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Climb of the Century Completed!

January 14th, 2015

Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell climbing the Dawn Wall/El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Photo credit: Brett Lowell/Big Up Productions


Update: January 14, 2015 — They did it! After 19 days, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have successfully free-climbed to the top of Yosemite National Park’s Dawn Wall, considered possibly the toughest climb in the world. They didn’t use ropes to help them climb, only to catch them when they occasionally couldn’t hold on. The 3,000 foot wall is very smooth compared to many rock faces, that was part of the challenge. Until today, many thought this wall was impossible to climb the way they did it. Not anymore. Congratulations to Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson!

To read The New York Times ‘ story about it, click here .


January 6, 2015 — Right now, two of the world’s best rock climbers, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, are over 1,000 feet up attempting what many are calling “the climb of the century”.

They’re more than halfway up and through some of the toughest parts of the climb. So, even though they’ve got a ways to go, it looks like they’re going to do it!

They’re trying to “free climb” a 3,000 foot sheer rock face called the Dawn Wall — part of the El Capitan rock formation at Yosemite National Park in California.

El Capitan is one of Yosemite’s most famous features. It’s the world’s largest block of solid granite. It’s also three times as tall as the Empire State building. It’s so big that parts of it can be experiencing different weather!

So, free climbing. What’s that? (aka sounds terrifying)

The good news is they have ropes to catch falls. But they’re not using them to help them climb.

It’s not the first time the Dawn Wall has been climbed. It was climbed with ropes before in 1970 by Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell (not related) — and took 27 days. With the climbers on the wall. The whole time. Parts of it in a snow storm.

But if this succeeds it will be the first time it would be free climbed — an astounding accomplishment.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson started their ascent on December 27, 2014, and could finish by the end of the week if all goes well.

How it works. 

Their climb is divided into sections (called pitches) and they attempt one section at a time. One does it, then the other. But they never come back down to the ground. They set up camp in portaledges — basically tents suspended from the rock (no thanks!). Food supplies are brought up to them by other climbers. And the bathroom? That happens into a bag. But when they’re resting, they’re able to send updates on social media … and even watch movies on Netflix!

What makes Tommy Caldwell’s climb even more amazing is that he’s missing part of an index finger that got cut off in a home improvement accident a few years ago (which would seem crucial when you’re hanging from next to nothing thousands of feet up). He was also kidnapped while climbing in Kyrgyzstan (part of the former Soviet Union) about 15 years ago, and managed to escape.

Tommy Caldwell has been working on this climb for 7 years, planning it, exploring it, and climbing it. And though they’ve climbed the pitches before, they’ve haven’t successfully climbed them all together and in sequence. Kevin Jorgesen injured his ankle on it the last time they tried.

But, they say, this time seems different.


To follow the climb, you can click here for Tommy Caldwell’s family  blog .

You can also follow Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on Facebook and Twitter for updates (if you’re over 13 years old).

For a Facebook Stories video explaining Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s climb, click here (It’s really great but there’s a bit of swearing in it so please make sure it’s okay with your parent/teacher/adult/caregiver first).

For another great video about their climb by Big Up Productions click here (also a bit of swearing so please make sure you have an adult’s permission to view it).

For a 360 degree of El Capitan, click here .

To see more detail of El Capitan’s rock composition, click here .

Click here for  Yosemite National Park . And for a guide to Yosemite from

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