"I was sad to feel I've slipped from my peak" – has Tommy Caldwell finally come back down to earth?

El Capitan in Yosemite
The climber revealed failure to send on El Cap this week (Image credit: Amanda A / FOAP)

When Tommy Caldwell finally completed the first free climb of the Dawn Wall in 2015, it wrote him into the history books as one of climbing's all-time greatest. He's often described as "superhuman" – but a recent return to El Capitan may be an indication that even the most legendary big wall climbers eventually return to earth.

On Tuesday, October 25, Caldwell posted on Instagram that he and Alex Honnold, of Free Solo fame, had spent three days on the Heart Route in Yosemite, which entails 31 pitches of 5.10 - 5.13 climbing including a nine foot down dyno move. 

Needless to say, Honnold sent the route, but Caldwell revealed that, despite setting the sub two-hour record on The Nose as a duo with Honnold just five years ago, he was unable to send this time.

"Alex is so impressive and fun (to) climb with up there. He pretty much hiked everything, while I struggled to keep up," he wrote, adding: "I was a bit sad to feel like I have slipped from my peak up there."

Then again, Caldwell also noted that he's still recovering from an injury (he ruptured his Achilles tendon last year, requiring surgery) so perhaps this is just a blip in an otherwise perfect 20-year career.

Either way, his supporters were quick to jump in and lend words of encouragement, with one commenter writing, "It's not always about sending but coming back to your loved ones after living a good life experience."

The dynamic climbing duo have recently made headlines by trading their climbing shoes for wheels and biking 2,000 miles from Colorado to Alaska, which Caldwell also revealed in the post has been documented for an upcoming special on NatGeo TV, news that's sure to delight climbing fans.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.