Tommy Caldwell

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This article is about the rock climber. For the musician who was a member of The Marshall Tucker Band, see Tommy Caldwell (musician).
Tommy Caldwell
Personal information
Born (1978-08-11) August 11, 1978 (age 36)
Estes Park, Colorado
Occupation Rock Climber
Climbing career
Type of climber Big wall climbing

Tommy Caldwell (born August 11, 1978 in Estes Park, Colorado) is an American rock climber. He was married to prominent American rock climber Beth Rodden in 2003. They divorced in 2010.[1]

Caldwell is accomplished in several types of climbing, including sport climbing, hard traditional climbing, big-wall speed climbing and big-wall free climbing. He made the first ascents (FA) of some of the United States' hardest sport routes (as of 2008) including Kryptonite (5.14c/d) and Flex Luthor (a possible 5.15a) at the Fortress of Solitude, Colorado.

Caldwell is a big-wall climber, with the first free ascents of a handful of El Capitan routes to his credit. In May, 2004 he completed the first free ascent of Dihedral Wall. In 2005, he and Beth Rodden (swapping leads) made the third and fourth free ascents of The Nose. Two days later, on October 16, Caldwell free-climbed The Nose in less than 12 hours. A few days later, Caldwell climbed The Nose in 11 hours, descended the East Ledges, and then climbed Freerider, topping out 12 hours later - the first ascent of two El Capitan free climbs in 24 hours.

On El Capitan, Caldwell has also free-climbed: Lurking Fear, Muir Wall (Cosgrove var. to Magic Mushroom finish, FFA), West Buttress, Salathé, Zodiac and Magic Mushroom.

Caldwell, Beth Rodden, and fellow climbers John Dickey and Jason Smith were held hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan in 2000. Caldwell ended up pushing a lone captor off a cliff, which led to their escape to government soldiers.[2]

Caldwell accidentally sawed off much of his left index finger with a table saw in 2001. Doctors were able to reattach the severed portion, but Caldwell subsequently had it removed so as not to hinder his climbing career.[3]

Notable ascents[edit]

  • 2001: The Honeymoon is Over V 5.13 Longs Peak, Colorado, USA. FA with Beth Rodden belaying.[4]
  • 2003: Flex Luthor (5.14d/15a?), Fortress of Solitude, Colorado, USA[5]
  • 2003: West Buttress (FFA) VI 5.13c, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, USA[6]
  • 2004: Dihedral Wall (FFA) VI 5.14a, El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, USA[7]
  • 2005: The Nose VI 5.13, 3rd/4th Free Ascent (with Beth Rodden), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, USA[8]
  • 2006: Linea di Eleganza VI 5.11b A3 90 degrees M7 Fitz Roy, Argentine Patagonia. FFA with Topher Donahue and Erik Roed.[9]
  • 2008: Magic Mushroom (FFA) VI 5.14a with Justen Sjong, May 12–17, 2008, El Capitan, Yosemite, California, USA[10]
  • 2012: Yosemite Triple Crown 5.13a, 1st All Free Ascent with Alex Honnold [11]


  1. ^ Cordes, Kelly (2010-09-10). "Granite China". The Cleanest Line. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  2. ^ "Climbers Recount Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan". 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  3. ^ "Tommy Caldwell Looses Finger". Camp4. 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  4. ^ Caldwell, Tommy; Roger Briggs (March 2007). "The Honeymoon is Over". Alpinist (Jackson, WY, USA: Alpinist Magazine) 19 (Spring 2007): 40. ISSN 1540-725X. 
  5. ^ "2003 Golden Piton Awards - Sport Climbing". Climbing Magazine. Action Sports Group. Retrieved 2007-03-02. 
  6. ^ Wright, Cedar (2004). "YOSEMITE VALLEY - Various Activity". Alpinist Magazine. Marc Ewing. Retrieved 2007-03-02. 
  7. ^ MacDonald, Dougald. "Caldwell Frees Dihedral Wall". Climbing Magazine. Action Sports Group. Retrieved 2007-03-02. 
  8. ^ MacDonald, Dougald. "Caldwell-Rodden Free the Nose". Climbing Magazine. Action Sports Group. Archived from the original on 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2007-03-02. 
  9. ^ Caldwell, Tommy; Topher Donahue (September 2006). "Scattered Ashes". Alpinist (Jackson, WY, USA: Alpinist Magazine) 17 (Autumn 2006): 50–57. ISSN 1540-725X. 
  10. ^ Beckwith, Christian (May 20, 2008). "More Details on Magic Mushroom". Alpinist Magazine. Marc Ewing. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  11. ^ "Caldwell, Honnold: Yosemite Free Triple Crown". Retrieved 2012-07-31. 

External links[edit]