Climb of the Century: Two Men Attempt Historic Free Ascent of El Capitan

Professional climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are midway through the adventure of a lifetime as they attempt to make history by using only their hands and feet to complete what's said to be the hardest rock climb in the world. Just after Christmas, Caldwell, 36, and Jorgeson, 30, began their free climb up the Dawn Wall of El Capitan, a 3,000-foot monolith in Yosemite National Park. With ropes to catch them if they fall, but not to be used to help them up the rock face, they have managed to scale the smooth, polished granite surface of the wall by grabbing onto razor-sharp edges of rock with tape-wrapped fingers while their feet scrabble for traction.

In between climbing attempts, the duo rest in tents suspended over a thousand feet above the ground, eating, sleeping, updating social media, and waiting for the skin of their scraped, torn fingers to heal so they can return to their task. Caldwell and Jorgeson seek out the shade and nighttime to climb, since the near-freezing temperatures ensures more shoe rubber friction and no sweat on their palms.

The climbers hope to finish their ascent by Friday or Saturday, but it could take several more days depending on conditions and the difficulty of certain sections of the route. If they succeed, their hard-earned triumph will be the culmination of six years of planning, practicing and sheer determination to conquer the Dawn Wall against enormous odds.

Photos by Corey Rich Production, Tom Evans, Big UP Productions, 3 Strings Productions

Tommy Caldwell on Facebook
Kevin Jorgeson on Facebook
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