Two climbers ended their ninth consecutive day on Sunday of a quest to scale one of the most difficult routes in the world: a half-mile section of exposed granite in California’s Yosemite National Park.
Since Dec. 27, Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell have been free climbing -- using only their hands and feet -- while sleeping in sling-like tents suspended to El Capitan’s Dawn Wall, a steep and barren section of the mountain. The expanse has also been called the Wall of the Early Morning Light.
El Capitan, which stands more than 3,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, is the largest monolith of granite in the world, according to the National Park Service.
For more than 27 days in 1970, Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell climbed Dawn Wall using ropes. Jorgeson and Caldwell would be the first since then to climb the section using ropes only as a safeguard against a fall.
“If they get it completed, it will be the hardest completed rock climb in the world,” Tom Evans, a climber and photographer, told the New York Times. Evans is documenting the pair’s summit on his blog.
Jorgeson, 30, of Santa Rosa, and Caldwell, 36, of Estes Park, Colo., prepared for about five years for the climb, according to their personal websites. They have chronicled both their preparation and current progress toward the summit of El Capitan on Facebook and Twitter.
“One step closer! I sent pitch 15 last night,” Caldwell wrote Sunday morning on his Facebook page, locating himself about halfway through the mountain’s 32 pitches, or sections.
Caldwell plans to attempt the 16th section on Tuesday after taking a rest day on Monday, according to his wife Becca’s blog.
Jorgeson, meanwhile, tweeted late Saturday about his difficulty scaling the same section: “Battling. #dawnwall.”
The pair hope to reach the top of ‘El Cap,’ as climbers call the mountain, on Friday, according to Jorgeson’s “best case scenario” agenda, which he posted online.