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.
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.”
More back story on the ‘Dawn Wall’
Make sure to check out local photographer Tom Evan‘s nearly-daily updates… Here are a few of our favorite photos:
These are the crux holds of pitch 15. Some of the smallest and sharpest holds I I have have ever attempted to hold onto. Is crazy to think that the skin on our fingertips could be the limiting fact towards success or failure. I have resorted to setting my alarm to wake myself up every four hours to reapply @climbonproducts
Tonight was definitely bittersweet. I managed to redpoint the final 5.14 pitch. Keven battled hard on pitch 15 late into the night but came away with another hole in his finger and no send. Tomorrow is a new day. Lets all send Kevin good skin healing vibes. Photo by @coreyrichproductions @bigupclimbing A photo posted by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on
Made it through another hurdle last night. Managed to climb the loop pitch around the Dyno. It was a full in battle with a 13+ or 5.14 down climb. Keven is going to give his fingers one more day to heal before trying pitch 15 again. We still have a long way to go, but the weather is good and motivation is high. Thanks for the photo @coreyrichproductions A photo posted by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on
One step closer! I sent pitch 15 last night. Keven got oh so close several times. I am sure he could have done it if he didn’t have to tape two key fingers. Weather it’s getting hard to sleep forecast looks splitter! It’s getting hard to sleep due to the excitement I feel. Photo @brettlowell taken form the most exposed spot on the planet.
Pretty much a legendary sandwich for the side of El Cap. There are downsides of trying to free climb El Cap mid winter. Falling ice, looming storms, raging ice wind, and numb toes name a few. But there are upsides too. We have the best chunk of rock in the world all to ourselves. The razor sharp holds feel way bigger (when we can feel them). and we are living in a refrigerator so fresh food doesn’t spoil! A photo posted by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on
@alexhonnold made a visit to the wall bearing moral boosting treats. Then we sent pitch 10. Now we are battening down the hatches for for forecast very high winds tomorrow. Good thing it’s a rest day. A photo posted by Tommy Caldwell (@tommycaldwell) on
My battle with Pitch 15 continues. After 6 years of work, my #DawnWall quest comes down to sending this pitch. Last night, I experienced a lightness and calm like never before. Despite failing, it will always be one of my most memorable climbing experiences. On my 4th attempt, around 11pm, the razor sharp holds ripped both the tape and the skin right off my fingers. As disappointing as this is, I’m learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I’m not giving up. I will rest. I will try again. I will succeed. Photo by @coreyrichproductions. @adidasoutdoor
My battle with the #DawnWall boils down to this right hand razor blade. It’s so small, tape prevents a proper grip for the crux sequence. So, I’m practicing patience and resting until I can try Pitch 15 without tape. Every fiber of me wants to send this pitch. Thanks to @sparkshopclimbing for the screen grab. @adidasoutdoor A photo posted by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on
Tonight, I climbed the hardest pitch of my life and the hardest pitch on the Dawn Wall: Pitch 14. It was by far the most memorable and surreal experiences I’ve ever had. @tommycaldwell followed suit and sent as well! We have a lot of hard climbing ahead, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to have this pitch behind us. Photo by @jeffjohnson_beyondandback. @adidasoutdoor #DawnWall A photo posted by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on
Descending the Dawn Wall under a moonless night sky after another day of work. Photo by Kirk Keeler. Merry Christmas everyone! A photo posted by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on
It’s the mental breakthroughs that make the physical breakthroughs possible. This past week has been full of incredible shifts in confidence on a number of pitches. As a result, they are coming together nicely. Now, @tommycaldwell and I are watching and waiting for a weather window to allow for a push this year. Cross your fingers for us! #DawnWall @adidasoutdoor @blackdiamondequipment A photo posted by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on
We are in battle mode on the Dawn Wall. For the past four weeks, @tommycaldwell and I have been attacking the crux pitches with focus and determination. This is our sixth consecutive season on the project and it feels like it’s all coming together. @adidasoutdoor @blackdiamondequipment A photo posted by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on