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The World’s Biggest Daredevils Need Help Facing Their Trauma

A new documentary from the Climbing Grief Fund is raising awareness to help guide adventurers through despair.

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Tommy Caldwell has been kidnapped, divorced, and once sawed off his own finger. Still, says the Estes Park-based climber, “I never let myself go to those dark places.” The idea that you have to compartmentalize to climb well isn’t unheard of, according to Madaleine Sorkin, founder of the Climbing Grief Fund (CGF). But unaddressed pain rarely encourages a happier life. The CGF, started in 2018 as part of Golden’s American Alpine Club, sets climbers on a better route with an online directory of mental health professionals who understand the sport. Climbers, alpinists, and ski mountaineers facing trauma can apply for a $600 grant for mental health services (all 15 have been claimed this year; the CGF will offer more in 2021). To attract donations, the CGF will unveil a free 22-minute documentary from July 7 to 20. A Thousand Ways To Kiss the Ground, directed by Henna Taylor, features interviews with Caldwell, Alex Honnold, and other climbing stars to help spread awareness about mental health needs in the community.

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