Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reached the summit of the 3,000-foot rock known as Dawn Wall in El Capitan in Yosemite National Park yesterday. The duo made history as the first to free climb vertical sheer rock. The climb began nineteen days ago. But the practice to get to this place began, arguably, decades ago.
"I grew up a clumsy kid with bad hand-eye coordination," Caldwell once wrote in Ascent magazine. "Yet here on El Cap I felt as though I had stumbled into a world where I thrived. Being up on those steep walls demanded the right amount of climbing skill, pain tolerance, and sheer bull-headedness that came naturally to me."
For Caldwell, the vision to do this free climb began back in 2008 after going through a difficult divorce. Dawn Wall, he has said, “was a good distraction.”
For Jorgeson, the vision came from witnessing Caldwell’s dream, and deciding to team up with him. When they met in 2009, Jorgeson had yet to complete even one free climb route on on El Capitan.
The two stuck together and set no limits on the amount of time it would take to complete the ascent. After living on the rock for over two weeks, they must now make the adjustment into everyday life.
Their sole luxury has been a French press coffee maker and iPhones charged by a solar panel. A few days ago, some 2,000 feet up the wall, Jorgeson wrote on his Twitter account, "This is not an effort to 'conquer.' It's about realizing a dream."
And the world has witnessed the dream along with them.