What Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson were able to accomplish this year is phenomenal – the first free climb ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall in Yosemite.
To lend some perspective, Caldwell has been working on this climb since 2007. The combination of endurance and perseverance is difficult to comprehend, even to those of us in the climbing community. Caldwell and Jorgeson lived on the wall for three weeks. They would use sand paper to file away the dead skin on their hands.
The Dawn Wall has 30 pitches. Each pitch is between 100-200 feet, or the length of a rock climbing rope. The easiest pitch of the 30 is rated a 5.11 (learn more about rock climbing ratings here), and there are 5 pitches rated at 5.14 and higher. This represents the upper limit of difficulty seen in the sport over the last decade. The best climbers in the world sometimes takes weeks or months of practice to complete a climb this tough. It’s the hardest free climbing route in history.
Tommy Caldwell described the holds as the “smallest and sharpest holds I have ever attempted to hold onto.”