Professional climber Kevin Jorgeson is desperately trying to hang on to his record-breaking dream with hands so battered he has fallen off a section of Yosemite's El Capitan mountain eight times over the past two days.
“My battle with Pitch 15 continues. After 6 years of work, my #DawnWall quest comes down to sending this pitch. Last night, I experienced a lightness and calm like never before. Despite failing, it will always be one of my most memorable climbing experiences. On my 4th attempt, around 11pm, the razor sharp holds ripped both the tape and the skin right off my fingers. As disappointing as this is, I'm learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I'm not giving up. I will rest. I will try again. I will succeed,” Jorgeson posted Wednesday on Instagram.
The rocky edges Jorgeson is struggling to grasp as he attempts to climb El Capitan with his climbing partner, Tommy Caldwell, are only as deep as a single matchstick but are as sharp as cut class.
Jorgeson is now three sections behind Caldwell, who is well past the halfway point to successfully free-climbing the mountain’s “Dawn Wall,” the steepest half-mile stretch of granite that faces east toward the sun.
If they reach their goal, they will make history by being the first to do so without the help of any tools.
“If Kevin gives a couple of more days of effort and he doesn’t succeed, at that point he’ll probably make the decision to kind of throw in the towel on his behalf so Tommy can succeed,” said Big Up Productions filmmaker Brett Lowell, who has been filming the pair's climb.
Caldwell posted on Facebook Wednesday that in order to help his own hurting fingers, he wakes up every four hours to apply a special sanding chalk to his hands that decreases moisture and reduces slipping.
“Is crazy to think that the skin on our fingertips could be the limiting fact towards success or failure,” Caldwell wrote.
Over the course of the climb, which began Dec. 27, Caldwell and Jorgeson have been sleeping in nylon tents that are attached to the wall at only one point. They've been eating their packed hard-boiled eggs and breakfast sandwiches with salmon and getting caffeine boosts from their flasks of coffee.