THEY DID IT. Tommy Caldwell and partner Kevin Jorgeson have just successfully completed the first freeclimb of the Dawn Wall, the toughest route up El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Caldwell first conceived the idea of the climb in 2007 and has been working towards it ever since. Today marks the successful end to Caldwell’s seven-year-long relationship with the Dawn Wall.
Considered to be one of the hardest climbs in the world due to its extremely blank face, the Wall has never been climbed without pulling on gear to aid in the ascent. Caldwell and Jorgeson successfully climbed each pitch using only the natural features of the rock and their own physical strength and endurance, with a rope to catch them in case of a fall.
“When we first climbed the North American Wall on El Cap in 1964, we thought, ‘Well, that proves that any big wall in the world can be climbed.’ We never dreamed they could be climbed all free!” notes Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner. “Sending the Dawn Wall leaves Pope Francis with no choice but to admit our closest relative is the chimpanzee.”
Caldwell, 36, has been part of the Patagonia family since 2008. He climbed his first route in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park at the age of 3. Today he is recognized as one of the best all-around climbers of his time and is currently one of National Geographic’s 2015 Adventurers of the Year. In February 2014, with partner Alex Honnold, Caldwell also completed the first ascent of the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia’s Fitz Roy massif – an iconic alpine objective encompassing seven major summits in one five-day push.
“We’re proud to count Tommy as part of the Patagonia family. This is a riveting story that has captured the world’s attention, due to both the sheer challenge of the climb and Tommy’s and Kevin’s persistence,” notes Jimmy Hopper, Patagonia’s global alpine marketing manager. “Tommy is ambitious but modest and he approaches climbing in the cleanest style without shortcuts.”
Caldwell resides in Estes Park, Colorado, with his wife and young son.