Amazing feat (and hands): Free climbers summit El Capitan via Dawn Wall


Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have been climbing the 3,000-foot tall rock formation Dawn Wall since Dec. 27, 2014 to reach top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California.

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YOSEMITE –  Nineteen days. Three thousand feet of some of the hardest climbing in the world. And just their bare hands and sticky-soled shoes to get them up the granite-faced monster known as the Dawn Wall.

Many other people had climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. None of them ever reached the top after free climbing the Dawn Wall as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson did Wednesday.

They bested what had once been considered impossible — some of the steepest pitches and so many to climb (31).

“It’s an amazing feeling to accomplish something you have devoted your life to for years,” Jorgeson said through a news release. “Tommy dreamed it could be done, and I could not be more honored to have been his partner on this journey. I hope it might inspire others who may not have been familiar with rock climbing to experience it for themselves.”

Look at the photos from the climb and you will be in awe, if not inspired.

The journey up the Dawn Wall was documented on Caldwell and Jorgeson’s Instagram accounts, Caldwell and Jorgeson’s Facebook accounts and YouTube.

The two began climbing on December 27 and didn’t come off the wall until the finished. They slept in hanging cots. Others sent them food when they needed it. They had safety ropes for the times they lost hold.

Jorgeson, 30, struggled with pitch 15. It mastered him for a week. But on Sunday, he beat it, gained back his momentum and a bit of confidence.

Caldwell, 36, who CNN affiliate KTLA said lost past of one finger doing work on his home, had gone ahead and waited on his comrade.

They reached the top Wednesday afternoon.

“This is spectacular,” Caldwell’s mother, Terry, told KTLA. “This was his biggest project, his biggest dream. He called it his ‘Moby Dick.’ … He kept saying, ‘I don’t know if this is possible; I’m just going to keep working on it.’ ”

There are more than 100 routes up El Capitan, but only a handful have been attempted by climbers trying to free climb.

“So proud of @TommyCaldwell1 and @KJorgeson for conquering El Capitan. You remind us that anything is possible. -bo,” President Barack Obama tweeted.

The two didn’t speak to the media Wednesday. They probably were a bit tired.

CNN’s Katia Hetter, Janet DiGiacomo, Teri Genova and Tony Marco contributed to this story.

By Steve Almasy

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