Dawn Wall Project January 14, 2015:
Congratulations Tom Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson
Good Neighbor Insurance and www.adventuresportsinsurance.com would like to congratulate Tom Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on successfully free-climbing the Dawn Wall, a route up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in Northern California, January 14, 2015. One of the greatest climbs in history.
Learn more about Tommy Caldwell here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAMMPqq31Vg
Learn more about Kevin Jorgeson here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vsl4evw0a7Q
View the interactive route on the N. Y. Times site here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/01/09/sports/the-dawn-wall-el-capitan.html
The N.Y. Times also has a running story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/sports/el-capitans-dawn-wall-climbers-near-top-yosemite.html
At 3,000 feet (914m) of sheer granite, it has never been free-climbed and has been considered impossible to climb without ropes and gear. In order to prove that they did indeed free-climb the entire route, the men would start each pitch over if they fell. (Ropes and anchors are used for safety/protection points to limit the distance fallen if a climber slips, not to assist in climbing which is restricted to fingers and special rubber climbing shoes.) In ascents such as this one, where there are many falls, the climbers can practice a pitch repeatedly (over many attempts), but each must free climb from one belay station to the next in each push. For many “first ascents” of extremely hard routes, climbers fall hundreds of times before doing the entire pitch without weighting the rope. [“Free soloing” is climbing without assistance or ropes. No major El Capitan route has been free-soloed.]
“We’ve been working on each of these stages and climbing ‘pitches’ broken up by rope lengths. Our ropes are about 200 feet long so the pitches are obviously 200 feet long or less.” – Jorgeson
The climb began on December 27, and the climbers summited at 3:30pm P.T. after 32 pitches and 19 continuous days living on the face.
You can view video updates of each day here: http://vimeo.com/rockandice/videos
This had been the climbers’ fourth attempt (2010, 2011, and 2013) and was almost unsuccessful due to Jorgeson’s fingers splitting open. The wall is rated 5.14d, and considered one of the hardest in the world. (Only 5.15 is more difficult, with 5.0 being the “easiest.”) Adam Ondra ascended “Change,” considered the world’s hardest route, with 5.15a+b sections, and two 5.15d sections at Hanshelleren Cave at Flatanger, Norway. (Other climbers will have to confirm that to make it official.) The holy grail is a consensus of climbers recognizing a true 5.16 (10a).
While each pitch (segment) is not individually the hardest in the world, they are among the hardest in North America, and there are many of them in rows, high up on the route, which makes the climb one of the top rock-climbing achievements ever.
Tommy Caldwell redpointed one of the Dawn Wall’s 5.14d pitches in 2013 here: http://www.climbing.com/news/caldwell-redpoints-514d-pitch-dawn-wall/
Heat was reported to be more of a concern to the climbers than cold, due to sweaty hands. The climbers often climbed at night when it was cooler. (http://www.npr.org/2015/01/06/375357301/free-climbing-yosemites-el-capitan-takes-a-team-and-time)
One poignant highlight, on January 10, was when Jorgeson dyno-jumped sideways eight and a half feet (2.6m) while Tommy Caldwell found a new way (“Loop Pitch)”around “Dyno” Pitch 16 to continue his route. (See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140111-interview-kevin-jorgeson-dawn-wall-yosemite-adventure/) A “dynamic jump” in when both feet and hands leave the rock. This right after Pitches 14 and 15, which are the two hardest pitches on El Cap. Together they are called The Grand Traverses. Caldwell said that pitch 14 is harder than 15, but they are both 5.14d. After failed attempts, Caldwell created the new route around pitch 16.
Jorgeson stalled out on pitch 15. For ten days in a row, he continued to fall during each of his attempts. Time was a factor—the longer the climbers were on the wall, the greater chance of a weather front moving through and forcing the climbers to descend. After resting a couple days and realizing he was holding the team back, he nailed it and moved on to “Dyno.”
“A ‘dyno’ is short for dynamic and that’s when all of your limbs — hands and feet — are off the rocks. So basically there’s a huge 8.5-foot expanse of rock with nothing in between,” Jorgeson says. “It’s total porcelain. And on one side, it’s a little doorjamb-sized edge that you can hang on to — and likewise on the other. And the only way to get between the two is to jump.”
The ElCap Report has also documented “The Climb of the Century:” http://www.elcapreport.com/content/elcap-report-1142015-special-dawn-wall-edition-day-19