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Tommy Caldwell speaking with climbers at the MEC Vancouver bouldering wall

We spent 3 days with Tommy Caldwell (yes, it was awesome)

May 9, 2022

Found in Community news, Stories, Activities

We were pretty dang excited to welcome Tommy Caldwell and the Edelrid crew to BC for a jam-packed few days of activities. Judging by the massive line-up outside our Vancouver store, the MEC community was pumped too.

So what do you get up to when a climbing legend comes to town? You CUDDLE, talk climbing gear and hit Electric Avenue. A massive thank you to Tommy and Edelrid for a fun time with MEC members and staffers – check out the highlights below.

Day 1: sold-out event

A full house! The evening talk with Tommy sold out in a record-breaking 16 hours. It was great to welcome the climbing community to our store, and all event proceeds went to the Climbers’ Access Society of British Columbia$4,136 in total.

MEC Vancouver store with a long line up going around the store

CUDDLE film screening

Attendees got to see Tommy Caldwell’s latest film CUDDLE, which covered his latest adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park with Alex Honnold and Adam Stack.

Tommy told us that it was the first time on film that he’s “truly getting his ass kicked”. Somehow, they managed laughs between a missed resupply, a serious lack of pants, climbing exposed terrain by phone flashlight overnight, and plenty of gut-wrenching hours.

Here's the preview to give you a sense (the full film is currently available on Reel Rock):

Tommy Caldwell on stage in front of a crowd at the MEC Vancouver store

During the Q&A session, Tommy weighed in all kinds of topics: weather in the Rockies, environmental advocacy, testing the heck out of products, a 6mm simul-climbing system (for the record, not tested, not approved, not recommended), bringing kids on adventures, risk assessment, and most importantly, the snacks Adam Stack rescued them with during the CDUL (answer: enormous burritos).

Local climbing groups chatting with people at the MEC Vancouver event

Huge thanks to local groups that joined us: Vancouver Climbers Association, BelayAll, Protect Our Winters Canada (POW Canada) and the Climbers’ Access Society of BC.

Tommy shared how he likes to support at least three non-profits at a time, including the POW Climb athlete alliance. “They’re doing great work on policy to make a real difference for climate change.” We highly recommend checking out POW Canada or your local climbing group – protecting access and the environment keeps crags, cliffs and climbing areas going.

Tommy Caldwell signing a chalk bag for a young climber

There was plenty of time to say hi, snap a pic, and get gear or books signed. An enormous stack of raffle prizes from Edelrid’s Climb Green collection rounded out the night, and the grand prize was a morning climbing session with Tommy the next day. Nice!

Day 2: rise and climb

Bright and early the next day, raffle winners joined Tommy and folks from Edelrid, MEC Label, The Hive, POW Canada and the Vancouver Climbers’ Association at the store.

Edelrid and their team from Germany chatted about developing their Climb Green collection and the future of more sustainable climbing gear. They’re a leader in this space and are proof that sustainability doesn’t mean compromising safety or performance. Recycled rope, PFC-free dry-treated ropes, and bluesign®-approved harnesses are just a few of the wins. Plus, they hinted at a major announcement for 2023.

Two climbers looking at a climbing rope display

Coffee, carbs and crushing to start the day. Yep, MEC Vancouver has a bouldering wall – stay tuned for future invites to join us.

Young climber bouldering at the MEC Vancouver store
Climber bouldering at the MEC Vancouver store

Day 3: Squamish climb session

To round out the visit, Edelrid, Tommy and MEC staffers went to Squamish for an experiential product knowledge session. We were lucky to have three people from Edelrid Germany – the CEO and owner, head of product, and global sales manager.

Product knowledge sessions (a.k.a. PKs) are one of the ways staffers get experience with gear. “Everyone was very excited to get an informal PK where you get to try and use the products in the field, and learn directly from the Edelrid team,” said Graham, MEC staffer and climbing product expert.

“One of the things that Edelrid developer spoke about is how they focus on the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) when creating products,” Graham shared. “He emphasized how important reduce and reuse are, and that recycle is a last resort because the product is already made and therefore energy intensive.”

“We spent the whole day at the Electric Avenue crag, and safety was a top priority with a hired guide and the experienced Edelrid crew giving everyone the attention and support they needed,” said Graham.

“There was a wide range of climbers and some big moments – we even had a staffer climb their first route ever (ever ever) belayed by Tommy Caldwell… not many people can say that.”

“Another staffer was coming back to climbing after a two-year hiatus, and found confidence and support from everyone,” Graham shared. “Someone else had a goal of leading a 5.10 and ended up leading (and sending) and least two of them. It was honestly just a great day to get people from stores and the office out together with a common interest.”

“Folks from the Vancouver MEC store were so happy to be there, and really sent the psyche and positivity levels through the roof.”

Thank you to Tommy, Edelrid, MEC staffers and members of the climbing community who came out to make these three days a blast. Let’s do it all again soon. For more photos from the event, check out our full Facebook album.

Like the sounds of being an MEC staffer? If you’re passionate about the outdoors – we’re hiring.

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