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Climber In 'Dawn Wall' Documentary Got His Start In Estes Park

By Jeff Todd

ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) - When Tommy Caldwell was just a kid, he started climbing rocks around Estes Park.

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(credit: CBS)

He never thought he would become a movie star, but the documentary about his life and his monumental climb of The Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is gaining in popularity.

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Tommy Caldwell (credit: CBS)

"People just really connect with this story. This movie is one that you get up and cheer at. Almost every showing I go to gets huge standing ovations because it just makes you feel so good," said Caldwell.

The Dawn Wall premiered on Sept. 19 nationwide, but was only expecting a one-night run.

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(credit: CBS)

Now the movie is making encore appearances around the country and Colorado. The Century Theatre in Boulder will run The Dawn Wall through Oct. 14. The Dairy Arts Center in Boulder will have show times from Oct. 19-25.

"Most big rock climbs follow distinct crack systems, this one doesn't. It just looks like you're climbing up a blank piece of glass that is 3,000 feet tall," Caldwell said.

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(credit: Red Bull Media House)

He spent seven years planning the route and training.

"It's probably like learning a language. You just learn every little intricacy of every move and body position," he said.

The climb, with partner Kevin Jorgeson, took 19 days ending Jan. 14, 2015. But the documentary takes a deeper dive into Caldwell's life.

"Non-climbers really love this film because it's a super positive story, and it has all these underlying values like brotherhood, going for this big dream and adventure and overcoming adversity because that's kind of the story of my life. I went through some hard stuff when I was young and that led me to be able to live every day to its fullest," Caldwell said.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he's been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.

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