The Dawn Wall

You’ve almost certainly seen the amazing free-climbing ascent of El Capitan’s Dawn Wall completed this week by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson. (If not, here’s a nice write-up.)  To put it into perspective, “sending” a 5.12 and above pitch means you’re a GREAT rock climber. The Dawn Wall is an unbroken stretch of 32 pitches from 5.12 to 5.16 (which is basically unmeasurable).

Caldwell and Jorgeson lived on the wall for 19 days. The ascent could be a business book in itself, but here are some things I personally took away from this in terms of tackling massive challenges:

Prepare like crazy. Jorgeson and Caldwell spent five years working on various pitches and trying the wall in all seasons.

– Don’t be tripped up by what you perceive as handicaps (I’m too young, too old, too shy, don’t have the degree – whatever). Tommy Caldwell has nine fingers.

– There will always be a really, really, insanely tough part and you will need to push through it. It took Jorgeson a week to complete pitch 15.

– Share your struggle. The climbers tweeted, Facebooked, and Instagrammed their way up the wall, were visible to everyone, and were honest about the tough parts. The world loved them for this and cheered them on. 

– The impossible is only impossible until it’s done.


Photo by Mitchell Cipriano. Creative Commons 2.0.