Much has been written about a climb that has been accomplished on El Cap in Yosemite on January 14th by Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell. It echoed even in larger media such as wide-read newspapers and was highly debated, too, since dimension and style of their climb were not comprehensible for everyone.
The climb was topping year-long efforts, which consisted basically of figuring out a climbable route and preparing it – and themselves, of course. They accomplished the first free-climb of the Dawn Wall ever. It has “pushed climbing forward”, was one of the frequent statements, as expressed for example in an article that’s very worth reading on National Geographic‘s Adventure Blog. The climb was remarkable in several aspects. First of all it was not a crack climb following a line of weakness like the other free climbs on El Cap have been. Instead, it follows a “line of strength”, as the author calls it, on a smooth, blank face without structures that could be recognized from below, at least for unexperienced eyes. And the climbing therefore is extremely difficult. 17 pitches are rated 5.13 or harder, including the two hardest pitches to be found in Yosemite. Next, it was remarkable in style. To avoid the heat of the rock, which is even too big in November, Jorgeson and Caldwell climbed in January – at night, by the help of their headlamps’ light. They also were exceptional in their enforcement of social media sharing. Due to the great cell-phone coverage in the area, they were able to provide news and pictures from the climb on a daily basis on Instagram and Facebook. There, Tommy Caldwell wrote on January 7th:
These are the crux holds of pitch 15. Some of the smallest and sharpest holds I I have have ever attempted to hold onto. Is crazy to think that the skin on our fingertips could be the limiting fact towards success or failure. I have resorted to setting my alarm to wake myself up every four hours to reapply.
Their extensive social media sharing approach enabled them to be reported about and celebrated in a variety of media channels. Even Barack Obama became a fan of the two climbers:
For some other funny stories about the free-climb getting into the media, see…
NG Author Andrew Bisharat concluded: »It’s safe to say that it’ll be a long time before anyone repeats this rock climb.«