ElCap Report 1/9/15  Special Dawn Wall Edition Day 14

Brought to you by “Adidas Outdoor”

By Tom Evans

Yo… Today's weather changed from sunny to cloudy, with a drop or two of rain, every now and then.  The conditions were better for climbing due to the absence of the direct sunlight on the rock.  It was humid and warm in the meadow but must have been pretty good on the rock, as Kevin had chosen this day to make his attempt on the notorious 15th pitch.  The crowd started gathering just after noon and grew with each passing minute.  It was a mixed group with quite a few Tourons who had been following the news and climbers who knew the significance of the climb and wanted to witness the historic event. 

For Kevin it was the day of reckoning.  In the last few days, Tommy had climbed way above Kevin’s high point, and he needed to get past these super difficult pitches, and catch up with Tommy at Wino Tower, and soon.  Kevin was feeling the pressure of all those days, months and years spent working on the route.  Success or failure, the die would be cast today, as he is running out of time and finger pads, so now it's fish or cut bait.


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

1)  Out he went, and off he came…the crowd moaned and Kevin retreated to the portaledge, to talk it over with Tommy before the next try.






























2)  After a time Kevin was ready and launched out onto the pitch again.  He appeared more relaxed and actually moved more quickly, and confidently.






























3)  By mid pitch his footwork was spot on and he seemed be working those micro holds as if they were buckets!  An excited buzz ran through the crowd.  I had my camera screen positioned so many of the crowd could look over my shoulder and watch the action up close.































4)  With every move the crowd got more and more excited and I started to narrate the action so those with little knowledge could understand just what they were seeing here.































5)  By mid pitch you could hear the people saying “Wow, look at that move,”  or “oh man, look at that”!






























6)  He looked relaxed almost and every time he reached for a hold … bang! He hit it right on the money and quickly moved on.






























7)  Soon enough he had reached the area he had just fallen on and the crowd tensed up, saying, “come on Kev.. you got this!”































8)  Soon he had gotten to the high step and heal hook move where you have to crank hard on shitty razor sharp finger tip holds.  This spot is where he had fallen so many times before and everyone tensed up and grew quiet, each person whispering … “come on Kevin… come on”.






























9)  He stayed on!!!  Then he had to pass the place he had just touched in the past before wheeling off.  I had studied my photos from previous tries and had noticed that his left foot was being placed just a bit short of the best part of the hold.  Not this time!  He hit that hold dead on the first try and cranked up with his fingers.  His hands held and he came into balance.






























10)  Down here it was getting pretty crazy.  Various people started to exclaim… “he’s gonna do it, he’s got it, he’s got it!”

And they were right… the difficulties were passed and he stepped over to the belay… and the crowd went wild.  When you get older, like I am, you will find that your emotions are very close to the surface and you will not contain them very well.  I started crying.. just couldn’t help it.. I was so happy for him, because I knew what this meant and how hard he had battled to be standing at that belay.































11)  He let out a scream that could be heard down here in the meadow!  And promptly jumped off the cliff!!  I think this shot tells it all!





























A while later he tried the Dyno and after a few tries, got that too!!  The air was electric and people who didn’t even know him were laughing and happy for him.

Few climbers will ever overcome the adversity and disappointment, Kevin has suffered during the past days.  Kevin Jorgeson, the man the naysayers had counted out… had shown them all what courage and tenacity could produce.  And hats off to his partner, Tommy Caldwell, whose strong character, and compassion for his friend, had given Kevin the chance he needed to succeed.  It was something to see and everyone left with a sense that they had seen something extraordinary happen this day.  I will remember it always!

In other news:  Guess what?  The climb is far from over and is in no way in the bag.  Difficult climbing lies ahead and anything could happen.  But on this day something very special had happened and has made it possible for the TEAM to continue the adventure.

So that’s the way it was, today, the 9th day of January, 2015.

Capt. Tom








One of your best

Hey Tom,

I have to say that even after reading the Report for many years and spending time at the Bridge with you, I think this is one of your best, if not the best Report. Thanks for sharing it with those of us who want to be there and can't.

See you in the Spring - you earned yourself a nice cigar from me for this one!

Travis (Stuck in Vegas and would rather be there!)

also one of your finest moments, Tom

Hey Tom- This report is great. Truly fabulous. I was right there with you as I read it and studied the photos. This report is also one of your finest moments.

Great writing and photo mashup. I'll admit I also got a little teary eyed. But then I looked at myself and had to laugh...eating a sticky bun in a chilly office on a monday morning, second breakfast...basically just getting softer and softer as I'm reading about Kevin tearing it up.

