BD athletes Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell attempt a new free route on El Capitan—Dispatch #5
Black Diamond athletes Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell have teamed up this fall for an attempt at free climbing a new 1000-meter route on Yosemite's El Capitan that roughly follows the aid line Mescalito. Caldwell, the most accomplished El Cap free climber in the world, has already spent quite a few days on the route, sussing out the feasibility of freeing the line—one that he unequivocally calls the hardest he has ever attempted on El Cap. Jorgeson, an El Cap rookie but a news-maker for his bold bouldering ascents and last year's spree of gritstone repeats in the UK, will be sending us iPhone dispatches from the wall, with photos, video and updates on the attempt.
Follow along here in the Black Diamond Journal as we publish Jorgeson's exclusive dispatches!
From: Kevin Jorgeson
Subject: Dispatch 5
Date: November 30, 2009 1:56:45 PM MST
After two months of work, we are certain that the route is possible. We have figured out exactly where the route goes (not as easy as it sounds), done all but 2 or 3 moves and have stuck the dyno. After this season, I think we both feel a lot better about the project. It's nice to KNOW what you are getting into to.
Since the last dispatch, we have spent several days working very hard on the pitches that connect the Molar Traverse on Mescalito to the dihedrals on the New Dawn Wall. With 200' of dead vertical, super hard, right to left traversing, it's easily the most technical section of the route. It's crazy that the crux of this route is, literally, right in the middle of El Cap! Such an amazing location. If I had to describe these pitches in one word, I would say: intimidating. They are intimidating for their location (you're in the middle of the freaking sky), their difficulty (Tommy calls them perhaps the hardest pitches of his life), and their sustained nature (when you leave the belay, you know you are going to be fighting for it for at least half an hour).
Toward the end of the season, Tim Kemple and Pete Vintoniv came out to the Valley to shoot photos and video. I wish I could share the result, but you'll have to wait until spring! The day they arrived, the clouds rolled in the the rain began to fall. We spent our morning over-caffinating in the Ahwahnee until, in the late afternoon, the rain stopped falling and we began our trek up the East Ledges. The clear weather was not to stay however, and by the top we got to the top of the fixed lines, the rain was back. The higher we got, the and more snow accumulated on the granite slabs that lead to the top. In the morning, we awoke to a very snowy, beautiful view of Yosemite.
We spent 3 days living on the wall again, going for it on all the hardest pitches. Progress will come in baby steps on this route I think. It's all about the little breakthroughs. A move here and a move there. A new sequence. A hidden rest. Everything must be figured out to the finest details for these crux pitches. I can't wait to get back on the route. Tommy and I are planning on returning in March for another round of climbing (or beating, depending on how you look at it). I'm psyched to have a full winter bouldering season ahead of me, as there is no such thing as having too much power for this route. It combines all climbing skills, from endurance, to stamina, to power, to precision. Thanks for reading and stay tuned in March for another round of dispatches!