The Push: Tommy Caldwell Memoir - Comes out May 16


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 7, 2017 - 07:48am PT
From Tommy's Facebook:

I spent much of the last two years of my life constructing, remodeling, obsessing, and pouring my heart out in an effort to build something lasting. It feels almost comical to have the fruits of those efforts show up in the mail as something that fits in one hand and is made of paper. Regardless, I couldn’t be more excited to announce the release of my memoir on May 16. I owe a huge thanks to so many people for helping bring this book to life. Most notably Kelly Cordes for walking with me on the journey, and to my beautiful family for putting up with my tendency to become engulfed in projects - I love you all. #THEPUSH

Ryan Tetz

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Apr 7, 2017 - 05:19pm PT
That's awesome. Looking forward to it!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 3, 2017 - 01:48pm PT
I just got my copy of Tommy Caldwell’s new book “The Push.” It’s a must read for climbers who want to understand how many of the most significant big wall free climbing accomplishments went down. But ever for non-climbers, it’s an adventure and travel tale full of the globe's most remote places, greatest climbing endurance achievements, and the story of getting captured by terrorists. You know, the usual stuff.

I started climbing El Cap back when aid climbing was cool. Free climbing on The Big Stone was in its infancy. When all that changed, and I watched big wall free climbing take off, I happily stepped to the side and took up other activities (Wingsuit BASE, Moto, Tahoe Redevelopment/Community Building, etc). But, I was lucky enough to get a front-row seat on some of Tommy’s awesome accomplishments as a “belayer to the stars.” (Aid climbing had taught me to jumar fast.)

I got to help out on some FFA’s in the Grand Canyon, belay for half of the first (and only?) free climb of The Nose and Freerider in a Day and, be a tiny part of The Dawn Wall free effort.

Back in 2009, the immediate prospects a Free Dawn Wall looked dim. Tommy had essentially figured out the hardest big wall free climb EVER by himself but didn’t have anyone to help work through the hardest sections. He thought it might be a 10-year process (it took another 7). So he let me publish a trip report about the route.

It’s interesting to read now because some things changed: then it was the Mescalito Free (it mostly follows Mescalito) but later became The Dawn Wall. That’s probably a good thing: the mainstream press explosion would have had a harder time wrapping its head around a name derived from Mescaline.

But many things from the trip Tommy accurately predicted: he did have to wait for a younger climber to get excited and join him, he did more or less guess the ratings of each pitch correctly, and the final route followed the line he figured out by 2009.

Below is a video that Corey Rich shot for Nikon on the 2009 mission. It highlights in just a few minutes the dedication it took to get to that point - and he still had 7 years to go! Truly one of the most dedicated big wall efforts of all time. And a truly inspiring story. Thanks for sharing, Tommy!

And the video we made with Corey Rich for Nikon


Social climber
Wise Acres
Jun 4, 2017 - 02:34pm PT

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 4, 2017 - 03:01pm PT
Part autobiography, part thriller (the kidnapping), part trip report (the Dawn Wall epic), part confessional (dissolution of his marriage), and withal a solid, at times captivating read for those interested in Tommy's mythical career.

My sense of it is TC had so many people and advisors weighing in on the structure and delivery and the writing itself that the personal style, voice and ethos found in some passages often gets smoothed over and a touch denatured in other parts owing to so many cooks at the keyboard - including several highly skilled ones, including Kelly Cordes. But the fluid, if homogenized tone stuck here and there probably works in Tommy's favor per the cross-over audience, who could care less about the fine points of rock climbing, but who always enjoy a Homeric epic.

I'd recommend The Push to any reader who enjoys adventure stories.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jun 5, 2017 - 08:21am PT
I'd like to see some more interest shown Tommy's effort on this very worthy project. If only others with great and historic stories to tell would pony up some books half as good as this one, we'd have a fine time passing those lonely nights.

Kindly buy the book and read it. I have no affiliation with Tommy or the book per se, but narrative adventure writing is going to go the way of blogs and tweets unless we support those busting a move.

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 5, 2017 - 10:56am PT
Well said, Largo. I just purchased my copy.

Tommy is one of the all-time great people as well as a great athlete. And he has an amazing story that extends beyond climbing.

