), El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California (3rd/4th ascent with Beth Rodden).
(FFA) Linea di Eleganza (5.12c), Fitzroy, Argentine Patagonia (with Topher Donahue and Eric Roed).
(FFA) Magic Mushroom (5.14a), El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California (with Justen Sjong).
Other El Capitan free ascents:
Salathe, Freerider, Golden Gate, El Corazon, Zodiac, Muir Wall.
Screengrab of Tommy Caldwell from 'A Line Across The Sky'.
On the Cover:
Winner of the Piolet d'Or &
Named one of Men’s Journal’s
50 Most Adventurous Men.
Cover Date March 1st, 2015