Historic free climb in Yosemite Park highlights lesson for all who watched

By: Josie Speltz

After seven years of possessing the same ambitious dream, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are finally able to say that they have fulfilled it. On Jan. 14, they reached the top of the El Capitan’s Dawn Wall which stretches up 3,000 feet into the air. This was just 19 days after their initial ascent up the mountain. Their climb marked them as the first two people to ever free climb the Wall, which is thought of to be one of climbing’s most difficult challenges because it is widely conceived as being too steep and not having enough cracks to free climb.

Jorgenson and Caldwells’ progress up the mountain was charted throughout the entire 19 days by the climbing world. They had set in their goal to have only 32 pitches (sections of rope). These pitches would only be there to catch them in case of an emergency fall. The rest was up to their hands, feet and own will to keep pushing forward toward their one common dream.

On the 15th pitch, Jorgenson started having difficulties. Caldwell, being a more experienced climber was able to make it past the most difficult part moving at a quick pace. Jorgenson, on the other hand, continued to fall time after time having to restart at the beginning of the pitch each time. Yet with the encouragement of Caldwell and his determination to make his dream a reality, he was able to make it up the past the difficult part.

Once they had made it to the top, they were met by 40 friends and family, as well as numerous reporters who were all waiting anxiously for them. Caldwell and Jorgensen embraced one another and their spouses as they looked out onto what they had been working so hard for the past two and a half weeks.

After understanding all of the hardships and what dedication it took to accomplish such an incredible task, some may ask, why do they do it? In an interview with the New York Times, Caldwell said, “For me, I love to dream big, and I love to find ways to be a bit of an explorer. These days it seems like everything is padded and comes with warning labels. This just lights a fire under me, and that’s a really exciting way to live.”

So for him it wasn’t about being the first to ever climb the wall freehanded; it was about bringing a dream to life and being able to commit himself to something so empowering. Jorgenson added to Caldwell in saying, “I hope it inspires people to find their own Dawn Wall, if you will. We’ve been working on this thing a long time, slowly and surely. I think everyone has their own secret Dawn Wall to complete one day, and maybe they can put this project in their own context.”

So what will your Dawn Wall be? What is going to make you push yourself to your full potential? No matter how ambitious you may think your dream is, go out there, and do whatever it takes to conquer it. Make your Dawn Wall a reality.

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