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Two Aim to Climb El Capitan’s Steepest Route, Without Ropes

Like a perpendicular lake of ice and over a half mile from base to tip, El Capitan remains one of the great challenges for all rock climbers. Now two climbers for the first time in history are taking the most vertical  of all of the 100 routes up the face and doing it without any ropes other than to catch their fall.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are scaling Dawn Wall at Yosemite National Park, and if they make it to the summit, it will be the first time the free climb feat will be accomplished.

“If they get it completed, it will be the hardest completed rock climb in the world,” said Tom Evans, who has spent half a century chronicling attempts to climb the wall. Evans scaled El Capitan via another route 48 years ago.

Watching though his camera, Evans observed Caldwell climb one of the most dangerous and challenging of all the pitches they need to conquer in order to reach the top. The Fresno Bee reported that Evans signaled to the several tourists watching the climbers to cheer, which could be heard by the daredevils some 1500 feet above.

“Things have been going unbelievably well,” Caldwell acknowledged in a phone interview he conducted at a temporary camp nestled 1200 feet above ground. “We worked on this so long, and it feels kind of like a different route this time. We’re just more prepared, the weather is working out great, and it’s been going super well. Having said that, this climb is never going to get done without some doubt and some moments like ‘Oh, my God, are we going to be able to do this?’ ”

In case you are thinking the twosome just started climbing and hoping they will miraculously get to the top, it’s not quite that easy. The dynamic duo have been mapping out the great dome, section by section, for five years.

Caldwell admits that “This is my Moby-Dick, for sure.” He says that “I love to play with my physical and mental limits and see how far I can push them, and I just love to dream big. And this project fulfills all those things.”

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