Outdoor Retailer - July 2021 - 40

#athletelife: Tommy Caldwell
Low-Impact
Lessons
From business to family to environmental
stewardship with Protect Our Winters,
Tommy Caldwell lives thoughtfully. Here's
what he's learned on big walls and in daily life.
by Chris Van Leuven
" I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO BETTER AND BE BETTER, "
Tommy Caldwell says over the phone from his small mountain house
near Estes Park, Colorado. He tells me he's in the middle of a home
remodel, where he's integrating the latest energy-saving methods to
reduce his environmental impact. Steps include adding efficient insulation
and powering his home with renewable energy from solar panels.
He used these same methods in 2015 to thrive on the face of El Capitan,
where for weeks-and in the heart of winter-he worked out the moves
on the Dawn Wall, the world's most challenging big wall free climb.
Today, six years after the Dawn Wall, Caldwell balances life with fatherhood,
business acumen, and work as a professional climber. He's
also an ambassador for Protect Our Winters (POW), where he lobbies
Congress and speaks publicly on environmental stewardship.
He applies that same ethos to the brands with which he chooses to
partner. This includes vetting speaking engagements and researching
the companies to make sure they align with his values before he
agrees to work with them. When he chooses sponsors, he does the
same. These include Patagonia, La Sportiva, and Edelrid-all leaders
in sustainable manufacturing. His relationship with Patagonia,
a company that puts environmental conservation over the volume of
sales, spans decades.
This coming winter, La Sportiva will release an updated version of
the ever-popular TC Pro, Caldwell's signature climbing shoe that he
used on the Dawn Wall, now made with eco-leather uppers and metalfree
tanning.
Caldwell is also a global team athlete with Edelrid, maker of Bluesigncertified
ropes that are made eco-friendly throughout the supply chain,
and of the new NEO 3R ropes constructed with 50% recycled fibers.
Additionally, Edelrid makes Bulletproof carabiners with virtually indestructible
steel baskets instead of disposable aluminum.
WHEN COVID-19 SHUT DOWN TRAVEL WORLDWIDE IN 2020,
Caldwell's annual trips to Europe, frequent flights to attend events, and
family van trips were gone. In response, he and his wife, Becca, homeschooled
their children, Ingrid (5) and Fitz (8), and took frequent trips
from their backyard into the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park
(RNP). Here, he shared with them the environmental-stewardship les40
OUTDOOR RETAILER / July 2021
Tommy Caldwell
sees being a pro
athlete as a chance
to support brands
that share his ethos.
sons he had learned from his work with POW. During electric cargobike
rides in RNP, he has his kids draw flowers they identify instead of
picking them.
One story he shares with the kids is of the lone wolf he spotted during
his visit to the sprawling 19.6 million-acre Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge in Alaska in early 2020. He visited the vast area of snowcapped
peaks containing polar bears and caribou to help raise awareness and
protect the area from oil and gas drilling. During that trip, he spotted
a wolf merely 10 feet away from him in the Jargo River Valley, and he
became mesmerized by the animal's calmness. He and photographer
Austin Siadak stood motionless and waited as the wolf gazed at them,
then slowly backed away and ran off. At that moment, Siadak snapped
what Caldwell describes as a magnificent photo. That shot, blown up
and framed, now stands as the centerpiece of his home, and he's been
lobbying and doing his best to preserve the place ever since.
" We look at that picture every day, and we talk to the kids about the
wolf, " Caldwell says. " We really care about the wolf, " they tell him. " And
we don't want to see it harmed. " O.R.
Courtesy Martin Poetter
https://www.instagram.com/tommycaldwell/ https://protectourwinters.org/

Outdoor Retailer - July 2021

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