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|Submitted by Tom Evans on Thu, 01/15/2015 - 17:32|
ElCap Report 1/14/15 Special Dawn Wall Edition Day 19
Brought to you by Adidas Outdoor
By Tom Evans
Yo.. Spectacular weather continued to be one of the main factors in the “Climb of the Century” aka “The most difficult rock climb in the world.” I got to the meadow this morning around 8am and the climbing didn’t start until 9am. The team had spent the night on the “Ship’s Bow” and had 4 difficult pitches to do today. I got word from Tommy that their intended ETA on the top would be pushed back from noon to about 3pm. The world had also arrived at the ElCap meadow and massive media coverage, including, live streaming video, was beamed all around the world! The crowd was large and a forest of “Big Gun” telephoto lenses put my little rig to shame! A festive atmosphere soon developed as the sun came over the ridge to the south and the meadow warmed in the bright California sun. The climb was far from over and by now you know the outcome. Pictures of the event are everywhere, so mine will add little to the history of the event on this day. But, I will post some of mine so you loyal readers can see what I saw and felt on this historic occasion.
Today’s ElCap Report..written just for you..unique in all the world!
1) The “line-up” soon filled with cars and media vehicles.
1a) My last early morning, in the cold meadow, shooting the climb. Photo by Lincoln Turner who was out there watching and shooting too. Thanks!
2) Tommy Caldwell’s family gathered in the meadow, and were taken to various media stations for interviews. Here they are being interviewed by GMA’s crew, with camera man Steve and sound man Kem on the job.
3) Up on the Cap, the team was seen breaking down the bivy on the Bow.
4) At 9am Tommy lead off on the first of 4 difficult pitches that would lead to the summit and the culmination of 7 years of long and lonely days aside the mighty cliff.
5) The climbing was mostly liebacking on the first part of the pitch which Tommy cruised.
6) The crux is extricating yourself from a tight chimney onto a 12a lieback to easier climbing. Here Tommy is taking a no-hands rest in the top of the chimney.
7) Tommy passed the crux and traversed straight right across some slabby underclings to the start of down climbing on sawblade flake, at the end of the pitch.
8) Soon Kevin was following. The entire pitch is seen in this shot. Unfortunately Kevin skated out of the chimney, as the old Captain was not about to be taken without a fight!
9) Kevin completed the pitch anyway, to get an idea of what he had to face. After a time, he returned to the belay and climbed the pitch again. This time he sent it and is seen here about to down climb to the belay Tommy had set earlier.
10) The first pitch had taken 3 hours before it was over and there was a feeling going through the crowd that the team might not make the top today. If the other pitches took this long the summit would be reached at 9pm, in total darkness! Tommy was soon out on the lead on the next pitch, a long traversing down climb, rated at 12b. Tommy took his time working along the pitch as a fall could be dangerous and they couldn’t afford the time of re-climbing it!
11) Difficult moves on thin holds pestered his efforts but his calm demeanor and excellent footwork carried him to the end of the pitch.
12) Soon Kevin was on the move and did well on the pitch with no falls. That pitch took an hour and they were back in the fight for the summit in daylight.
13) The next pitch was the technical crux at 13c but fortunately, the crux was just a few feet off the belay, so a fall would not be so costly in time. Kevin got the call, as he is an excellent face climber, as is Tommy. Kevin was quickly airborne! Then he fell again… but got it on his third try.
14) Kevin quickly finished off the delicate face climbing and was soon speeding up the 12a corner.
15) Kevin finished the lead and got a fist bump from the photographer working there. Now they were back in a good time frame for a summit top out on schedule and the crowd knew it. Every time a pitch was passed we all hooted and cheered them on and they responded with waves and fist pumps.
16) Soon Tommy was on the pitch and promptly fell off! It kind of warmed my heart that the Captain was not letting them pass without taking a few swipes at them, on the way by!
17) But by now they had the momentum and it was just a matter of time until they reached the top! Tommy had the last pitch and was quickly out on the lead.
18) The crowd was buzzing with excitement as we awaited the final moment when the team would reach the top. Tommy made the top and turned outward with a hands raised high and the crowd responded with cheers and for some of us, tears!
19) Kevin was soon on the last part and speeded to the top.
20) They met on the last belay and embraced.. it was a moment of many cheers and tears for all of us involved in more than just watching the action!! It was 3:06pm.
So, on a spectacular mid winters day, the two men finished what had started as a crazy dream, with little hope of success. The experts said it couldn’t be done. We climbers were supportive but had our doubts… I watched them over the years and came to realized that if it could possibly be done, these two men were the TEAM to do it. They had the determination, and tenacity to work the route out over 7 years of many failures and disappointments. A favorite line from Star Wars tells the tale..”The force is strong in these men!” Their skill is beyond question, but in all great endeavors, the linchpin is not just skill. In the event itself, the character, integrity, and tenacity of these men was severely tested and proven, and these things lead them to the summit of their dreams.
So, as the “hardest rock climb in the world” passed into history and legend, the crowd dispersed, and I stood for a time looking at the great rock and thought back through the years of my own struggles to climb its ramparts. The dreams I had as a young man have long since been fulfilled, and now, as an old man, I look back and feel my own, quiet love for the adventures and the wonderful people who have shared those same dreams. That is why I keep coming back to the great rock, year after year, no longer as a climber, but as a man in the twilight of life, still seeking the warmth and wonder of shared adventures. I will see you in the spring, when the Valley will be reborn with new life and color and we will once again assemble, to continue the dream.
So that’s the way it was, on this great day, the 14th day of January, 2015.
Capt. Tom… signing off from the epicenter, of the center, of the universe.