Der amerikanische Profikletterer Tommy Caldwell gehört zu den stärksten Athleten der Welt und sorgte mit der Begehung der Nose am El Capitan sowie der Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonien für Aufsehen. Spätestens mit der Begehung der wohl schwierigsten Big-Wall-Route der Welt, The Dawn Wall, erlangte er weltweite Bekanntheit. Tommy engagiert sich stark in der globalen Klima-Debatte und ist entsprechend sorgfältig in der Wahl seiner Sponsoren. LACRUX hat mit Tommy über das Thema Nachaltigkeit und seine Botschafterrolle als Profiathlet gesprochen.

Ein Interview mit Tommy Caldwell – Botschafter des Bergsportausrüsters Edelrid

In 2014 you did the historical ascent of the Fitz Roy Traverse, in 2015 another historical ascent of climbing The Dawn Wall. What’s next?
Climbing seems to have unintentionally taken a back burner to other opportunities that have come up lately. I wrote a book and have been doing tons of events surrounding movies, festivals, and doing my best to be a good family man. I also spend a fair amount of time advocating for climate change solutions. I miss climbing however and recently found another pretty extraordinary  looking free climb on El Cap. I’ll return there this fall and have a go.

You are father of two little kids. How did they change your life?
The main change is probably the way that I spend my time. Kids now come first. It makes time management tricky, but the motivation to do what’s right and life with passion is bigger than ever. I also tend to pick climbing objectives that I am relatively certain I will live through these days. In the future this will likely mean more time on good rock and less on snow.

Tommy Caldwell mit dem Swift Eco Dry. (Bild Edelrid/Martin Pötter)

Did they change the way of how you think about the future, topics like climate change and sustainability?
Absolutely! Before having kids I tended to think my interactions with the world in terms of my lifespan. Since having kids I consider not only there futures but the future of all humans. So I spend a lot of good chunk of my time considering impact and working to get people to vote for representatives that will work to protect.

There are many rope and climbing product companies out there. How come you are ambassador of the German company Edelrid with its headquarter in the little town of Isny im Allgäu?
My relationship with Edelrid started with my good friend Carsten Von Birckhahn. He was the brand manager for Edelrid and had an incredible vision for a company based in sustainability and innovation. I felt that by working with Edelrid I would have the opportunity to build products that changed the way we moved in the mountains, but also to show the industry that we could do less harm in production.

Fakten zu Edelrid

  • 60% Made in Germany
    Heute werden über 60 % des Umsatzes von Edelrid mit Produkten „Made in Germany“ erwirtschaftet. Für Edelrid ist „Made in Germany“ nicht nur ein Slogan, sondern ein Bekenntnis zur Marke sowie zum Produktionsstandort Deutschland.
  • 38% der Produkte sind Bluedesign zertifiziert
    Das Bluesign-System ist der strengste Umweltstandard für die Produktion von textilen Produkten. Anstatt nur das fertige Produkt zu betrachten, überprüft das Bluesign-System die vorgelagerten Produktionsprozesse aller verarbeiteten Komponenten eines Produktes.
  • 100% PFC-frei
    Seit 2018 produziert und vertreibt Edelrid die weltweit ersten Seile mit einer PFC-freien Beschichtung. Mit der Eco-Dry-Veredelungstechnologie ist es Edelrid gelungen, ein Verfahren zu entwickeln, das zu 100% PFC-frei ist und dabei den Hochleistungs-PFCs in nichts nachsteht.
  • 90% Biobaumwolle
    In der Bekleidungskollektion setzt Edelrid auf zertifizierte Biobaumwolle, die fair produziert wird. Sie wird unter strengen ökologischen Auflagen hergestellt – ohne chemische Düngemittel, ohne Pestizide und mit einem geringeren Wasserverbrauch als bei herkömmlichen Anbau-Methoden. Gentechnik ist ebenfalls tabu.

Mehr über das Engagement von Edelrid erfahren

For you, personally, what’s the difference between Edelrid and other brands?
I prefer to work with family owned brands that have a primary focus on sustainability. The other climbing gear and rope manufactures are miles behind Edelrid on this way.

What’s your favorite Edelrid product?
These days I am really enjoying the Canary rope. Its light, handles well and has a high sheath proportion which makes it last much longer. Although, there are some pretty amazing products in development that I can’t wait to start testing.

Edelrid Swift Eco Dry 8.9


Ein weiteres Highlight unter den Edelrid-Seilen ist das Swift Eco Dry. Beim Swift Eco Dry handelt es sich um das erste PFC-freie Seil am Markt, das dank seiner speziellen Behandlung den UIAA-Standard für wasserabweisende Seile erfüllt. Mehr Nachhaltigkeit geht nicht. Mehr erfahren.

You are a member of Protect our winters (POW), a nonprofit organization who unites outdoor people and raises its voice for a political change. How do you define/see your role in this nonprofit specifically and in society generally concerning the climate change discussion?
I like Yvon Chouinard’s quote here. As our fearless leader at Patagonia, “When you have the opportunity and the ability to do good and you do nothing, that’s evil.” I understand at some level that I have a voice that people will listen to. I believe climate change is threatening the future for my children and for all life on Earth. It’s hard to imagine a cause more noble than that. POW educates outdoor people and gives them a platform for change. 80 percent of climate change effect can be dictated by policy change. My job is to amplify POW’s stance and therefore do my part to save humanity.

5700’000 people follow you on Instagram, 99’000 on Facebook. Your voice counts for many people. Are you soaked in sweat every time before publishing a post?
I am relatively used being a public person. In general I believe people are good, so as long as I am doing what feels true and genuine I don’t sweat how big my audience is.


Ausgewählte Begehung von Tommy Caldwell
2005 climbing The Nose on El Capitan
2014 Feb: Fitz Roy Traverse
2015 Jan: Ascent of the Dawn Wall
2018: Speed record of The Nose

What do you tell people who are blaming you for travelling, including flying, a lot as a professional athlete and therefore doing no good for the planet?
I would counter with questioning the “doing no good” part. Everyone has to decide what their role is in the climate change fight. We should all fight to reduce our consumption, but those of us that are the messengers have to travel for our voices to be heard.  Here is a great quote.

“Of course we all use fossil fuels, and people in the northern States of the United States wore cloths made of cotton picked by slaves. But that did not make them hypocrites when they joined the abolition movement. It just meant thy were also part of the slave economy, and they knew it. That is why they acted to change the system, Not just their clothes.”

As a professional athlete you are travelling more than most of the people, which is not the best for the climate. How do you – on a daily basis – make sure your footprint is not too big?
In truth my carbon footprint is quite heavy due to my travel. I buy offsets even though I know it is a flawed system because I believe that it must do at least some good.  I have also systematically started to make lifestyle changes that will reduce my consumption. I eat vegetarian. My home operates primarily of solar. I reduce my travel when possible and commute by bike as much as possible when home. I audit my trash. I spend a large percentage of my time these days fighting for climate change policy and lobby to get the leaders in office that will make good policy. I work for and buy from companies that strive to find climate solutions.

Auch sein Nachwuchs engagiert sich für das Klima

How can climbers in particular try to do better, concerning their impact on our environment?
They can follow the examples of people like Alex Honnold and myself. They can live simply of less and learn to love their local climbing areas. And they can work to get people into public office that pay attention to the climate crisis.

Trailer zum Film über die Begehung der Big-Wall-Route The Dawn Wall durch Tommy Caldwell und Kevin Jorgeson

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Credits: Bildmaterial Edelrid & Red Bull Content Pool

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