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Second climber clears hardest stretch on Yosemite wall

Kevin Jorgensen got through one of the most difficult stretches of El Capitan's "Dawn Wall" after days of trying, allowing him to catch up with his climbing partner Tommy Caldwell.

Hands torn and bleeding, the second of two men attempting a grueling climb up a half-mile of sheer granite in California's Yosemite National Park cleared one of the ascent's most difficult stretches after days of failed attempts and waiting.

Growing crowds of onlookers at the foot of the Dawn Wall at Yosemite's El Capitan peak broke into cheers — and some tears — Friday when Kevin Jorgeson finally grasped a razor-sharp hold that had eluded him, clipped an anchor to secure himself, then shouted in triumph, according to online accounts by colleagues at the scene.

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"Pure joy," Jorgeson wrote afterward on his Facebook page, next to a photograph showing his bloody, bandaged hands.

Jorgeson, 30, of Santa Rosa, California, and Tommy Caldwell, 36, of Colorado are two weeks into what is billed as the first free climb of the vertical Dawn Wall to reach the 3,000-foot summit of El Capitan. Free climb means the men are climbing without the aid of pegs, ropes or other gear to help them ascend, although they are using safety gear to guard against what could be deadly falls.

Friday's climb keeps Jorgeson in the effort, after Caldwell moved several segments ahead of him. Caldwell is now 2,000 feet up, about 1,000 feet from finishing. Support crews have said they hope the two men will reach the top by mid-next week.