http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-30824372 (1:45 sec video)
El Capitan is a granite cliff-face in Yosemite National Park, California, USA, whilst the 'Dawn Wall' is the 914m / half-mile high face of El Capitan that first receives the sun in the morning. Kevin Jorgeson, 30, and Tommy Caldwell, 36, are the 2 nutters that on 14 January 2014, after more than 2 weeks of continuous free-climbing, finally made history by getting from the bottom to the top of the Dawn Wall.
The idea of rock-climbing for fun and/or sport first began in Victorian times (19th Century), yet the Dawn Wall was not fully climbed until 1958, which will give some idea of just how difficult it is:-
That ascent in 1958, however, was performed using all the climbing
aids then available. This most recent climb used ropes & used
harnesses (they slept each day in a tent fixed to the rock), but
To give some examples, this time of year was chosen so that it is cold; in addition, all the climbing was done at night - that helps to reduce wear on the skin. Both men have lost nails on this climb, and have even used superglue to help speed up repair to their hands mid-climb.
Kevin Jorgeson first began climbing El Capitan at age 15 with his father, and then every year since. He & Tommy Caldwell have spent 8 years attempting this free-climb (something that many others have declared impossible). Yesterday they finally proved those sceptics wrong.
--------- Alex Kemp