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Ask Tommy Caldwell // Win a FREE Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8

Original Post
Shannon Davis · · Lyons, CO · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 140

Howdy MP!

I'm a new staffer at Mountain Project, and i'm stoked to announce that Tommy Caldwell will be chiming in to this forum thread to answer your questions.

Next Thursday (3/10/16), he'll choose the five "most engaging and thought-provoking" inquiries to reply to. Consider it our version of an Ask Me Anything. To top it off, he'll award a 60m Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8 rope to his top two favorites.

That's this rope right here:… \

What burning questions do you have for Tommy? Training? The environment? The life and times of a pro climber? Parenthood? That Dawn Wall thing?

Let me repeat TC's guidelines in full: "Ask me the most engaging, thought-provoking question you can think of. Note that I did not say weirdest question!"

Okay GO!

DesertRat · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 196

A few:

1) Years ago, when you cut off your finger, what were the psychological repurcussions? How long was it before you knew that it wouldn't affect your climbing at the harder levels?

2) Has your approach to risk changed since you became a father? When you go after projects like the Patagonia traverse, does thinking about Fitz play a role on the your level of acceptable risk, either consciously or subconsciously?

3) Looking back on the time you were captured by rebel forces while on the wall in the middle east, do you find you have any PTSD left over from having to attempt to kill someone else in order to escape safely?

Vaughn · · Colorado · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 50

Do you consider yourself to have a high risk tolerance?

Gavin W · · Langley, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 181

Hi Tommy! A couple of questions:

1. How do you feel that the media coverage around your Dawn Wall project affected the way climbing is perceived in popular culture? Do you think that it will accelerate the process of climbing becoming more mainstream, or was it ridiculously difficult enough (in the eyes of the average American) that it remains a novelty?

2. Related to that, do you think the outdoor crags in North America are ready for the seemingly imminent influx of gym/recreational climbers that are new to the sport? It seems like we are getting to the point where, at some crags, bolts have been around long enough that they need to be replaced. How can the average climber help ease the transition period so that the crags remain both a safe and a clean space? (The Salathe Sweep project you just did with BD comes to mind). Or will the crags never be safe enough, and do people just need to accept that risk?

3. As a father, how do you anticipate that you will introduce Fitz to climbing? Are you at all concerned that your level of dedication will scare him away from the sport that you love if he's not ready to make a huge commitment to it as a kid? How can you mitigate that? (I ask as a hopeful future father, and also a husband who is hoping to make the transition from single pitch sport to, eventually, multipitch trad with my wife)

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 674

You've been a rockstar in the climbing world for a long time. How does it feel to be catapulted into mainstream stardom? You were on the Wheaties box - what impact has this sudden fame had on your life?

CornCob · · Sandy, UT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 20

Throughout history there have been numerous notable ascents, climbs that have redefined what is possible in the sport.

If you could have been a part of any climbing team in history which team would it be, and what is it about their climb that inspired you to choose them?

Patrick Wilder · · Birmingham, AL · Joined May 2015 · Points: 10

What drew you to climbing originally? For me, it was the adventure and how different it was. Now with more guidebooks being printed, gyms opening up and crags getting increasingly crowded, I feel like some of the uniqueness and adventure aspect has worn off. I went to my local crag last weekend and it was so crowded I almost didn't have fun (almost). I work for an outdoors program at a college and we have a climbing wall and are always pushing climbing trips and programs and classes. I guess what I'm getting at is how do you feel about the increasing popularity of climbing? Do you want to see as many people climbing as possible?

mattm · · TX · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,395

- With your recent, major accomplishments pushing into the mainstream and other ventures likely taking up more of your time, what do you envision as your future "lifestyle" in climbing, particularly with a growing family?

- You, many of your peers (Alex et al) and select younger climbers all appear to have embraced a different world "attitude" in regards to climbing. Eschewing the wild and rebellious "fight the man" days, the "new gen" seems to embrace a much more enlightened style of both climbing a lot but also using the medium to better the world around them. Do you think that's an accurate observation? Why the change?

Nicholas King 1 · · Grand Junction, Colorado · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 20

If you could sit down to a meal with any climber you wanted to, past or present, who would it be, what would you talk about, what would you be eating, and where would you be at??

Tim G. · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 73

Now that you sent the Dawn Wall, what is the "next big thing" for you and for the climbing world in general?

RkDav · · Bozeman · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 45

What do you think distinguishes you from the rest of the climbing community? What actions and opportunities brought you to this point?

Ben Wilbur · · Durango · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 0

What would your perfect climb be? If you could pick any kind of rock, style, length, location, moves, etc and combine them to make the most amazing line ever, what would it be like?

jacob m s · · Provo, Utah · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 100

You have previously talked about how becoming a father has changed how you view the risks inherit to rock climbing. If at some future date your wife asked you to quit climbing, for the benefit of your family would you quit climbing or keep climbing because it is a part of you?

Cor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,460

Have you ever beat Kelly Cordes in a margarita drinking competition?

If you had a baby girl, what mountain would you name her after, and why?

And last but not least.. Have you ever beaten you dad at arm wrestling?

Nick Blankenberger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 35

As a soon to be father myself, I am curious how the trials, joys, experiences, and memorable moments of your climbing career have influenced your role as a father. I imagine the experiences and highlights of your climbing career have in some way better prepared you for being a father, and inversely fatherhood complimenting and deepening your experience as a climber. How have these two aspects of your life enriched the experience in the other?

Nick B.

matt c. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 155

Dear Tommy,
I feel like I can call you Tommy because you and me are so alike. I'd like to meet you one day, it would be great to give you a catch. I know I can't climb as hard as you but I think you'd be impressed with my speed. I love your hair, you climb fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I hope you write back and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be a real bold flash!
Matt C


Another sticker

Caleb Mallory · · Seattle, Wa · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 425

Where do you want the world of climbing to be, in terms of progression, ethics, popularity, etc., by the time you leave it? What steps can be made to make this a reality?

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend caldwell,

I very much like you please answer my question yes, because I very much like win free rope. Also you would inspire us all and many think of you as their own climbing friend.

Do you enjoy more the great satisfaction of the flash, or the satisfaction of the long and painful redpoint? I believe you option 2 but may you please tell why.

Do you enjoy fun time euro dance party?

Are you terrified to climb at rifle because your belayer periodically no hand the grigri, and indefinitely rest their hand on the device contrary to manufacturer instruction?

Do you think it better to include fingerboarding, or better to climb hard instead as much as possible instead? Would the repeater or the maximum single hang be better for massive crushing grip strength iron palm?

Does it ever get socially awkward during bivy on the dawn wall and how do you recommend handling?

I thank you

Gold Plated Rocket Pony · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 91

Dear Tommy,
What's your most awkward portaledge story?

Dave T · · Charlotte · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 0


One hundred years from now, what do you see for the future of rock climbing and what concerns do you have?

ikmortu · · People's Republic of Chicago · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 5

Many people seem to focus on the risk, but I'm more interested in the rewards (not riches). So, how has your sense of accomplishment/reward changed as your climbing career has matured? Do you feel like you are getting more from the sport now than when you first started?

PS. Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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