Page 3 Profile: Kevin Jorgeson & Tommy Caldwell, climbers


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The Independent Online

Don’t look down…

Two daring climbers determined to complete what has been branded “the world’s toughest rock climb” have reached the halfway point in their vertigo-inducing ascent. Americans Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are attempting to free climb a half-mile section of exposed granite in California’s Yosemite national park.

What makes this climb so arduous?

Jorgeson, 30, and Caldwell, 36, who are working their way up the near-vertical “Dawn Wall” of El Capitan, the largest slab of granite in the world, are “free climbing” the 3,000ft section using ropes only as a safeguard against falls. If they achieve their objective they will be the first climbers to ascend the wall without using any equipment to help pull themselves upwards.

Can’t they take the stairs?

The men are relying solely on their hands and feet to scale the face, which has been called “as smooth as alabaster” and “as steep as a bedroom wall”.

Are they up to the challenge?

“The guys are doing great,” said Josh Lowell, a filmmaker who has been documenting the men’s climbs for the past six years. Earlier this week he said they were resting and “trying to grow skin back on their fingertips so they can continue to do battle with the hardest climbing sections”.


Jorgeson and Caldwell, who are both from California, have literally been living life on the edge by sleeping in tents attached to the wall, though they have been availing of room service – in a manner of speaking. Other climbers, using ropes, have delivered supplies to their base, including water, pasta, fresh fruit and a bottle of whiskey “to take the edge off”. The pair have also been unwinding by watching films.

Hopefully they left gruesome climbing film 127 Hours at home…

That would probably be for the best. If everything goes to plan the climbers could be at the top as soon as Friday or Saturday.