TOMMY CALDWELL AND LA SPORTIVA: A TWENTY-YEAR ADVENTURE

For the first time, the climbing legend visited the Ziano di Fiemme headquarters and shared his story, surrounded by athletes, climbing walls and shoes

TOMMY CALDWELL AND LA SPORTIVA: A TWENTY-YEAR ADVENTURE

 "Meeting the La Sportiva family in the Val di Fiemme was an amazing experience. It warmed my heart."

Tommy Caldwell

 

He has redefined the word "impossible". He is ranked among the best living climbers on the planet. He is missing most of his left index finger, which he cut off with a circular saw in 2001. In five days in 2014, alongside Alex Honnold, he achieved the first complete traverse of Mount Fitz Roy, one of the most stunning modern mountaineering achievements, for which he won the Piolet d'Or. In 2015, he completed the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, widely considered the hardest big wall in the world. A truly unique climber, he joined the La Sportiva family twenty years ago, becoming an Ambassador as he ascended towards the peak of his career.

The partnership has been going strong ever since, often held up as a prime example of collaboration between an athlete and a brand. The big climber par excellence, celebrated throughout the climbing world, Tommy Caldwell's first visit to the La Sportiva Headquarters was eagerly anticipated, representing an opportunity to immerse himself in both the brand and the Val di Fiemme. This autumn, after participating in the Trento Sport Festival, the famous climber visited the company in Ziano di Fiemme (Trentino, Dolomites), stepping foot inside the factory where the TC Pro – one of the most iconic climbing shoes – was born, a physical representation of the partnership between the athlete and La Sportiva.

 

 

"Throughout the last twenty years of my life, the Trentino brand has always been by my side. Then, about twelve years ago, they came to me with the idea of making my own signature shoe, the TC Pro. I honestly didn't have high expectations. I didn't know if it would work as a product. But it has been incredibly successful, especially in the United States, and I'm very proud that it bears my initials," explained Tommy Caldwell, walking between the production lines in the Val di Fiemme factory. "For me, La Sportiva has always represented the pinnacle of quality climbing shoes. If you want to be the best climber you can be, you have to wear La Sportiva climbing shoes." During his company visit, Caldwell was met with a warm welcome from Pietro Dal Prà, the Delladio family, the Research and Development team, and the rest of the employees. "When we started developing the TC Pro, we were sending documents back and forth over the internet, and I could not wrap my head around how the liners were actually made. Visiting the company and being able to actually touch the shoes throughout the assembly process was an exciting experience. As a climber, delivering the best possible performance means paying attention to every detail, right down to the design of the liners, and La Sportiva follows a similar philosophy, which is how we were able to create the TC Pro. I am delighted to have been part of the development of these shoes, which have become a staple for so many climbers."

 

The TC Pro was born from the passion of professionals who have devoted themselves, body and soul, to the climbing community for many years, handing down their enthusiasm for climbing and a life spent in nature to the next generations, guided by a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of outdoor enthusiasts. Listening and building sincere, personal and long-term relationships with athletes are fundamental elements of the brand's DNA, allowing it to stay focused on the future.

 

 

The event dedicated to Caldwell enjoyed an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. "My visit to the La Sportiva headquarters was really exciting. It was a dream come true. I felt like I was part of the family, and I was enraptured by the beauty of the Val di Fiemme. I was particularly struck by the laid-back and enthusiastic attitude of the people who work for the brand. They are so genuine and authentic, and you can tell they are real outdoor enthusiasts. I was really impressed by the factory tour, from the quality of the materials to the attention to detail I saw throughout the production process," the climber noted. In the Val di Fiemme, Tommy Caldwell was in his element, surrounded by like-minded people with many shared values. During his visit, there were plenty of opportunities for fun: sampling local products, celebrating, laughing and spending time together.

 

Tommy Caldwell was also the guest of honour for a special evening at the Tesero cinema, organised in collaboration with Banff, for employees and friends of the La Sportiva family. After the film screening, he gave a speech and took photos with the attendees, who seized the opportunity to meet and shake hands with their hero. Later, making the most of the beautiful sunny weather, Caldwell took part in the Athletes Meeting in Sadole, Val di Fiemme, together with other climbers from La Sportiva. These kind of meetings are a rare opportunity for the team Ambassadors to share their own exciting moments and discuss ideas for upcoming projects. "There are so many La Sportiva athletes who I really admire and who I've always wanted to meet but never had the chance, so the Athletes Meeting was an incredible opportunity to spend an amazing few days together," said Tommy Caldwell. The climber is also known around the world for his charisma, humility and sportsmanship, as well as his innate affinity with the most challenging walls on Earth: "Travelling and meeting so many people who ask me to sign their TC Pros tells me a lot about how the climbing community sees me as a climber. The biggest lesson I have learned in my 35+ years of climbing is that you should always listen to the people around you. When you are younger, you should absorb as much as knowledge as you can from other people, and down the line, you should try to pass on your passion and knowledge to the next generations. Building friendships and sharing my love for this world are the most important values I have brought home from my travels."

 

 

 

 

About Tommy Caldwell

 

"Tommy is probably the greatest big wall climber in the world."

Alex Honnold

 

For Caldwell, the most difficult routes, where the odds of success are slim, are a lesson waiting to be learnt. Combining remarkable talent, incredible determination and a strong mindset, Tommy Caldwell made his way to the top of the international climbing world in just a few years, constantly raising the bar. The American climber lives in Colorado with his second wife Rebecca and their two children, Fitz and Ingrid. His parents, both Alpine Guides, took him out to experience the immense walls of Yosemite at a very young age. He began working up through the grades and fell in love with big wall climbing, scaling difficult routes with incredible speed. In 2000, alongside three other climbers and future wife Beth Rodden, he took part in an expedition to Kyrgyzstan, during which they were kidnapped by rebels. After six days as hostages, they manage to escape: Caldwell pushed their guard into a ravine and they were rescued. Since 2002 he has been climbing the hardest routes in Yosemite: Salathé, Lurking Fear, West Buttress, Muir Wall, Zodiac, Dihedral Wall, Magic Mushroom. In 2005, he scaled The Nose and Freerider in just 23 hours and 23 minutes. In 2006, in Patagonia, he climbed the Linea di Eleganza on Mount Fitz Roy with Topher Donahue and Erik Roed. In five days in 2014, alongside Alex Honnold, he achieved the first complete traverse of Mount Fitz Roy, for which he won the Piolet d'Or. Subsequently, he decided to devote himself to a project that had previously been deemed impossible, which he himself described as "the craziest thing I've ever experienced." The Dawn Wall: 1000 metres of wall and 32 pitches, of which the two cruxes are rated 9a. Preparing for this staggering climb took seven years. In 2015, after 19 days on the wall with Kevin Jorgeson, he reached his goal. In 2018, the film entitled The Dawn Wall was released, chronicling the life of Tommy Caldwell. In the same year, the climber joined forces with Alex Honnold to speed climb The Nose, achieving an exceptional record time of one hour 58 minutes and seven seconds.

 

 

Author: Marta Manzoni

Photos: Matteo Pavana

 

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