Dawn Wall: Major Hurdle Cleared, Final Push Planned for December

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Tommy Caldwell on the 14th pitch (5.14d) of the Dawn Wall. Photo by Jeff Johnson.

Tommy Caldwell on the 14th pitch (5.14d) of the Dawn Wall. Photo by Jeff Johnson.

11/19/14 - Tommy Caldwell has free-climbed the 14th pitch of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, which means that either he or Kevin Jorgeson now has redpointed every 5.14 section of the route. During his own redpoint attempt on the 14th pitch last night, Jorgeson fell on the last move. The men have been climbing in the evening to take advantage of crisp conditions on the micro-holds of the crux traverse pitches.

Caldwell posted on social media last night: “Oh my goodness!!! After six years I finally sent this beast of a pitch. Inspired by Keven's fight to the death near miss. This officially means all the hard individual pitches have been redpointed. I am so psyched my hands are shaking!”

The Dawn Wall is the link-up on the southeast face of El Capitan that Caldwell and Jorgeson have been working to free since 2007. The route will have three 5.14+ pitches—and seven 5.14 pitches in all—including a long right-to-left traverse in the middle of the wall. Last autumn, Caldwell redpointed the 15th pitch at 5.14d, creating Yosemite’s hardest single lead. Both men have said the 14th pitch is the crux of the route.

Caldwell has redpointed all of the hardest pitches except the infamous eight-foot sideways dyno of the 16th pitch. Jorgeson has done the dyno but not the two hard traverse pitches before it, and last weekend he said his personal crux is the 5.14b Molar Traverse at the start of the big traverse. Of the Dyno Pitch, which has another crux passage above the actual dyno move, Jorgeson said, “Tommy and I have opposite cruxes on that pitch. He climbs from above the dyno to the top no problem. I crux in that part, but I think I figured it out last time we were up there.”

Several other pitches that might be the cruxes of any other big-wall free climb still have not been led free. “Above the dyno pitch there are three 13+ pitches we haven't redpointed on lead but have either top-roped or Mini-Traxioned,” Jorgeson said. “[We] don't anticipate too much of an epic there.”

After camping on the wall for days at a time during previous seasons, the men have found they recover better by sleeping on the ground and jumaring 1,100 feet up fixed ropes to work on the crux pitches. During the month they’ve spent on the Dawn Wall this season, they have made this trip more 20 times, ascending the 1,100-foot approach in as little as 40 minutes.

Caldwell and Jorgeson plan to keep working on the route until next Monday and then take a break for Thanksgiving. They plan to return to Yosemite in early December and begin a ground-up free attempt on the complete route, expected to take about two weeks.

See our complete 2014/2015 Dawn Wall coverage.

Source: Kevin Jorgeson