Mountain climber
Tustin, CA
Jun 5, 2017 - 02:43pm PT
Bump bump

Jun 7, 2017 - 09:59am PT
I hope theres a chapter on when he shoved that guy off. Fascinating how people snap when put into those situations.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 7, 2017 - 10:10am PT
Bump, just updated my story above...

Grizzlyville, WY
Jun 9, 2017 - 10:57am PT
I just finished this book. Not only is TC an incredible climber (duh), but his writing is also better than most.

I found the flow of the book to be enjoyable and contain a good mix of thoughtfulness and technical detail. Often we see people at the top of their game to be something other than just a normal person. This book brought a lot of humanity to the public figure.

Trad climber
Jun 18, 2017 - 08:18pm PT
One of the best memoirs, period.

To the people always on the go struggling to find time to sit down and read a complete book, I cannot recommend the audio version of The Push, by Tommy Caldwell, enough. Anticipating that challenge myself, despite having a paper version on its way, I downloaded the audio version from audible. 13.5 hours of recording was finished in three days.

The book is painfully honest.

From all the reviews I read and heard, I expected nothing but honesty, but still it surprised me. To a genuine person, it is not too hard to honestly dissect the self and even be brutally critical of oneself. However, it takes a strong commitment to honesty to tell the truth about EVERYTHING, which includes other people involved. It takes courage not to gloss over details for fear of offending others, and it takes integrity to speak the truth regardless how that reflects on yourself or others around you.

For some readers out there, you might find the book sometimes painful to read -- that is, if you ever find yourself feeling hopelessly socially awkward and not knowing how to fit in and integrate, if you find yourself struggling to make sense of relationships be it with family, significant other, or even a climbing partner, if you have ever had the thought, no matter how brief and shameful, that walking off that diving board did not seem to be too horrible an idea, or if you have ever set a goal that seemed totally ridiculous and unrealistic ... you will identify yourself in the book. Now, who am I kidding. I am all of those "some readers" rolled into one. The fact that the book has a fairy tale ending -- everyone seems to have gotten what they wanted for life -- might just be the inspiration I need?

You, ya you!, could well be in a very good place in your life right now and cannot relate to any of that. Good for you! I don't know what kind of impact the book will have on you, but I suspect that the book has the power to touch some place deep in anyone's heart. That, is the power of raw honesty. Enjoy!

(clickable link)


Trad climber
The Circuit, Tonasket WA
Jul 12, 2017 - 07:33am PT
Just finished this book and I would like to take a few minutes to highly recommend it. As someone who has read every book on rock climbing that I could get my hands on in the last 60 years, I found this volume to be enjoyable, entertaining and insightful reading. Tommy Caldwell does an excellent job of telling the story of a momentous climb. Actually this book is an autobiographical collection of climbing stories, leading up to what, I believe, will be considered one of the defining climbs of this century.

But more than a well written account of challenging climbs, Caldwell provides a perceptive analysis of the human making the difficult moves. After all, it is Homo sapiens up there on these beautiful walls, and every climber carries with them their own psycho/social baggage of not only love, desire and motivation, but also doubt, fear, pain and physical limits. How the climbers of this great wall hauled and handled their emotional loads, while their fingertips were shredded by thin flakes and their shoe rubber were slipping on polished granite nubbins, is what makes this book such a fascinating read.

There are some who will consider this to be an important historical documentation of a significant climb. There are young climbers who will look at this volume as a training manual for their climbs of the future. And there is at least one old climber who found within these pages encouraging and motivational words to help accept the daily challenges of the ageing process.

Social climber
Apr 19, 2018 - 03:34pm PT
Bump for a great read. I'm about half way through and it is outstanding.

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Apr 19, 2018 - 04:47pm PT
Does the title THE PUSH, refer to the push to get up the Dawn Wall, or does it refer to the shove he gave to the terrorist, that he was so brutally honest about? I would never judge or dissect a person in that position, you don't know what you'd do unless you were there, feeling all the emotions that he was feeling. I am glad they both survived. Reminds me of the situation in TOUCHING THE VOID, those things are so hard to figure out.

It would be interesting to get Tommy and the recipient of the shove on camera together and share perceptions.
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