2 men attempt most difficult climb in world at Yosemite
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two men are roughly halfway through what has been called the hardest rock climb in the world: a free climb of a half-mile (0.8-mile) section of exposed granite in California’s Yosemite National Park.
Tom Evans, a climber and photographer, has been chronicling Kevin Jorgeson. 30, of California, and Tommy Caldwell, 36, of Colorado, as they scale their way using only their hands and feet.
El Capitan, the largest monolith of granite in the world, rises more than 3,000 feet (914 meters) above the Yosemite Valley floor.
The men eat, stretch and sleep in hanging tents suspended to El Capitan’s Dawn Wall. They don’t have the creature comforts of home, but they have kept in touch with the outside world thanks to social media --tweeting, posting on Facebook, feeding information for blogs and keeping in touch with a bevy of supporters on the ground.
“The guys are doing great,” said Josh Lowell with Big Up Productions, which has been chronicling their climbs for the last six years. ”(Monday) they are resting and trying to grow skin back on their fingertips so they can continue to do battle with the hardest climbing sections, which involve grabbing tiny, razor-sharp edges of rock,” Lowell said.
If all goes as planned, the duo could be at the top as soon as Friday or Saturday, Lowell said.
“But that’s best-case scenario. It could take several more days just to get through the difficult section where they currently are. If any weather moves in, that could also delay things, but the forecast is looking good for now,” Lowell said.
Many have climbed Dawn Wall but the pair would be the first to “free climb” the section using ropes only as a safeguard against falls. The first climber reached El Capitan’s summit in 1958, and there are roughly 100 routes up to the top.
Evans said the two have a cellphone on their ascent, but they weren’t taking calls Monday because they were resting and “want no distractions while on the cliff.” The two also weren’t answering emails from roughly 1,500 feet (457 meters) above the ground.
These practices may not seem unusual, but the climbers have relied heavily on social media to document their adventure. Both update their Facebook pages regularly and tweet from the Dawn Wall, which has been called “as smooth as alabaster, as steep as the bedroom wall.”
Last Friday, Jorgeson hosted a live question-and-answer session from the wall.
Caldwell’s wife’, Becca, has also been blogging about their trip daily and wrote this post last weekend:
“Being up on the wall for over a week and the hard climbing Tommy and Kevin have done up until now adds an element of difficulty on top of the hard climbing they have to do,” she wrote. “Imagine performing your very best after not walking for one week. I know Tommy has made an effort to try and do stretching, pushups, (and) yoga in the (hanging tent) hoping this might combat the unusual circumstances of living like veal between their climbing. So let’s hope for big things today. This climb definitely won’t be over until it’s over, but I believe it’s possible. Let’s go boys!!!”