First to Free-Climb Dawn Wall At El Capitan in Yosemite
The Feat: Dubbed “the world’s toughest rock climb,” the Dawn Wall of Yosemite’s famed El Capitan was long thought to be an impossible pipe dream. But American climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made the impossible possible this past January and, in the process, became the first to free-climb to the top in a nerve-racking 19-day ascent that captured headlines across the nation. The duo had to navigate about 3,000 feet of sheer granite using only their hands and feet (though each had ropes to catch their falls, of which there were plenty). The journey involved 32 pitches — or 32 rope-lengths — of climbing in total as they pieced the puzzle together on the way to the top.
Previous Record: On their fifth attempt over as many years, Caldwell and Jorgeson captured the first and only free ascent of the notorious Dawn Wall.
The Near-Miss Moment: Jorgeson got stuck on a relatively small section of the wall, Pitch 15, for seven straight days before he successfully conquered it on his 11th attempt.
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