Dawn Wall: important progress for Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on El Capitan
Yesterday the American climber Tommy Caldwell freed one of the three hardest pitches on The Dawn Wall, the enormous big wall project up El Capitan in Yosemite, USA.
Good news directly from El Capitan in Yosemite where yesterday, despite the advent of winter, an important breakthrough was made: Tommy Caldwell finally managed to free the 14th pitch. This tricky traverse is considered one of the three crux pitches on what promises to become the hardest big wall in the world and, taken on its own, stands out as the hardest single pitch in all of Yosemite. Located hundreds of metres above the valley floor though, it's clear that things take on a completely different dimension.
This small, enormous step forward by Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson was by no means taken for granted: after starting late in the season due to the infamous Shutdown, Caldwell had to abandon the route temporarily after injury following a freak accident when his haulbag became detached from his harness. Jorgeson continued to work the route on his own and then, despite the arrival of winter, they continued undeterred, undisturbed and unperturbed, fighting against the cold and even dodging icefall from above...
After this latest success we asked Jorgeson to explain their tactics and summarise what has been done up to this point: "This entire season has been focused on sending 3 of the hardest pitches on the route: 14, 15 and 16. They are all roughly 5.14d. Last night, Tommy sent pitch 15! The goal is to leave the ground and climb to the top of the wall, with both Tommy and I redpointing every pitch along the way. If you fall, you just lower back to the anchor and try again. That's the style we want to do it in and only then will we call it a send. We are not forging new ground. We know exactly where and how the route goes. It's just a matter of climbing it now. We have been going up from the ground each day this season to try the hard pitches. We haven't been sleeping on the wall because it requires sitting in the portaledge from sunrise until 3pm when the wall goes in the shade. We will conclude this season on Saturday and return next October."