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Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden Climbing in Canada

This short film was released 20 years ago. It documents a trip to the Lotus Flower Tower in the Northwest Territories

In 2003, Beth Rodden, Tommy Caldwell, Arnaud Petit and Stephanie Bodet visited the Cirque of the Unclimbables in the Northwest Territories. This short film by Benoît Robert documents their trip.

After 15 days in a tent, the weather cleared enough for them to climb the 18-pitch Lotus Flower Tower. Caldwell recalled parts of this trip in his book The Push, explaining that Rodden had been dealing with trauma from being kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan and had an injured foot.  Caldwell wrote, “The rock seemed sent from the heavens, stretching toward the sky. I wanted to scream with joy. Beth barely spoke.”

The first ascent of the route was by James P. McCarthy, Tom Frost, Harthon (Sandy) Bill in 1968. The first free ascent was by Steve Levin, Mark Robinson and Sandy Stewart in 1977. The route is graded 5.11a, but the 16th pitch is more reported to be hard 5.11 and most people pull on gear. It’s one of Canada’s most sought-after remote granite alpine rock routes.

Caldwell continued to return to Canada for projects over the next two decades. He repeated hard routes in Squamish, made the first ascent of The Shining on Mount Louis and spoke at the Banff Film Festival. He’s currently an ambassador of Patagonia and partner of Edelrid North America. Rodden was one of the world’s best crack climbers in the early 2000s. In 2022, an insightful and moving film about her life called This is Beth was released, watch it here.

Lotus Flower Tower 2003