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It’s On for Caldwell and Jorgeson

News Flash: The following news flash is a preliminary report posted as a service to our readers. We will continue following this story as it develops. -Ed

After three years of planning and months of pitch-by-pitch reconnaissance work, Tommy

Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have begun their official bid to free climb the Dawn Wall

on El Cap. Caldwell and Jorgeson’s 33-pitch line will be arguably the hardest of its kind

in the Yosemite Valley.

As of 11 a.m. on November 15, Jorgeson reports that their climb is going

well. “We are currently on the top of pitch 8,” Jorgeson said in an email. “Yesterday we

did two pitches on 5.14 and today we are going to ‘rest’ by only doing the 5.13c 9th pitch.

After pitch 9, there are five consecutive pitches of mid to hard 5.14.”

Caldwell first set his eyes on freeing the Dawn Wall in the fall of 2007. In an interview

with Climbing, he described the inception of the project as “a pretty logical progression”

as he free climbed his way through the valley. He started by rappelling down to get

an idea of the features on the face, and in the winter of 2008/2009 spent enough time

swinging around the wall to decide that there was just enough to work with for a free

ascent to be possible. Jorgeson first got on the wall in the fall of 2009 and the duo spent

long hours in October of 2009 working from move to move, but they were eventually

sent home by early snowfall with four unclimbed pitches remaining. They returned to the

valley in the spring, but only spent about two weeks on the wall due to bad weather. This

fall, Caldwell and Jorgeson have been able to use the last two months working on the

Dawn Wall, primarily climbing in the dark thanks to the unusually warm temperatures

that have kept them out there all season.

Their route crosses Mescalito (A3 5.8), Reticent (A5 5.7), and Wall of Early Morning

Light (A3 5.8), and shares features with other routes as well, and they have spent all fall

fixing ropes and memorizing the minutia of water polished faces and all but featureless

crux pitches. They expect their final push to take up to two weeks. “We call it a push,”

Jorgeson wrote on his blog, “because, after the first day, it will undoubtedly be a battle

for every pitch.”

Sources: Kevin Jorgeson,,