Friday, January 16, 2015

The Dawn Wall Climb

The recent Dawn Wall climb by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen has been in all the major news outlets, and I have no idea why. I spent two long and bloody days trying to solo climb the Nose on El Cap about 200 yards to the left of their route back in 2010, pretty much in obscurity. Now the Dawn Wall is really flat, the first few hundred feet look overhanging and there are just no features. We're talking 5.12, 5.13, and some 5.14. Translated that means really hard, extremely hard, and downright 2:11 marathon hard. 

The thing is, these guys have been climbing hard stuff in Yosemite and elsewhere for near on 15 years close to this level. I guess from my perspective, I just don't see what sets this apart from something like Alex Honnolds Northwest Face of Half Dome, or Tommy Caldwell's two routes free climbed in one day, or Chris Sharma's latest hardest route in the world. It's really cool what they did. It's incredible actually. I have the Yosemite Big Wall guidebook at my parents house and there are no free climbing routes on that part of the wall. Yet at the same time how many times do alpinists push the limits and do something first and suffer so much and only receive a paragraph in a magazine or book.

In short, it's really cool what they did, these guys have earned the recognition they are getting from this, they should probably write a book, at least a coffee table book. But for those of you that only hear about this, and the Everest disaster, there is a whole community out there pushing the human limits in inhospital places. It's actually South Pole season,  Frédérick Dion even trekked and kite skied to the pole of inaccessibility this year, which is to say the hardest spot to get to. Plus, Lonie Dupre just summited Denali solo in January, on his fourth try, crazy. there is no cell coverage in those two locations, but there is in Yosemite Valley. So go out there read a Hermann Buhl book, and go play outside!

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