Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Je Suis Tommy Caldwell; Je Suis Kevin Jorgensen:" Climbing the Dawn Wall

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen
on Yosemite's Dawn Wall

This looks crazy hard. And it is. 3,000 vertical feet of glacier polished granite, 19 days, 32 pitches (rope lengths), two of them rated 15.4d on climbing's scale of difficulty, which makes this "among the hardest (free climbing) sections of rock ever climbed in the world:" the Dawn Wall on Yosemite's Half Dome. They say Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen's were seven years in preparation, scoping the route, trying individual pitches, falling repeatedly, saved only by safety ropes and harnesses that did not fail.  

Granted, man has been out of Africa for 50,000 years, and who knows what crazy stunts we've tried over the millennia. Yet, it seems likely that Oetzi's adventures were more utilitarian.

Why do we admire this feat? Why are we fascinated by it? We are drawn to root for their success just as we are drawn to any activity that combines years of dedication, supreme skill, and uncommon performance. If this becomes repeated regularly, it will be as skillful, but it will no longer capture our imagination.

But for today, we are Tommy Caldwell, we are Kevin Jorgensen. They have climbed for us .... and they didn't kill or get killed in the process. That's something.




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