10/8/12 – On October 10, Tommy Caldwell and a new climbing partner, Jonathan Siegrist, will head to Yosemite Valley to once again attempt the world’s hardest big-wall free climb, the Dawn Wall of El Capitan. Later this month, after a rafting trip down the Colorado River with his family, Kevin Jorgeson will rejoin the team for this season’s push.
The Dawn Wall route weaves up the most overhanging wall on El Capitan, roughly following the Mescalito aid climb. It has at least seven 5.14 pitches, including some likely to be at the top of the grade. Caldwell began working on the route by himself in 2007, and then recruited Jorgeson as a partner in 2009. The two free-climbed through the 11th pitch in 2010 before an early-winter storm made the route too dangerous. Last fall, after Jorgeson was injured while working the route, Caldwell pushed on alone but could not redpoint the 13th pitch.
Although Siegrist has never climbed a big wall, Caldwell and Jorgeson seem confident that having him on board can only improve their chances. (Siegrist has completed two 5.14+ new routes this year alone.) On his blog, Jorgeson explained his decision to do a family trip during prime Dawn Wall season and wrote that, “after talking with Tommy, we have decided to grow the Dawn Wall team and take more of an expedition approach. With more than two team members, we will have more energy, more backup, more talent, and all around good times on the wall.”
Caldwell added that, “while the kind of strength and technique required to free this climb would take most people decades to develop, Jonathan already has those skills. The logistics of being on the wall can be learned in a matter of weeks. I’ve figured out so many tricks that can save him the trouble of figuring them out himself. I am sure he will be a big-wall expert in no time.”
When we asked Siegrist about his expectations and training regime for the route, he admitted that, besides his usual climbing, he really hasn’t had the time to focus on big-wall-specific training. “I’m most excited to learn from Tommy and to get a look at such an impressive and inspirational route first-hand,” he said. “I’m stoked to see what I can do up there.”
As expected, Caldwell has been training nonstop for this year’s attempt: summer bouldering, weightlifting, and sport climbing. Before launching a continuous free attempt, Caldwell plans to work on the crux pitches (13, 14, and 15) with Siegrist. Not only will this give Caldwell an opportunity to re-familiarize himself with these pitches, it will give Siegrist the chance to adapt to big-wall free climbing.
“I imagine we will be working on pitches for several weeks before even considering starting a push,” said Caldwell. “I will make the occasional Facebook update. If we go for a big push, they will probably become pretty constant. So many people have told me they enjoy that. I feel like I owe it to the people who have been following in years past.”
Date: October 8, 2012
Sources: Tommy Caldwell, Jonathan Siegrist, kjorgeson/blogspot.com