Tommy Caldwell, along with climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson, reached the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park today. The pair are the first free climbers to scale the 3,000 foot granite wall known as “The Dawn Wall”, which means they reached the top without the use of climbing aids like ropes.
Here’s what you need to know about Tommy Caldwell.
1. He’s a “Rock Climbing Ambassador”
According to a bio on his sponsor’s site, Caldwell, 36, is a “rock climbing ambassador.”
He was born and raised in Estes Park, Colorado, and still resides there, but his professional climbing career ranges nationally and internationally. Some of his career highlights include “first ascent of the Fitz Traverse, Chaltén massif, Patagonia, first ascent of The Honeymoon is Over (V 5.13), Longs Peak, Colorado,” and “first free ascent of El Capitan’s Muir Wall, Yosemite, California.”
He is currently married with a child.
2. “The Dawn Wall”
According to USA Today:
El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in the world, has about 100 routes to the top. The first climber reached the summit in 1958.
In 1970, Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell — no relation to Tommy Caldwell — climbed Dawn Wall using ropes and countless rivets over 27 days. That duo turned down a rescue attempt by park rangers in a storm.
As stated, Harding and Dean Caldwell used ropes and other climbing gear. Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell did not, becoming the first to “free climb” the Dawn Wall on El Capitan.
The article goes on to state:
They used safety ropes and harnesses to prevent deadly falls, but did not using ropes or climbing aids to reach the top. The two climbed the wall in 32 rope-length sections that climbers call pitches…
3. They Began the Climb on December 27
The intended length of the climb was two weeks, beginning on December 27.
However, Jorgeson and Caldwell ended up taking 19 days.
There were some times Jorgeson didn’t think he would make it… again.
The pair had attempted to climb it before.
Caldwell and Jorgeson had tried to climb the route before, but a 2010 attempt was thwarted by weather and Jorgeson broke his ankle attempting the climb in 2011, according to The New York Times. Caldwell tried to carry on without Jorgeson but couldn’t get past a particularly tough section of rock.
4. January 14, 3:30 p.m. PT.
Jorgeson and Caldwell reached the top of the Dawn Wall today at 3:30 PM, Pacific Time.
Caldwell, who tweeted during his 19-day ascent, hasn’t posted any update on his Twitter page since January 11.
5. It Was a Dream 5 Years in the Making
Fighting unseasonably warm weather and bloody fingers, sometimes even having to resort to climbing at night, Jorgeson and Caldwell become the first free climbers to conquer the Dawn Wall.
Their climb was sponsored by Patagonia, the clothing and gear maker.