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The Importance of Dawn Wall

As the days add up on the Dawn Wall, more and more news sources are getting wind of the climb and its importance. Gripped’s editor Brandon Pullan spoke with the nation-wide weather source, The Weather Channel, on Jan. 9 about the climb.

The Weather Channel sent a reporter to Yosemite to cover the Dawn Wall story. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, they called Pullan, who is based in Canmore:

Despite getting some of the facts wrong, they had only great things to say about the “amazing, historical event.” With climbing going in the direction it’s going and becoming more mainstream every year, any good news is welcome. Why? Because the public’s opinion matters when it comes to access issues, national parks and how we use our land.

Pullan’s short interview with The Weather Channel came on the heels of Kevin Jorgeson climbing the potentially decisive pitch 15.

Kevin Jorgeson celebrating after sending pitch 15  Photo Tom Evans
Kevin Jorgeson celebrating after sending pitch 15 Photo Tom Evans

After the send, Tommy Caldwell wrote on his Facebook page:

“The last few days have been some of the most memorable climbing days of my life. Yesterday I finished the last two 5.13+ pitches of the climb. This marks the end of the major difficulties. I kind of lost it when I pulled onto Wino Tower knowing that this seven year dream is looking more and more like it could become a reality. Now I’m in full support mode until Jorgeson catches up. Today, he managed to climb pitch 15 in the most inspired climbing moment of his life. It was such an intense and incredible thing to witness. It’s not over yet, but things are looking good.”

Tommy Caldwell high on the Dawn Wall  Photo Corey Rich
Tommy Caldwell high on the Dawn Wall Photo Corey Rich

The psych for Caldwell and Jorgeson is building and the longer they’re in the mainstream media, the better it is for the sport. Even though, many climbers now have to explain to their friends and parents what “free climbing” is.

For too long, climbing has only received coverage after negative events, such as the 2014 avalanche on Mount Everest or one of the tragic deaths in the last few years. People who once questioned the relevance of the sport now find themselves on the edge of their seats rooting for Caldwell and Jorgeson. They’re not alone, some of the world’s best climbers obsessively check for updates from the wall. Companies who don’t sponsor Caldwell or Jorgeson are cheering for them.

Yesterday, Joshua Tree Skin Care wrote on Facebook, “Neither Caldwell nor Jorgeson are Jtree athletes. However, when something this big is happening in climbing it deserves a little recognition from every corner of the community. We don’t care who’s recovery salve you’re using, just get up that thing. Go get it boys, we’re all rooting for you on this one.”

When Caldwell and Jorgeson aren’t climbing, doing yoga, push-ups or eating, they’re often doing business online. They answer questions from fans and media around the world, which in turn exposes more people to the sport. For the first time in history, Caldwell and Jorgeson are bringing people along for the climb through sites like Facebook and Instagram. It’s a bonus they some of the best photographers there to capture the action.

Caldwell and Jorgeson’s free climbing style will be discussed for years by experienced climbers. Some suggesting the ascent doesn’t count unless they both free it. However, the general public doesn’t care that Caldwell downclimbed some of pitch 15 on toprope to bypass the dyno on pitch 16 and therefore established an extra belay and new pitch 17.

The general public only cares that, “Two adventures are freeclimbing without any ropes the hardest climb in history.” And that’s good enough.

Caldwell and Jorgeson have climbed the most difficult sections of the route. Caldwell’s climbed all of the 5.13+ pitches. It seems the end is in sight and an eight-year dream has come true. But as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Kevin Jorgeson's hands after pitch 15  Photo Jorgeson's Facebook page
Kevin Jorgeson’s hands after pitch 15 Photo Jorgeson’s Facebook page