El Capitan: Tommy Caldwell, Kevin Jorgeson make historic free climb up Yosemite’s Dawn Wall

After more than two weeks on the Dawn Wall — the most challenging route up the El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite National Park — a pair of professional climbers have made it to the 914-metre peak.

1st continuous free climb of most difficult El Capitan rock face

After more than two weeks on the Dawn Wall — the most challenging route up the El Capitan rock formation in Yosemite National Park — a pair of professional climbers have made it to the 914-metre peak.

Tommy Caldwell, 36, and Kevin Jorgeson, 30, were free climbing the wall, a process that allows the use of ropes only for safety purposes. Their ascent marks the first continuous free climb up the Dawn Wall, which is viewed as the most difficult of the roughly 100 paths to the top.

The pair of professional climbers started their trip to the top of the famous California peak on Dec. 27. As they reached their goal Wednesday, the two embraced before Jorgeson pumped his arms in the air and clapped his hands above his head. They then sat down for a few minutes, gathered their gear, changed their clothes and hiked to the summit.

The experienced climbers tackled the rock face one pitch at a time — with some stretches taking longer than others.

Jorgeson recorded a view of the sheer rock wall of pitch 15 in a video posted online, saying it's a view he'll always remember, but one he isn't "sad to be moving past."

Caldwell, who was first to the top on Wednesday, also wrote about the struggles of pitch 15, saying it had "some of the smallest and sharpest holds" he'd ever seen. "Is crazy to think that the skin on our fingertips could be the limiting fact towards success or failure."

The pioneering ascent comes after five years of training and failed attempts for both men.

The climb unfolded over 19 days, and throughout the climb both men needed rest days to wait for their skin to heal. They used tape and even Super Glue to help with the process. At one point, Caldwell set an alarm to wake him every four hours to apply a special lotion to his throbbing hands.​ 

Gaelena Jorgenson, centre in red, raises her arms as her son Kevin completes the free climb of El Capitan. Caldwell's mother, Terry , is at right. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat/The Associated Press)

The pair were on the wall for the duration of the climb, resting, eating and sleeping on a "portaledge" bolted to the face of the rock. Support teams brought them fresh water — and hauled toilet sacks called "wag bags" back down.

On Wednesday, a clutch of family, friends and supporters gathered for the last stretch — including Caldwell's wife, Becca, who has been writing about the climb.

Though others have climbed the Dawn Wall, Caldwell and Jorgeson are the first to make it to the top in a continuous free climb. 

With files from The Associated Press


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