Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson closing in on Dawn Wall
- Friday 14th August 2020 at 12.51am
Jan 13th, 2015
With thousands, if not millions, of climbers and non-climbers around the world now holding their collective breath, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are slowly closing in on the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Captain in Yosemite Valley.
As we reported previously (click through here for that report…), by mid-November 2014 and following six years of effort, Caldwell and Jorgeson had finally free-climbed all the individual pitches on the Dawn Wall. Following a break away, they returned to Yosemite and set out just after Xmas on December 27th to attempt the first continuous free ascent of Dawn Wall. Their game-plan appears to have been simple; both intended to free-climb each pitch, either on lead or top-rope, and to top-out together as a team.
Their progress on the so-called ‘easier’ lower pitches was, as expected, swift. By the end of the third day they’d done the first ten pitches including two @ 5.14a/F8b+, one @ 5.13d/F8b and three @ 5.13c/F8a+. Day 4 was a rest day which conveniently coincided with a storm! Day 5 and Day 6 saw both climbers successfully through pitches 11 to 14 whilst dodging icicles; pitch 14 being the first of the 5.14d/F9a pitches. Day 7 was a rest day and both Caldwell and Jorgeson must have been well-satisfied with progress; 14 pitches in 6 days.
Week Two however saw Caldwell and Jorgeson in the midst of the hardest climbing; their next and immediate objective was to redpoint the two remaining back-to-back 5.14d/F9a pitches. Although they had done these in the autumn, doing these pitches as part of the continuous push was going to be crucial to their success. Day 8 saw Caldwell succeed on the first of these, Pitch 15 (5.14d/F9a). Sadly, however, Jorgeson couldn’t match his partner’s success and he fell repeatedly. Jorgeson battled on day after day but returned to camp without success. Meanwhile, Caldwell pushed his own effort farther and farther out successfully redpointing pitches 17 through to 20 to reach Wino Tower by Day 13.
Tommy Caldwell's latest FB page
Jorgeson, meanwhile was having a nightmare suffering from split tips from repeated attempts to climb through the razor crimps of pitch 15. Following a number of rest days to allow his skin to repair Jorgeson, climbing with tapped pads, finally succeeded on Pitch 15 on Day 14. He’d been locked-down for a whole week on pitch 15 but was finally past that hurdle. Jorgeson quickly redpointed pitch 16 and then top-roped pitch 17 on Day 15. Jorgeson’s personal effort was finally back on the tracks and with just three easier pitches (5.13c) to do he too would be at Wino Tower alongside Caldwell.
Kevin Jorgeson's latest FB page
Such was that state of play on January 10th. Once both climbers are at Wino Tower, we understand the intention is to move camp up to there and then continue onto the ten remaining ‘easier’ pitches to the top of El Cap.
Facilitating Caldwell and Jorgeson climbing efforts is a support team who are ferrying supplies up to ‘camp’ - currently at c.1,200 feet. In addition, a photographic team (including CoreyRichProductions and BigUpClimbing) are also on the wall recording the action. During down periods Caldwell and Jorgeson are blogging and posting on social media as well as holding Q&A’s sessions live from their portaledges.