Two daredevil climbers are just hours away from being the first to complete what is arguably the world’s hardest rock climb.
‘El Capitan’ is the iconic, imposing 800m wall of granite that looms over California’s Yosemite National Park.
Kevin Jorgeson, 30, and Tommy Caldwell, 36, began scaling it on December 27 in an attempt to be the first climbers to conquer its “Dawn Wall” face in a free climb. That means they’re not using any tools besides their hands and feet.
They hoped to complete the final 300m by this weekend, but Jorgeson is having trouble keeping his fingertips in one piece while negotiating a tricky spot.
Here’s what climbing a huge rock for 12 days does to your fingertips:
It’s their third attempt at the wall. Ropes are obviously used for safety, and good thing too, because they’ve had a few falls and dodged the odd ice block tumbling down from above.
How do you sleep when you’re crawling across a vertical rock face? Carefully:
Dizzying heights? Oh yes.
Don’t forget, it’s mid-winter in California. Caldwell says while that’s great for keeping their food fresh, it’s not so good when it comes to high winds, ice storms and freezing toes.
Two men on a ledge.
Last night, Jorgeson hit a snag. He’s attempted “Pitch 15” four times and is yet to negotiate it.
“On my 4th attempt, around 11pm, the razor sharp holds ripped both the tape and the skin right off my fingers. As disappointing as this is, I’m learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I’m not giving up.”
Caldwell is showing the same resolve but managed to make it Pitch 16. Jorgeson may need to take a day out to rest his fingertips before following.
“Some of the smallest and sharpest holds I I have have ever attempted to hold onto. Is crazy to think that the skin on our fingertips could be the limiting fact towards success or failure.”
Both men try to limit the risk of tearing their fingertips by sanding them smooth.
The duo have been posting pics and details of their climb thanks to portable solar panels for power. They even hosted a live Q+A session on Tuesday.
Here’s a report from ABC News in America with some amazing footage of the climb from Big Up Productions:
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