Right now, two human beings are climbing up a half mile of smooth granite.
Kevin Jorgeson, 30, and Tommy Caldwell, 36, are halfway up the Dawn Wall, which extends 3,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor. What's more, they're "free climbing," with ropes only as a last safeguard against falls.
This is Yosemite's El Capitan, and in their third attempt according to CBS 5, the duo are poised to make history.
This climb, if successful, would be the first free climb up the Dawn Wall. And as the New York Times discussed on Sunday, it's also considered to be among the most difficult climbs in the world. But best of all, we're going to get to see it, because what would once have been a solitary endeavor is, in 2015, the stuff of social media. Jorgeson and Caldwell are tweeting and Facebooking their daring feat, like so:
Battling. #dawnwall— Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) January 4, 2015
- @sword_duke, check the view: #askdawnwall pic.twitter.com/PQKONmkiqU— Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) January 3, 2015
Or at least they have been on social media, but as of yesterday were taking it easy (they sleep in tents suspended from cliffside).
"(Monday) they are resting and trying to grow skin back on their fingertips so they can continue to do battle with the hardest climbing sections, which involve grabbing tiny, razor-sharp edges of rock," Josh Lowell of Big Up Productions, who have been documenting Jorgeson and Caldwell's climbs for six years, told the Associated Press.
What makes this all the more remarkable is that Caldwell, a seasoned climber, is missing half of his left index finger due to a table saw accident 13 years ago.
You can see more of what Jorgenson and Caldwell's eating and camping conditions are like here.
And, some background, via the NYT:
Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell (no relation to Tommy) were the first to climb Dawn Wall, in 1970, using ropes and countless rivets over 27 days. Around 2008, Caldwell, from Estes Park, Colo., began to seriously ponder whether the entire length could be free climbed in one push, meaning no relief or rest on the valley floor.
Caldwell, now 36, was not sure it could be done, or if he was the one most capable of doing it. Jorgeson, a 30-year-old from Santa Rosa, Calif., heard of the quest and contacted Caldwell to see if he wanted a partner. The two have spent much of the past five years training on El Capitan, mapping out their strategy and practicing every Dawn Wall pitch, perfecting sequences, positioning and holds.
Yeah, commitment. And weather-wise, they've lucked out.
The two are hoping to complete the climb as soon as Friday or Saturday. They've been climbing since December 27th.