Following the Climbers on El Capitan

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Bligh Gillies / Big UP Productio

Climbers from all over visit Yosemite for the challenge and the thrill from climbing large rock faces all over the park. Yosemite was established in 1890 with a main attraction for climbing being El Capitan, which was first climbed in 1958. The names of the brave men are Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell. Now that they have reached the top, they are the first to free climb Dawn Wall with ropes only for support. Dawn Wall is three thousand feet high.

Their free climb, or climb with their hands and feet with a safety rope, began on December 27th. They are the first climbers since 1970 to climb the Dawn Wall only using the ropes as a safety precaution, not to move themselves further up the wall. Jorgeson and Caldwell chose to begin their climb in the winter so that their hands would not begin to slip from the heat. At night, the men sleep in tents suspended on the side of El Capitan.

While climbing, it is common for the climbers to separate the wall into pitches, or sections. While posting an update to Facebook on Wednesday January 9th, Kevin Jorgeson said, “My battle with Pitch 15 continues. On my 4th attempt, around 11pm, the razor sharp holds ripped both the tape and the skin right off my fingers.” There are thirty two total pitches on El Capitan.

One concern in climbing, especially in the winter, is the possibility of hands drying up and cracking. If this happens, it makes it harder and more painful to climb. To avoid dry hands, Caldwell wakes up every four hours every night to keep his hands moisturized with lotion. Jorgeson has already taken a break to let the skin on his fingertips heal.

Climbing Dawn Wall has been referred to as the hardest climb in the world. Knowing this, Caldwell and Jorgeson have spent five years preparing for this climb. They are keeping everyone updated with their Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as Caldwell’s wife’s blog.

In order to conquer pitch sixteen on Friday, January 9th,  Caldwell had to climb a more difficult section of the Dawn Wall. Since Caldwell had pushed through that section, he came closer to catching up with Jorgeson for the final summit of their climb. Jorgeson was headed toward what is referred to as Wino Tower while Caldwell was on pitch sixteen in preparation for the final summit.

Caldwell and Jorgeson reached the end of their climb on January 14th. They are officially the first to climb Dawn Wall with ropes used only for support. Now that they have achieved this challenge, they plan on spending time with their family for a day before talking to the media about the experience.

Caldwell and Jorgeson Hugging after completing the climb.
ABC News
Caldwell and Jorgeson Hugging after completing the climb.