iLocal News Archives

Extreme athletes live-tweet one of the world’s most grueling free climbs

yosemiteBy Patrick Kulp From Mashable

To those safe on the ground, Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell are just two tiny specks on the otherwise unbrokenly smooth half-mile high stretch of granite that is the Dawn Wall of Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan.

But pull out a phone and one can see the world from their perspective: panorama views of dizzying drops, the vertical campsites where they eat, sleep and even watch Netflix and the day-to-day struggles they face as they inch their way towards a next-to-impossible goal.

The pair are poised to make history. If they make it to the top, they will be the first to ever free climb the notoriously unforgiving Dawn Wall of El Capitan. And they are documenting the entire endeavor in detail on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so that people across the world can watch it unfold.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 7.32.38 AMAs of Wednesday evening, Caldwell and Jorgeson were more than halfway up the 3,000-foot ascent after 12 days on the wall. They expect to reach their destination by Friday or Saturday so long as everything goes as planned.

Free climbing means that ropes and equipment are used only to safeguard in case of a fall but never to boost the climb. Scaling the Dawn Rock section of El Capitan is widely considered the most challenging of the many routes to the summit — the surface is almost completely smooth at a full 90-degree vertical.

They’ve been hampered by perpetually raw fingertips, powerful gusts of frigid wind and treacherous icefalls. But overall the climb has been a success thus far, according to Josh Lowell, whose company, Big Up Productions, has been documenting the climbers for the past six years.

“The guys are doing great,” Lowell told the Associated Press earlier this week. “(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.”

Both climbers post regularly on their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts in which they journal about each portion of the climb. The posts are also supplemented with blog posts by Caldwell’s wife Becca, who gets frequent phone call updates on the adventure.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 7.34.10 AMThe posts help add context to the enormity of the task the climbers are taking on and reveal some of the ups and downs of the trip.

The climbers use social media not only to chronicle the journey, but also to engage with their far-reaching crowd of supporters. Last Friday, Jorgeson held the first-ever question-and-answer session from 1,200 feet up the side of El Capitan. In another post, Jorgeson asked fellow climbers to share their best ways of taping up fingers.

The Q&A covered everything from specifics about climbing techniques to choice of music and sleeping arrangements.

The fact that the climbers are perched thousands of feet off the ground doesn’t stop them from eating well. One upside of the numbing cold is that it allows for gourmet dining.

“We are living in a refrigerator so fresh food doesn’t spoil!” Caldwell wrote under a Facebook photo of a “legendary” sandwich.

Caldwell and Jorgeson take rest days as needed to heal their bloodied fingers and do much of their climbing in the late afternoon and night with headlamps, according to the New York Times. They have a team that brings them food, batteries and takes pictures so they are not entirely alone.

The climbers even attempt to get in some exercise during rest intervals: “I know Tommy has made an effort to try and do stretching/push ups/yoga in the portaledge hoping this might combat the unusual circumstances of living like veal between their climbing,” Becca wrote in the blog.

Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell (not related) were the first to climb Dawn Wall in 1970, using ropes and rivets over the course of 27 days.

Caldwell and Jorgeson have attempted the feat twice before. In 2010, winter storms forced them to stop about a third of the way up and in 2011, Jorgeson broke his ankle.

The duo were both nearing their previous high points around New Year’s Eve.



Tweet: Tonight, I climbed the hardest pitch of my life and the hardest pitch on the Dawn Wall: Pitch 14. It was by far the most memorable and surreal experiences I’ve ever had. @tommycaldwell followed suit and sent as well! We have a lot of hard climbing ahead, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to have this pitch behind us. Photo by @jeffjohnson_beyondandback. @adidasoutdoor #DawnWall

Tweet: My battle with Pitch 15 continues. After 6 years of work, my #DawnWall quest comes down to sending this pitch. Last night, I experienced a lightness and calm like never before. Despite failing, it will always be one of my most memorable climbing experiences. On my 4th attempt, around 11pm, the razor sharp holds ripped both the tape and the skin right off my fingers. As disappointing as this is, I’m learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I’m not giving up. I will rest. I will try again. I will succeed. Photo by @coreyrichproductions. @adidasoutdoor

For more on this story with some of the tweets go to:



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *