At the turn of the year the exploits of two rock-climbers made history by climbing the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in California. Basically it’s a sheer more or less flat rock face about twice as high as London’s Shard. Over 19 excruciating days Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, inched their way up in a precisely planned route. With ropes only to catch them when they fell, they clung on to the tiniest jagged edges, jamming their tortured fingers into the smallest gaps to haul themselves higher. The odd day was spent waiting for their hands to heal – because they were in shreds. And there were the stretches of the climb that took eleven attempts to complete. As you’ll hear, Tommy actually describes that moment of triumph as, “a bit of a bummer” Incidentally Tommy Caldwell only has 9 fingers- he lost one in a DIY accident 14 years ago. Adrian Chiles spoke to Kevin and Tommy earlier; Adrian began by asking how Tommy’s remaining 9 fingers are having been shredded on the rocks.
To view a great article from the National Geographic with pictures and videos click here
“The Dawn Wall has been the only constant in my life for the past seven years. Everything else changed, but the Dawn Wall has still been there”. Tommy Caldwell