Yosemite’s Dawn Wall Ascent – [UPDATED] What you need to know


Most recently…

January 14th PM – It’s official folks. The Dawn Wall has been concurred. After over 7 years of preparation and 19 days on the wall, Tommy and Kevin have free climbed the hardest wall in the world – 5.14D.

January 14th – Today is the day. Both climbers will top out.

January 11th – REST DAY. Much deserved.

January 10th – Kevin scurries to reach Tommy’s position. He climbs through pitch 17.

January 9th, PM – Oh my gosh. He did it. Kevin has sent the 5.14d… the CRUX of the wall. We never lost hope Kevin. The two warriors battle on together. See the photos. Hear NPR interview Kevin and Tommy.

January 8th – Tommy has continued on. He finished the day off by topping out on Wino Tower. He plans to loop back to help his climbing partner Kevin on the hardest pitch of the climb. January 7th, PM – Tommy Cadwell has completed the most difficult section of the route! He calls the day ‘bittersweet’ as his partner, Kevin, calls it.  “Let’s all send Kevin good skin healing vibes.” Tommy said.

‘Dawn Wall’

Kevin Jorgeson (30) and Tommy Caldwell (36), are in the midst of doing the impossible. The iconic El Capitan is the superbowl of rock climbing. Looming over the Yosemite valley, it calls out to climbers near and far. Many ascents have been made of the giant boulder but of it’s 100 or so routes, the Dawn Wall is still considered to be somewhat untouched. It is one of the hardest walls to scale in the world. It is nearly flat vertical, only consisting of tiny cracks and ledges on what is otherwise a smooth glacier polished face. The route the two men are taking consists of 32 pitches, and they are trying to complete them all in succession.

Why is this so significant?

Many may be saying: “hasn’t this route already been climbed?” The answer is yes, assisted. What these two are trying to do is climb the entire route unassisted. Tommy and Kevin are ‘free-climbing’ this route. In free climbing, the climbers uses their hardware (cams, nuts, bolts, harnesses, ropes, ect…) only to protect them during a fall. Each pitch is attempted until it is completed in one straight shot. This ascent of the ‘Dawn Wall’ is the hardest free climb route ever attempted.

Why are they climbing so much at night? It’s winter!

Being such a hard route, it is only possible with every possible advantage. The weather conditions being one. “It’s the most chapping environment in the world up here,” said Tommy. “Windy. Cold. Super dry. We’re grabbing razor blades. I wake up twice a night and reapply lotion to my hands. We sand our fingertips to keep them smooth. We sand our shoe rubber. … I’m not usually a very anal person, but I’ve gotten really dialed in on this route and analyzed everything. Skin care is part of it.” Though it’s winter, it’s still too hot for the 5.14 pitches. The direct California sun is too harsh. Tommy and Kevin need to wait until the pitch goes into the shadeso the temperatures drop to 30 and 40 degrees. “We haven’t had too many problems with numb fingers,” Tommy said. “There are a lot of opportunities to find stances to warm your fingers up. It’s amazing how much better these holds feel when the conditions are good.”

Tommy’s drawn route diagram. Image from ‘Rock and Ice’

More back story on the ‘Dawn Wall’

Other media

Make sure to check out local photographer Tom Evan‘s nearly-daily updates… Here are a few of our favorite photos:

from ‘El Cap Report’

from ‘El Cap Report’

from ‘El Cap Report’


from ‘El Cap Report’

from ‘El Cap Report’

from ‘El Cap Report’

Tommy Caldwell’s Instagram Feed:

Oh yeah? Pitches 6-9 done today. Winter conditions are feeling awesome. Thanks for the photo @brettlowell

A photo posted by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on

Kevin Jorgeson’s Instagram feed:

About Author

Marc is the founder of The Crux Collective. In addition to playing in the mountains, he loves media creation. His vision for Crux Collective is to bring a fresh, modern approach to our outdoor world. Marc is based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Twitter: @brewingdigital

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