OT: Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson about to finish the first free ascent of Dawn Wall, Live Stream

Submitted by reshp1 on January 14th, 2015 at 5:57 PM

You've probably heard about these two the last couple weeks. They are attempting to be the first team to free climb (climbing without using gear to ascend past sections) the Dawn Wall on El Cap in Yosemitie. For reference the hardest single pitch ever climbed is 5.15c. The Dawn Wall route has six pitches rated in the 5.14 range, with two rated 5.14d, just 3 steps below the hardest single pitch anyone has ever done.

You can watch the last push here and history in the making.


They just finished up pitch 30 and swung leads and Tommy Caldwell is starting up pitch 31. (EDIT: Actually they're starting up the final pitch!!). There are 32 pitches total.



January 14th, 2015 at 7:34 PM ^

If anything, Honnold and the French guy have more in common than either to Caldwell/Jorgrson, at least in terms of what he's known for (Honnold's a pretty good roped in climber too). Free soloing, climbing without a rope, is done on much much lower technical difficulty, but obviously much more dire consequences. Same goes for building climbing, much easier technically. What these guys are doing is at the very cutting edge of difficulty. There are only a small group of people that can climb 5.14d period, let alone two of them, back to back, in between a dozen other pitches of 5.13 and 5.14.


January 14th, 2015 at 8:22 PM ^

Well I was saying that Honnold has more in common to Caldwell and Jorgeson than the French guy does to the two of them. Not saying that Honnold and French Spiderman don't have anything in common. But Honnold is known for his (repeated) ascents in Yosemite  (both free solo and free climbing) and he has partnered up with Caldwell and Jorgeson in the past for other climbs (ie. Fitz Roy last February).  The free solos that Honnold does do are probably easier, but at the same time, that must mean his climbing level must be a lot higher to be able to do them without roope. IIRC, Honnold's climbed up to 5.14c, but don't quote me on that.



January 14th, 2015 at 6:08 PM ^

Dude, wtf. Mgoblog be glitching like crazy today. For a while there every time I'd log on it'd send me to YouTube with a captcha screen after the page loaded, now my comments are popping up in another thread. The struggle is real today.

rob f

January 14th, 2015 at 8:44 PM ^

than I do---those are not "popeye-esque forearms" on that robot avatar of his. 

He'd be better off being retro-fitted for some booster rockets to propel him to the top.  Would be easier (and much more sci/fy-entific) for a robot to be able to propel himself that way, rather than climbing like a mere mortal.


January 14th, 2015 at 7:57 PM ^

What's even more fun to watch is the sheer number of times you multiple post something because you simply cannot comprehend that you sometimes have to wait before the post shows up. One would think after the fifth or sixth time you did this you would learn to NOT feverishly hit the submit button over and over again but no-once again you've made a massive repeat post.


January 14th, 2015 at 6:48 PM ^


The most interesting launch point is to learn about Elizabeth Hawley. Allison Ott did a wonderful documentary about Hawley which initially presented at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival a few years ago. You should be able to grab that one through NetFlix or the like. I am an alpinist and was fortunate to watch the Hawley film debut and then go climbing the next day with Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin. Elizabeth Hawley is a credit to the University, she has led an extraordinary life and her story will appeal to just about any person, climber or not. Climbing rocks!



January 14th, 2015 at 7:46 PM ^

Has 14k peaks, max, which don't require serious technical gear or know-how. Thus naturally I claim to have trumped both Anker and Chin in smooth-i-ness, and more, and you can tell them ChicagoGangViolins has said so. (Be emphatic about this when you poll them.) 
In terms of Telluride, you will find a surprisingly large and influential Wolverine outdoor community there. If you can get there someday go - no assholes allowed, which may be a problem for some. Also, Brown Dog Pizza is a must, former Michigan Football player Jeff Schmoker, cough, owns the joint.
And if you are interested in climbing history, please check out Allison Ott's documentary on Michigan Alumna Elizabeth Hawley. I cannot recommend it enough.
Flatlander out. Preparing to lead.

M Go Cue

January 14th, 2015 at 6:49 PM ^

Did part of our honeymoon at Yosemite last June.  What an amazingly beautiful and awe inspiring part of the United States and world.  I wanted to stay forever.

That being said, I sure as hell didn't try this.


January 14th, 2015 at 6:51 PM ^

As someone who's climbed rock, ice, glaciers, trees, and pretty much everything else in the Pacific Northwest, including putting up new, previously unclimbed routes, I think that this is a marvel of PR. I've seen more press about this FFA (first free ascent, meaning they protected themselves from falls with ropes, but did not use the ropes or other equipment to climb the rock) than any other non-disaster mountaineering story since Hillary and Norgay got up Everest.

These guys are talented and strong and determined, but they also essentially climbed this route as a series of single pitches, not in continuous, ground-up style. For the better part of a week, one was about 10 pitches ahead of the other, in terms of what he'd managed to "free" climb.

So yeah, nice job to these guys, but in terms of a mountaineering accomplishment, the guy that just completed the first ever January solo climb of Denali gets more cred with me.


January 14th, 2015 at 8:18 PM ^

The only thing that makes their attempt not ground up is that they were resupplied. Being pitches apart isn't a big deal and only happened because Caldwell really wanted Jorgeson to send the crux pitches too. In a normal attempt, Jorgeson would have just jugged up fixed ropes and continued with the rest of thr climb. And he actually did do that anyway to belay and help Caldwell.


January 14th, 2015 at 8:28 PM ^

In 1988 Vern Tejas was the first person to make a solo winter ascent of Denali.  But he did it in March.  Heck, that's easy.  Anybody could do that.  Right?

BTW, a married couple who I climbed Mt. Ritter (13,149 ft; not very high) with in the Sierra Nevada had Vern Tejas as their guide when they attempted to climb Mt. Denali.  They said he's a down-home, friendly guy.

That couple did not make it to the top.  When they were climbing, a Taiwanese climbing party of five that was led by Makalu Gau, who is prominent in the movie "Into Thin Air", got into trouble.  Two of them died, and two others had bad frostbite.  So my climbing buddies with Vern Tejas had to escort Makalu Gau down the mountain to basecamp.

Now here's the weird part.  They said that Makula Gau, who had just led two people to their death and had two others lose fingers and toes, was shouting to people on the way down: "Victory! Victory! We climb Denali!"  They wanted him to shut up, but he wouldn't.

Then, as you can see in the movie "Into Thin Air", Makalu Gau got stuck in the storm overnight on Everest (Chomolungma) at 27,200 ft., and lost most of his hands and feet to frostbite.  Amazing that he survived.



January 14th, 2015 at 9:02 PM ^

Have you read Vern's book about that climb? It was outright brutal. And he was alone. No cameras, no support teams, no people hanging on fixed lines 20 feet away cheering him on. He was utterly alone, and the climb took him twice as long as he'd planned.

He dug trenches in the snow and used his paraglider wing as a roof. He intended to FLY from the summit but thought better of it and walked down. Much of the climb he was strapped into the middle of a section of extension ladder so that he would be less likely to fall to the bottom of a crevasse.

What these two are doing on El Cap requires phenomenal physical strength. But relative to Denali in the winter or K2 or the Rupal Face it's pretty cush.


January 14th, 2015 at 7:10 PM ^

My understanding is that they are not free climbing the whole wall, but simply free climbing each pitch of the wall. If they wanted to truly free climb the entire thing, they would have to re-start at the very bottom of El Cap each time they fell off. They are not doing this, but restarting at intermediate points each time they fall. 

Because they fall a lot and re-start at intermediate points, the ropes are a fundamental part of the climb itself and not just backup for safety.