El Capitan summit: Men make history with free climb of Dawn Wall
It took years of planning, weeks of effort and multiple attempts, but two men climbed their way into history Wednesday with the first successful free climb of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park.
By 3:30 p.m., Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell had reached their goal.
“The top pitches are a tiny bit easier than the earlier pitches,” Jess Clayton, spokeswoman for sponsor Patagonia, said Wednesday morning. “However, they could be a bit dirtier and not in as good a condition as the earlier pitches.”
They do have the weather in their favor, she noted. “Weather in Yosemite is perfect today, so that doesn’t pose a problem.”
Live streaming video Wednesday showed the climbers slowly moving toward the top. The pair remained close, moving inch by inch as they found crevices for fingers and toes along the wall. From a distance, Caldwell and Jorgeson looked like ants against the massive rock face and appeared to have a long way to go before they reached the summit.
“It’s not over till it’s over,” Jorgeson tweeted at 8:40 a.m.
At the summit, the climbers’ families were waiting for a long-anticipated reunion.
Caldwell’s wife, Becca, has maintained a blog, providing insights into life with a climber.
On Tuesday, she took their son, Fitz, who turns 2 in April, to see his dad on the wall.
“It was so fun seeing Tommy and Kevin up on the wall,” she wrote.
Jorgeson, 30, caught up to his climbing partner, Caldwell, 36, at Wino Tower on Monday. Caldwell reached the tower on Friday. On Monday, Caldwell estimated the final legs of the climb would take them another couple of days.
Jorgeson on Tuesday said on Twitter that they were just four pitches -- four climbing sections -- away from the 3,000-foot-high summit.
“This is not an effort to ‘conquer,’ ” he wrote. “It’s about realizing a dream.”
Caldwell, of Estes Park, Colo., and Jorgeson, of Santa Rosa, Calif., have been describing every gut-wrenching move, injury and struggle through social media, posting maps and photographs as well as responding to the public.
On Monday, Caldwell described a “surreal scene” as clouds swirled around him.
He said he was “excited to walk on flat ground again although I am sure I will truly miss this experience.”
For nearly 18 days, the pair have used only their fingers and feet to scale the sheer granite monolith. Ropes they’ve been tethered to are safety lines to stop falls.
The pair aren’t the first to attempt the climb, though they would be the first, should they succeed, to make the climb in their manner.
In 1970, Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell, no relation to Tommy Caldwell, used ropes to climb the Dawn Wall for more than 27 days.
Caldwell and Jorgeson, who trained for five years, traversed the same section years ago and battled wide cracks and a dirty surface.
As the pair were on the verge of making history, Caldwell on Saturday took to Facebook to reflect on the beauty of Yosemite.
“I am really feeling the Yosemite love these days,” he wrote. “After a lifetime of climbing here I am still struck by the grandness and beauty of this place.”
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