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Teaching adventure

The man who made one of the scariest free ascents talks fatherhood.

Teaching adventure

Tommy Caldwell is a world famous rock climber and father of toddler, Fitz. He is celebrated for being fearless, some would say insanely so, having completed ascents of some of the most difficult climbs in the world. Caldwell was nominated Adventurer of the Year twice by National Geographic; most recently for the death-defying feat of completing the first free ascent (climbing without equipment) of The Dawn Wall in Yosemite’s El Capitan.

Tommy Caldwell and climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson complete “the hardest completed rock climb in the world”. Image: Peter Stevens

Tommy Caldwell and climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson complete “the hardest completed rock climb in the world”.
Image: Peter Stevens

 

An adventurous nature runs in the Caldwell family, Tommy’s father was a mountain guide who took Tommy with him on long treks deep in the mountains from a very early age. On one occasion he recalls hunkering down in a snow cave during a blizzard with his father, at the tender age of 2 and a half no less.

Caldwell and his father. "This picture was taken on my 8th birthday when you first took me up the north face of Long's Peak." Image: Tommy Caldwell/Facebook

Caldwell and his father. “This picture was taken on my 8th birthday when you first took me up the north face of Long’s Peak.” Image: Tommy Caldwell/Facebook

 

Despite potential criticism of his father for putting Tommy through extreme situations, he contends that this was a great education in adventure with safety. He uses his experience to “analyse and manage the risks” he takes. He also takes this tack with approaching the learning experience of his son Fitz, telling Fatherly: “I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the fear side of it, but I do think about how can we make it safe?” He suggests teaching children to be adventurous is about teaching respect for boundaries and adapting or being responsive to the environment, rather than adapting the environment to make the child safe. “Prepare him for the path, not prepare the path for him.”

“I just want Fitz to think the world is an awesome freakin’ place,” he told Fatherly

And a little fun sliding down rocks! #woohoofitz

A photo posted by Rebecca Caldwell (@beccajcaldwell) on

Fitz was raging on the boulders in Tuolumne today!! Total crusher. Mama and daddy were quite proud! #woohoofitz A photo posted by Rebecca Caldwell (@beccajcaldwell) on

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