ElCap Report 1/7/15  Special Dawn Wall Edition Day 12

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By Tom Evans

Yo… the unseasonably warm weather continues here, much to the delight of the Tourons and detriment of the climbers.  The men have been forced to climb at night, so the rock will be cold enough for their specialized climbing shoes to get maximum traction.  Tommy is really on a roll now and has past the major technical difficulties of the climb.  Kevin is nursing finger injuries, but with a little rest I think he too can get past the hardest parts.  They are a team, and each has spent many days and weeks over the past years working on this climb.  Late this evening, Tommy put the 17th pitch behind and as I departed was starting the 18th.

Today’s ElCap Report..written just for you….unique in all the world!

The media feeding frenzy continued here, but I was able to escape the phone and computer later in the afternoon, to get to the meadow and see what was going on.

1)  This local guy was working the crowd late in the day, hoping for a handout or two.  He is a common sight here and as tame a shy dog.  We don’t feed him however, because human food is normally not good for him and he knows how to hunt.





























2)  Around 4pm Tommy left “The Camp” and ascended the photographer’s ropes to the start of the 17th pitch.





























3)  The sunlight was rapidly moving off that part of the wall, as the cool evening settled in.































4)  A short time later, Kevin left camp to go up and work the 17th with Tommy.  Kevin is taking it easy, hoping to recover from the beating his hands took over the past few days.  He was also hoping to get some climbing in on that pitch.





























5)  Tommy is seen here discussing the photographer’s rope placement and camera angle with Corey Rich, one of the best climbing themed photographers on the planet.  Corey is in yellow.





























6)  As the sun sunk lower in the sky, and we started to get pretty cold in the meadow, Tommy started the 17th pitch.  Surprisingly he decided to climb shirtless.  We were freezing our butts off down in the meadow but the temperature on the wall was quite warm, as the heat rises in the afternoon.





























7)  The 17th is mostly hard face climbing, up a thin, wandering seam in the rock.  Tommy cruised the lower part.






























8)  Tommy cruising!!






























9)  Tommy’s smooth style and precise footwork enabled him to make good time up the nearly featureless face.






























10)  The great rock glowed orange as the setting sun lit up the great south west face, and the upper part of the south east face, of El Capitan.  Another day here, in the books.




























They climbed into the night and Tommy got the 17th done and then went to work on the 18th.  I left, as the darkness made it impossible for me continue shooting and it was really getting cold!

The climb has a reached a critical point and it will be interesting to see how events unfold.  Kevin needs to get the 15th and 16th done so they can continue on to the upper part of the route.  He is so close to having the 15th done, that I think it is only a matter of a couple more tries before he gets it.  Then they can leave the lower, more difficult pitches, behind and concentrate on the upper wall.  They should make better time up there as the climbing is somewhat easier, but by no means easy.  Nothing is easy up there. 

There is all kinds of speculation, floating around, as to what the climbers will do.  I am of the opinion that, since Kevin has put in years on the project too, he should have the say as to what will be done about the 15th pitch.  If he feels he can send, then the team should give it more time and let him do all the tries he wants.  Kevin should go at it until HE either sends, or concedes that, under the present conditions, he will not be able to finish that pitch.  There is only 10ft that he is having problems with, due to badly torn up fingers. 

Tommy is moving ahead now and perhaps Kevin can climb above the 15th and knock off easier pitches and then come back to the 15th before they are high enough to move the Camp up. Friendships can fray in these types of situations and we hope their continued partnership will remain solid.  The first ascent of the Dawn wall, by Harding and Dean Caldwell, in 1970, ended up with the climbers feuding and hostile to each other. The forecast is for more warm and sunny days, which certainly doesn't help the situation. My thoughts are ..my thoughts.. They are highly specutlative and my opinon only, derived from very sketchy information and may not be accurate.  Just something to think about.

On a personal note, this whole media rush has been interesting for me, as most of the media seem to have my email!! Everyone wants to interview the climbers on the phone and I get to tell them that the men want to concentrate on the climbing and not be distracted by the news coverage.  I get up early to handle foreign information requests and later in the morning work on the domestic stuff.  Although I have no PR training I have been able to keep the information flowing and the media happy! 

I don’t know what is planned for tomorrow but you can be sure that your man, Captain Tom, will be right in the thick of the action and will give, as always, an informed and accurate report on all the action!

So that’s the way it is, on this Wednesday, the 7th day of January, 2015.

Capt. Tom, signing off for the night.



Thanks Tom! Really

Thanks Tom! Really appreciate all you do!

El Cap

Tom: great work. Your work over the years is getting the attention it deserves.


the crap do they do what they are doing? ;-)

Thanks Tom

I'm one of many who stopped by and thanked you in person last weekend. Thanks again for doing what you do. It's great to be able to check this stuff out from my cube!!! THANKS TOM!!!

Finger tips heal kinda slow.

Finger tips heal kinda slow. Super Glue (may not be the healthiest long term) is the way to patch that stuff up for the send (although maybe nothing holds up to crimping granite 5.14+)

Intending the Sending



Thank you Tom!

Excellent work Tom!

I am a cubicle puke from the beginning and I gotta say you have given us all a front row seat to this historic climb.

Thank you!


Love it Tom! Thanks as

Love it Tom! Thanks as always!


As if you weren't already the

As if you weren't already the most popular guy in Yosemite! I am glad you are back in the Valley to keep us up to date. Thanks Tom.

Awesome as

Awesome as always,Tom.




That coyote looked pretty healthy.