What Life Is Like at 3,000 Feet for Record-Breaking Climbers

Two men want to be the first to climb El Capitan's "Dawn Wall" without tools.

ByMEGHAN KENEALLY
January 6, 2015, 12:26 PM

— -- Two climbers are daring to climb one of the hardest stretches of granite in the world in Yosemite National Park with very little help.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are free-climbing the “Dawn Wall” of Yosemite's El Capitan mountain, which is the steepest half-mile stretch of granite that faces east toward the sun.

PHOTO: This Oct. 20, 2004 file photo shows the climbing face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
This Oct. 20, 2004 file photo shows the climbing face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Two men, Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell, are roughly halfway through climbing El Capitan: a free climb of a half-mile section of exposed granite in California's Yosemite National Park.
Ben Margot/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell are seen in this undated photo in their camp on the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.
Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell are seen in this undated photo in their camp on the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.
Courtesy Brett Lowell

If they reach their goal, they're going to make history by being the first to do so without the help of any tools.

Over the course of the climb, which began Dec. 27, they have been sleeping in nylon tents that are attached to the wall at only one point. As of this morning, Day 11, they are about 1,500 feet from the end and are expected to complete all 32 sections of the climb by this weekend.

"If you look at that wall, it looks like glass," said Big Up Productions filmmaker Josh Lowell, who has been filming their climbs for the past six years. "It's really difficult to imagine how anyone could free-climb it."

They've been eating their packed hard-boiled eggs and breakfast sandwiches with salmon and getting caffeine boosts from their flasks of coffee.

PHOTO: Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell are seen in this undated photo in their camp on the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.
Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell are seen in this undated photo in their camp on the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California.
Tom Evans/ElCap Report

The adventurers are able to stay in touch with their loved ones, and perfect strangers, using a cellphone and even hosted a tweet chat Monday, though they're avoiding calls because they want to stay focused on the climb.

"Pretty exciting, um, but it's far from over yet," Jorgeson said in a video released from the sixth day of the climb.

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