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with Stefan Nestler

Hats off to Caldwell and Jorgeson!

Tommy Caldwell (l.) in the Dawn Wall

Tommy Caldwell (l.) in the Dawn Wall

It’s easy to jump on a train that is already standing in the station. However, the climbing train of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson is still rolling. Pull by pull by pull towards the summit of the legendary granite rock El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Since 27 December, for two weeks and a half now, the two Americans climb and hang in the 900-meter-high, mostly vertical, partly overhanging “Dawn Wall” – so named, because the South-East face of El Cap catches the first sunrays in the morning. Caldwell and Jorgeson are well on the way to free climbing the extremely challenging big wall for the first time. Means: They only use ropes, bolts, nuts or friends to avoid falling, not for climbing. Actually, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. But in this special case I do it and and take my hat off to Tommy and Kevin by now.

Without falling after eleven attempts

Most experts indicate that 36-year-old Caldwell and 30-year-old Jorgeson overcame the biggest difficulties of the wall. It took Jorgeson seven days alone to get past the challenges of pitch 15 (of 32) of the route. After eleven attempts he was finally able to climb that passage without falling. Caldwell had done it a few days earlier and waited patiently until his buddy mastered the extremely challenging part of the route too.

“It was such an intense and incredible thing to witness”, Tommy wrote on Facebook. Kevin was on the limit: “It took everything in my power to stay positive and resolved that I would succeed.” Now the happy end is within reach: Caldwell and Jorgeson are expected to climb up to the top of the wall at some point between Thursday and Sunday.

Thomas Huber:  “Crazy”

Thomas Huber

Thomas Huber

“I hope they are lucky with the weather”, German top climber Thomas Huber writes to me. He and his brother Alexander added many highlights to climbing in Yosemite. Thomas is following enthusiastically the progress of the two Americans: “Really crazy! I would be so pleased if they are able to complete their life project. Eight years!!!!! This is motivation!” That is how long Caldwell and Jorgeson worked for their dream to “free” the Dawn Wall. It was first climbed in 1970: The legendary Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell (no relation to Tommy) needed 28 days to succeed by aid climbing. It says everything about the difficulty of the route.

User joins climbing

Kevin Jorgeson (l.) is happy - and is filmed

Kevin Jorgeson (l.) is happy – and is filmed

This act of pioneering work on El Capitan already caused a sensation in the USA at that time, not only in the climbing scene. Today the whole world can visit Yosemite digitally. Almost daily Caldwell and Jorgeson post pictures and short texts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, in addition videos of their climb (see above) are published on YouTube. “That’s up to you”, Thomas Huber replies to my question, what he thinks about the intense media coverage of the project. “I’m on Facebook too, but I wouldn’t blog continually during an adventure such as this. In this regard I prefer old fashion.  I think, for marketing  it is even better to make people curious and to edit everything perfectly when it’s done. And then … Boooom!”

P.S.: If you want to follow the Dawn Wall Live Stream of, here is the link.


14. January 2015 | 13:59