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.
Although rock climbing remains his primary focus, his 2014 climb in the mountains of Patagonia received Caldwell the prestigious Piolet D'Or award (France), for the year's finest alpine ascent. Later in 2014, he was chosen as one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year. His well-known 2015 first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan has been called the hardest rock climb in history. Recently, at the age of thirty-six, he became one of only a handful of living recipients of the American Alpine Club's highest distinction: Lifetime Honorary Membership. Caldwell is a frequent contributor to Alpinist, Climbing, and Rock and Ice magazines, and earns his living as a professional climber. He lives in the town where he first learned to climb, Estes Park, Colorado, with his wife, Becca, and their two year-old son, Fitz.