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What are you up against? | Tommy Caldwell | TEDxKC

Author(s): Tommy Caldwell
Video Release Date: September 15, 2015
Video Source: YouTube

Tommy Caldwell is a big-wall free climber, over 19 days in early 2015 he completed the first-ever free climb of the Dawn Wall at El Capitan (considered the hardest climb of its type in the world).

Tommy’s talk raises an interesting question: why do some people experience post-traumatic growth? Tommy credits his father who understood the idea of raising kids with grit long before it became a parenting buzzword; believing you must prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child.”

Tommy Caldwell began climbing not long after he learned to walk. When his father, a larger-than-life bodybuilder and mountain guide, introduced him to the world of adventure, he handed him an eternal flame. 

As a teenager, talent and passion led Caldwell to the top of the competition climbing and sport climbing circuits. Soon after, as his appetite for adventure grew, he became obsessed with the incredibly demanding genre of big-wall free climbing. 

But in his early twenties, Caldwell was held hostage by militants in a harrowing ordeal in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, and then, upon returning home, he lost his index finger in a home remodeling accident. Caldwell emerged with a renewed grit and ability to suffer, further cultivating his legendary determination. 

His subsequent free climbing accomplishments on El Capitan – the Mecca of the pursuit – remain unmatched, and most of his peers consider Caldwell the best all-around rock climber in the world. 

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