The forbidding granite pedestal in California’s Yosemite National Park has beckoned adventurers for more than half a century and Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson became the first to free-climb the rock formation’s Dawn Wall, a feat that many had considered impossible.
They used ropes and safety harnesses to catch themselves in case of a fall, but relied entirely on their own strength and dexterity to ascend.
The effort took 19 days as the two dealt with constant falls and injuries. But their success completes a years-long dream that bordered on obsession.
Mr Caldwell, 36, was the first to finish, then waited on a ledge for Mr Jorgeson, 30,. The two embraced before Mr Jorgeson pumped his arms in the air and clapped his hands above his head. Then they gathered their gear and hiked to the nearby summit. About 200 people were waiting for them, including Mr Caldwell’s wife and Mr Jorgeson’s girlfriend, who welcomed them to the top with hugs and kisses.
In the meadow far below, a watching crowd cheered.
The trek began on December 27. Mr Caldwell and Mr Jorgeson lived on the wall, eating and sleeping in tents fastened to the rock and battling painful cuts to their fingertips. They used tape and even super glue to help protect their raw skin.