Great work -Johnny G

Dawn Wall Push

Thank you for posting detailed accounts of this incredible climb! I am totally enthralled...

KJ's heroic effort on pitch 15!

Such a great description and photos to boot. Like a live broadcast almost. We all owe you a debt of gratitude, Tom, for bringing this all home to us. Surely one of the great sporting moments of the new century is about to become a done thing.

John Long


Thanks so much for this, Tom! Wonderful shots and descriptions. Yay!!!

Are those chalk marks in the

Are those chalk marks in the little right facing corner just left and below the belay anchors??? Is that the downclimb Tommy did to avoid the dyno?

Pitch 15 and beginn of 16

I think the chalk marks in pic 10 is the downclimb, (it is right of the stance) the chalkmarks in pic 12 is the ascent again. (somewhat left of the stance)

Whats amazing is the impression, that from the stance at the end of the traverse the distance to the dehidral (which is the way further up) seems to be so smal that you can not imagine that it is not reachable (and the climbers have to do the sideway dyno from the flake above or the long loop).


PS: very nice report



What a great report

I am one of those tourons that you educated on the bridge a few years ago. It was the week that Hans and Yuri set the speed record on the nose. (You introduced me to one morning before a recon climb.) I'bre been a fan ever since. I'm still a touron. My idea of climbing is the Four Mile Trail.

Reading your report I got excited and the bottom of my feet started tingling. I have your site bookmarked and read it every day during peak season.

Once again, thanks for all the work you do promoting climbing and even educating tourons like me.


Good job on the 15th pitch Kevin. Keep the reports coming Tom. They are amazing.


Love the Recount

I am not there in person. But with Tom in the Valley I got my eyes. And knowing that Tom is inside the climbing world I guess I can say that I got eye's and ears in the valley for every good day of climbing. Also, I recently watched a Caldwell video piece talking about the Harding ascent... I started thinking how the news got out when Warren was up there... Thinking of the vast distance between the styles of ascent taking place here... I think, even if Tom had been in the Valley talking photos when Warren did it... the story would be nothing like the one we are treated to when he does what he does now. Thank you Tom. Rob

Awesome! Thanks Tom

Way to go Kevin!!!!

Thank you Tom

As always Tom, thanks for being there, thanks for capturing history, thanks for getting the photos posted, thanks for the commentary. It is deeply appreciated.

Many thanks

Mornin Cap'n

Many thanks, not only for this site, but even more for for being a patient, endless source of knowledge for we ground bound types that were lucky enuf to be there. Watching climbers can be somewhat like watching paint dry, but the high drama of this situation had everyone more engaged than normal. Your description of the reactions is spot on. The commonality of interest allowed our little group to meet and make new friends...the whole atmosphere was terrific.

To mom above, I so wish I had a photo of your little daughter sitting on top of her pack with her beanie on, bundled up and her binocs at the ready...soooo cute! Good on ya for allowing them to participate in such a scene.

Thanks too to our furry four legged friend for allowing us into his home and constantly circling to make sure everyone was doing ok.

Many there probably didn't realize there were climbers amongst us. One of the great benefits of being in the vicinity of Cap'n Tom is the chance to rub elbows with some of the greatest rock climbers in the world. Most of the time you might not even realize...not a lot of look at me going on. Thanks to Erik for the info, conversation and good humor.

Most of all, thanks to Kevin and Tommy!!

Tom, keep up the good work. You provide a service appreciated by probably more than you realize. This event undoubtedly will expand the interest in this site. I'm sure we don't realize the amount of work and sacrifice that goes into it! I think that most do realize the PASSION that does. All good be with you my friend. See you next climbing season if not sooner.


Phenomenal climbing by Kevin and Tommy, and a fantastic report to match. Thanks for this moving account of the action! Wish I could have been there!

Crisco in Utah

I let out a yelp of excitement when I saw the Facebook update yesterday! I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the conversation right before the send. I wonder what coaching Tommy offered. What mental process did Kevin experience to center himself for the effort. He had to have on his mind the need to send soon. The pressure had to be enormous! Now go get that Dyno pitc!!!!

Hi Tom

Great photos and commentary,Tom. The sequences shown in your pictures imply bigger holds: knowing how small they really are and how steep it is highlights Tommy and Kevin's stunning achievement. I have the same emotional response you do. Thanks. I hope all well. Best,Roger

Roger Breedlove
Brooklyn, NY

Yeah Kevin! Go dogs go!

Best El Cap report ever! Thank you Tom!!!

