| Tommy Caldwell
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Words By Fitz Caldwell (Interviewed By His Dad)
Tommy: Do you remember this day going climbing with Austin?
Fitz: It was scary!
T: Tell me about your day.
F: Some of the parts were, one of the parts was scary. And the rest of the parts I just got up so fast.
T: Do you remember what it was like when we started?
F: A crack?
T: We climbed up a big crack. And were there other people there?
T: Do you remember how many pitches the climb was?
F: Um, 50?
T: Fifty pitches! No.
Photo: Austin Siadak.
T: Five. And do you remember the name of the climb.
T: Sun …
F: Sun … Sunnyside Bench?
T: Sunnyside Bench, good job! Okay, walk me through it. Just start at the bottom and tell me all the details you can remember going up.
F: Look, I made a circle! Daddy, don’t put your arm there. Well … um. I saw lots of people and the first group of people we saw. And then not so much at the second. Like two.
T: Explain to me what the rock felt like?
F: It was hard and fun. It was hard and easy.
Becca: What parts were easy?
F: Well, pretty much all the parts except the crack.
B: What was hard about the crack?
F: Well, it got too hard. I couldn’t even get up.
B: What was happening.
F: I got stuck!
B: How did you get stuck? Were your feet slipping?
F: I was stuck inside the crack.
T: What happened when we got most of the way up, when you got stuck? What did you feel like inside?
F: Um, well … I just felt stuck.
Photo: Austin Siadak.
T: And then what started to happen.
F: I cried.
T: Yeah, you cried a little bit.
F: Because I was like, ooww.
T: And then what did we do to try and comfort you?
F: Lift me over?
T: What happened before that? Austin, remember Austin, he held you and tried to comfort you for a while and then Mommy was down in the valley.
Ingrid: And I was with Mommy.
T: And you were with Mommy. And Mommy yelled up, “You’re doing great, Fitzy,” but she was so far away that we couldn’t really see her. Remember that? And so you got scared, but then you got through the hard part of pitch four.
B: How did you get through it?
F: Daddy lifted me across from the crack over to the easy part.
T: So what happened when you saw the top? You gotta say it.
F: I was climbing so fast then, and when I saw the top I was at like such a speed, Daddy couldn’t even catch up.
T: That’s right, that’s totally true. And then when you got to the top, how did you feel?
F: Better, way better, way better. Way way way way way way way way way way better.
T: The way I remember it, you were so excited you didn’t stop talking about it for like half a day.
B: Did you feel proud of yourself?
B: Do you think if you wouldn’t have had that hard part … do you think it would have been as fun getting to the top? Or do you think the hard part made the top feel even better?
F: The hard part made the top feel even better.
Banner image – Photo: Austin Siadak.
Climbing has always been more than just a sport. It’s provided a way of life and a makeshift family to misfits who share a calling. As the sport grapples with its growing popularity, the people who anchor its core and community have more responsibility than ever.