Dawn Wall: Four 5.14 Pitches Down, Two to Go

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Kevin Jorgeson on pitch 14 of the Dawn Wall, the hardest pitch of the climb. Photo by Jeff Johnson (Jeffjohnsonstories.com).

Kevin Jorgeson on pitch 14 of the Dawn Wall, the hardest pitch of the climb. Photo by Jeff Johnson (Jeffjohnsonstories.com).

1/2/15 - Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have launched what they hope will be their final push on the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, and so far it could not be going better. Yesterday the two men both greeted the new year by leading pitch 14, which they call the hardest pitch of the entire climb. Caldwell had previously redpointed this 5.14+, right-to-left traverse pitch, but had not done it this year. For Jorgeson, it was not only the first time he'd led this pitch, he also said it was the hardest free pitch he'd ever led.

On December 31, after sitting out a storm in their portaledge camp, the two completed pitches 11 and 12. Pitch 12, the 5.14b Molar Traverse, had previously given Jorgeson fits, but this time he led it on his second go and Caldwell followed the pitch free.

The two men started their free push on December 27. Of the 14 pitches they have completed so far, 10 are 5.13 or 5.14. Two of the route's hardest pitches remain: the second traverse pitch, which Caldwell redpointed for the first time in 2013, and the Dyno Pitch. Neither man has led the full Dyno Pitch all free, but both have had good links on the key sections. The climbers have not redpointed several pitches above the dyno, but here the difficulty eases to 5.13 or easier and they have each climbed the cruxes on top-rope or self-belay.

Both men have said that midwinter conditions are proving crucial for good skin and shoe friction on the route's extremely small holds.

See our complete 2014/2015 Dawn Wall coverage.