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Two Climbers are Projecting the 32-Pitch Dawn Wall 5.14d

The famous big wall line has only been free-climbed by three climbers: Tommy Caldwell, Kevin Jorgeson and Adam Ondra

Photo by: Phil Dunn

The Dawn Wall is one of the most famous and difficult big wall routes in the world. It climbs the sweeping southeast face of El Capitan in Yosemite, a nearly 1,000-metre granite wall. It’s graded 5.14d and climbs 32 pitches.

The first ascent was by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson in January 2015 over weeks of redpointing the pitches without leaving the wall. It’s only been repeated by Adam Ondra over a week in November 2016. The film Dawn Wall film documents the struggles of big wall free climbing. Caldwell had famously completed the 5.14d pitch-15 traverse, but Jorgeson kept falling, for days. Caldwell waits and waits and until Jorgeson sends and they top out to international media attention.

Europeans Siebe Vanhee and Seb Berthe have been working away on the Dawn Wall since early January, when Yosemite climber Chris Van Leuven, who lent them some hardware for the climb told us, “They said they’ll be up there for as long as it takes.” Both have plenty of Yosemite experience. Vanhee climbed the 35-pitch El Corazon 5.13b over four days in 2017 with Nico Favresse. And Berthe is the only climber to free The Nose 5.14 ground up.

The Dawn Wall stacked with hard pitches, here’s the breakdown: 12b, 13a, 13c, 12b, 12d, 13c, 14a, 13d, 13c, 14a, 13c, 14b, 13b, 14d, 14d, 14c, 14a, 13c, 13c, 13c, 13c, 12c, 9, 11, 11, 11d, 11c, 12c, 12b, 13a, 12a, 12b. Celebrate.

The Dawn Wall


Lead photo: Phil Dunn