UKC

Caldwell Abandons El Cap For This Year

© Rebecca Caldwell
Tommy Caldwell  © Rebecca Caldwell
Tommy Caldwell
American climber Tommy Caldwell has abandoned this year's attempts on the Dawn Wall project on Yosemite's El Capitan, California. The route is a difficult line linking the aid routes of Mescalito and Dawn Wall, which Caldwell and fellow American climber Kevin Jorgeson have been attempting to free climb for several years.

Caldwell's progress this year was followed closely by the climbing community as he regularly updated his Facebook page with his efforts.

Caldwell climbed the first twelve pitches free (which includes several 5.14 pitches) but was stumped by the desperate 13th pitch, which is estimated to be 5.14+. Caldwell, climbing with different partners but without Jorgeson who sustained an ankle injury earlier in the year, succeeded on the first 12 pitches in a single push style, sleeping in portaledges on the wall. After several rest days on the wall and multiple unsuccessful attempts at the 13th pitch, he descended to the valley to rest, and returned to the route to again try the elusive 13th pitch, still without success.

Image from the film PROGRESSION. Tommy Caldwell attempting to free his project on El Capitan, in Yosemite, CA.   © Photo by Corey Rich
Image from the film PROGRESSION. Tommy Caldwell attempting to free his project on El Capitan, in Yosemite, CA.
© Photo by Corey Rich

The route, around 30 pitches long, has seven 5.14 pitches and seven 5.13 pitches. The crux of the route is concentrated in the central section with pitches 13, 14 and 15 all estimated to be 5.14+. The 15th pitch starts with a huge dyno in a scary position, and it is this move that hospitalised Kevin Jorgeson earlier in the year.

Caldwell has perhaps not given up hope on this route completely; writing on his Facebook page after his unsuccessful attempts he alludes to a return to the route:

"A journey such as this is something I do because of a mysterious deep rooted curiosity. A want to explore not only what we see, but who we are. I have chosen to immerse myself in things grander than me. To stretch my imagination in a effort to learn what I can dig out of the depths of my being. It would empty without the allure of success. But it doesn't always end that way. At least for now.

Thanks again Dawn Wall for kicking my butt in a way that leaves me hungry to be more. Time will tell whether I return. But regardless, this project has left me profoundly inspired. I will be back."

El Capitan, Yosemite  © ChrisJD
El Capitan, Yosemite
© ChrisJD, Oct 2006

Related Videos: Caldwell and Jorgeson on El Cap Project


Tommy Caldwell has several sponsors including: Patagonia, Black Diamond and La Sportiva


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1 Dec, 2011
"Time will tell whether I return. But regardless, this project has left me profoundly inspired. I will be back." Slightly mixed messages there. Hope he is back, though. jcm
1 Dec, 2011
They should build a replica of the dyno and maybe some of the other cruxes and get them wired over the winter.
1 Dec, 2011
Does he have the number 2 finger, distal phalanx on his left hand missing? Or is it just me?
1 Dec, 2011
Yip. Wood saw accident.
1 Dec, 2011
Well, that just makes what he does ever the more amazing.
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