Inspiring people around the world

Tommy, Kevin, Tom and all the team involved in making this possible,

At a time when there is too much sadness in the news, thank you for providing us with such an uplifting story of human capacity in the face of adversity. How small the holds of Pitch 15 must have seemed, how heavy the weight of pressure must have been, and yet the boys got it done. Clearly there is still much climbing to be done, but when I read the final line I confess I let out a cheer from all the way down here in Melbourne, Australia (and kudos Tom for keeping us all gripping on for dear life right till the end of the report!!)

Stay safe, get 16 and the rest done, and may you continue to inspire yourselves as much as you are the rest of us!

Tom, Melbourne


This is seriously awesome news on the boys! Fantastic moment!!

Been there, done that - NOT

Yosemite is a beautiful place for sure, and on a recent visit there, I watched several of the climbers, a rare visual treat to a NYC boy who prefers elevators and stairs. two years ago I had the pleasure of seeing such events as your photos in person and it is definitely awe-inspiring. They guides there told of a paraplegic, injured in the war, Desert Storm (don't hold me to the lesser important details but the story is true) who recently came to conquer the Captain. He was wheelchair bound and knew what he was doing. He scaled the sheer cliff of El Capitan free hand - in something like four to six hours (I forget the time but it was less than eight hours and it was shockingly quick) - I repeat, he did it FREEHAND no ropes or safety equipment, shorts, tank top and some damn good footwear. Oh, I forgot the most important part, he was paraplegic, Oh, I said that, how about he didn't have any feeling in his legs. Yeah, he did it by pull ups, as it was explained and they counted them too. I don't remember the number but it came into focus as so many would be required and the world record for pull ups was assumingly not too much more. I never heard more about the record but it was something like 5K pull ups to get to the top. (Again, the details are from memory but they were seared in by such impressiveness). Your words of Kevin facing more adversity and disappointment those days than most do in a lifetime. Moreover, he chose to face it. That takes something very special. You must have a proud history to stand at the base after a life of climbing and be able to enjoy and recognize the innate details that make this special. You guys should take a trip little further west, Hollywood (really Studio City, et al) and sell the idea as a reality show. I would even consider that. The boob tube world will fawn over such bravery. Thank you for putting things in perspective this morning for me. Keep climbing. (I'll keep watching! :)


thanks for the nice comments about the sport... your memory doesn't serve you well however because no one at all has ever climbed ElCap without ropes in 6 hours.. trust me... but that matters little as the important thing is that in climbing like in life, challenges will arise and it will sometimes take extraordinary character to over come them.  Tom

Don't Trust the Tour Guides

My Memory is my disclaimer but the truth is I got this info on the bus that went around the park for Yosemite Lodge while their Guide told tales of such nature. I should assume these "guides" are exaggerating, apparently not just a little. Next time I stay at the Awani!
I have found records of just over three hours by some Germans going up the "Nose" one of the routes, but I'm sure you knew this, too as the route up makes the difference and there are noted 26 routes.

8 hours or 80 - even 800. It's all stunning as long as no one falls. Someone did back in the eighties and he returned, in a wheelchair and climbed it in eight days. This is probably the reference of which the guide spoke.


Thanks, Tom

Thanks for this report and all the others. These reports make it possible for those of us scattered around the world to feel pretty close to the action. mcreel

Go Team! Has to be the

Go Team! Has to be the hardest traverse ever climbed right? Freaky enough to be thin granite but traversing is another art as well


Karl Baba

Not quite?

Tom, you're saying that Kevin "did" the dyno pitch, 16, but he says he fell off the top on his Facebook page.


Yeah you're right... but he did do the dyno... I thought he would end the pitch at its end and just deal with the rest of the pitch as another pitch so if he fell he wouldn't have to repeat the dyno...thanks for the update.  Tom

Two pitches

I found this interesting too. That pitch is now two pitches, separated by a no-hands-rest, the requisite for a belay. Kevin still wanted to see if he could combine the two pitches, because it would be more badass. He did p16, but not p17.

Awesome pictures and write up!

We were so privileged to be there! The second my daughter got out of school; we jumped in the car and sped off for the meadow below El Cap. We entered the park, drove round the loop and hopped out of the car...

Literally within 30 second he'd sent 15! I couldn't believe it.

We stayed till after dark, watching the headlamp lights move around, but it looked like they were done for a while (and the kids were getting a bit tired of my need to watch the little lights on the big rock).

Cheers to letting us peer over your shoulder...

It was truly a historic day in the world of climbing! I can't believe I was able to be there to physically watch it!