INNOVATION + LEADERSHIP presents Rock Climber Tommy Caldwell

The Music Hall's Innovation and Leadership series will present the legendary rock climber Tommy Caldwell, on Friday, May 19, 2017. Caldwell, the first person to free-climb the Dawn Wall of Yosemite's El Capitan, will discuss his recently-released memoir, THE PUSH: A Climber's Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond the Limits. The book chronicles his exhilarating and odds-defying journey to becoming one of the world's greatest athletes. In the vein of adventure memoirs (such as Cheryl Strayed's Wild) and fascinating sports narratives (such as Christopher McDougall's Born to Run),THE PUSH is an arresting account of navigating challenges, testing limits, and following your passion-and a powerful reminder of the extraordinary potential we all hold within us.

The 7pm event includes an author A/V presentation and moderated Q+A, plus post-event book signing and meet-and-greet. It will be held at The Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress Street, in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

"Tommy Caldwell's memoir is truly inspirational," says Alexis Hahalis, a rock climber and the evening's moderator. "He draws from his life experiences as a climber, adventurer, husband, and human to shed light on what it took for him to accomplish a feat that was once-considered impossible. I am eager to talk to him about his life and his climbs and to share the story of his success."


"As smooth as alabaster, as steep as a bedroom wall, more than half a mile tall." This is how a New York Times reporter described Yosemite National Park's nearly vertical 3,000-foot down Dawn Wall, which is widely regarded as rock climbing's greatest challenge. On January 14th, 2015, the nineteenth day of an arduous ascent, Tommy Caldwell, along with his partner Kevin Jorgeson, were the first to summit the infamous slab of granite without the assistance of ropes, other than to catch their falls. Caldwell proved possible what was long considered impossible, and his feat was the culmination of an entire lifetime of pushing himself to his physical, emotional, and spiritual limits.

Wearing a homemade harness consisting of seat belts, Tommy Caldwell was three years old when he made his first roped climb with his father-a former bodybuilder and mountain guide. At seventeen, Caldwell entered climbing's preeminent national competition as an amateur and won. In 2014, he was named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year. But his meteoric rise and early successes were met with debilitating setbacks. While climbing the Pamir-Alai range in Kyrgyzstan, Caldwell and three others were held hostage by militants for six harrowing days, only to escape after he pushed an armed guard over a cliff. Shortly thereafter Caldwell severed an index finger during a construction project; his doctor's advised him to find another career. Later, his wife and main climbing partner abruptly left him. Looking to emerge from The Shadows of these devastating hardships, Caldwell fittingly set his eyes on The Dawn Wall, which was named so because it's the first surface of the mountain to catch sunlight. Caldwell's epic ascent was seven years in the making, during which time he redefined the sport, rediscovered love, and became a father.

THE PUSH invites readers to join Caldwell on his unbelievable adventures, from Colorado and California to Bolivia, Chamonix, and Patagonia, through injuries and moments of self-doubt to each of his incredible accomplishments as a climber. A free climb is a puzzle, and it takes a fascinating amount of precision (and trial and error) to find the perfect move to carry you up the wall. As Caldwell puts it, "The wall exists like a canvas, and it is your vision, ability, and creativity that turn it into a route." Don't miss this special evening with the legendary rock climber as he discusses his breathtaking memoir THE PUSH: A Climber's Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond the Limits.


Tommy Caldwell grew up in Colorado. He has made dozens of notable ascents, and many consider him the best all-around rock climber in the world. In 2014 he was chosen as one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year, and in 2015 the American Alpine Club awarded him Lifetime Honorary Membership, its highest honor. Caldwell, a frequent contributor to Alpinist, Climbing, and Rock and Ice magazines, lives in the town where he first learned to climb, Estes Park, Colorado, with his wife and their son and daughter.


Alexis Hahalis is a passionate rock climber and has climbed all across New Hampshire, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Kentucky and Colorado. Two of her most memorable ascents were "The Edge of Time" in Estes Park, Colorado and "Olive Oil" in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. She is a graduate of Temple University, where she studied Tourism and Hospitality Management. Alexis began her career in Santa Cruz and Berkeley, California; she is is now Membership Coordinator at The Music Hall. She and her husband live on the Seacoast, where they enjoy NH's natural splendors with their four-year-old Boston Terrier, Nixon.


The ticket package for Writers in the Loft: Tommy Caldwell on Friday, May 19 at 7pm is $41 ($39, members). In addition to a reserved seat, the package includes a copy of THE PUSH: A Climber's Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits ($27, hardcover), a bar beverage, and book signing meet-and-greet. Packages can be purchased online at, over the phone at 603.436.2400 or in person at the B2W Box Office at the Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut Street.

About Innovation and Leadership

In this Age of Participation, The Music Hall has expanded its programming to focus on issues critical to our time. The Innovation and Leadership series was first launched nearly five years ago to serve our local business community, bringing together the best and the brightest in technology. The series has since broadened to showcase opinion leaders, authors and all variety of educators, and to serve audiences from a tri-state region and beyond - all who are interested in bettering the worlds they live in, at work and at home, locally and around the world. These lively and informative conversations feature experts in their field sharing experiences and providing participants practical tools for making meaningful advances in their lives. From demonstrations in the art of all things digital to special forums featuring regional and global leaders in sustainability, from book discussion-demonstrations on the positive effect of meditation to awareness-raising events led by today's champions in philanthropy, feminism and family matters, each Innovation and Leadership event is memorable and impactful. The Music Hall is committed to community building and personal flourishing. Our Innovation and Leadership series delivers on that commitment.

About the Music Hall

The Music Hall is a performing arts center featuring curated entertainment from around the world in two theaters in its downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire campus - one, a landmark 1878 Victorian theater, designated an American Treasure for the Arts by the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures Program, the other the intimate Music Hall Loft around the corner, recently named "best performing arts venue" by Yankee Magazine and the recipient of the NH AIA award for design excellence.

With acclaimed signature series including Writers on a New England Stage - a partnership between The Music Hall and New Hampshire Public Radio - and the Intimately Yours music series, we bring top authors and artists to both stages. Also, HD broadcasts from The Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre of London as well as extraordinary cinema fill both screens almost every night of the year.

This dynamic arts center urges patrons to Explore + Learn via master classes, post film panel discussions, and matinees for children. An anchor organization in this historic working seaport, The Music Hall is one of downtown Portsmouth's biggest employers and largest contributors to the regional economy: The Music Hall and its patrons contribute $7.1 million annually to the local economy through show and visitor related spending.

Innovative in its outlook, the organization is community oriented and committed to making the Seacoast flourish. The Music Hall is a 501(c)3 nonprofit managed by a professional staff with the assistance of a volunteer board. Though global in the scope of its artists and programs, The Music Hall operates independently with the support of 3,000 members, 300 corporate partners and 58 community partner organizations. Welcoming more than 100,000 patrons (including 20,000 children) each year from the tri-state area and beyond, The Music Hall is the region's center for the performing arts, literature and education...easy to get to, impossible to forget.

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