Dawn Wall Push: Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reach new highpoint in Yosemite
Huge progress has been made by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on their ground-up attempt to free the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite.
"One step closer" These are the words Tommy Caldwell posted on FB yesterday after having successfully negotiated pitch 15 on what is being hailed as the "The Climb of the Century", namely the attempt to free the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite together with fellow American Kevin Jorgeson.
As previously reported, the two set off on 27 December from the valley floor and after making short work of the first 10 pitches are currently negotiating the three crux pitches that bar the way to the upper and easier section of The Big Stone; in the region of 8c+, these are reputed to be among the hardest in the entire Yosemite valley. Pitch14 - the first of the two ‘traverse pitches’ leftwards - was climbed clean by both Caldwell and Jorgeson on 2 January, and two nights ago only Caldwell managed to send the far longer Pitch 15. Jorgeson attempted to climb this free yesterday afternoon without success, and Caldwell set his sights on Pitch 16, the famous "Dyno Pitch" with its enormous, 8-foot leap leftwards to a tiny, sloping edge half-way up El Capitan.
As if the technical difficulties of the climb were not enough, huge chunks of ice have peeled off the wall, plummeting dangerously close and giving the climb a decidedly alpine feel "like on Cerro Torre.." commented Caldwell. In one of his latest posts he explained "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!"
While the rough granite is beginning to take its toll, crowds are gathering daily on El Cap meadow below to cheer them on and, much like Warren Harding’s 47-day first ascent of the Nose back in 1958 along with Wayne Merry and George Whitmore, this recent climb has unsurprisingly caught the attention not only of the specialized press but also the mainstream outlet, with both National Geographic and The New York Times running pieces. To find out more stay tuned to Caldwell and Jorgeson as well as Tom Evans and his daily El Cap report.