• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
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  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
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  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
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  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
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  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
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  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
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  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
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  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
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  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
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  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
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  • Video Spotlight
    FOREVER – It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
    FOREVER – It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
    Weekend Whipper: Alastair McDowell's Los Indignados (M7) Screamer
     



    TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing

    12-Jan-2015
    By Duane Raleigh

    Tommy Caldwell, hooked up on the <em>Dawn Wall</em>. Photo: Corey Rich.As I write this, Tommy Caldwell, 36, and Kevin Jorgeson, 30, are pushing hard on the Dawn Wall. On Friday, Jorgeson completed pitch 15, an especially vexing 5.14d that Caldwell had sent, but which had stymied Jorgeson. With that pitch behind them both now, they are poised to complete what will be the all-time most difficult rock climb.

    They have been on the wall since December 27 without coming down. Caldwell has the crux pitches behind him, and said on Friday that “It’s not over yet, but things are looking good.” If Caldwell simply wanted to free the Dawn Wall, he probably would already have topped out. But, this is a team ascent. Both climbers will free the entire wall, or fail.

    But you know all of this. At Rockandice.com we’ve been posting nearly daily updates. Untold photographers and videographers are on site, capturing the action and dispersing it practically intergalactically. Caldwell and Jorgeson have been posting frequent updates on Facebook. Most national media is covering the ascent—the New York Times has published no less than six articles. Not only will the Dawn Wall end up being the most difficult rock climb, it will also be the most broadcast. Thanks to the Internet and cell phones, millions of people can stay tuned in to progress.

    This connectivity has prompted comments from climbers and non-climbers that adventure is dead. “Where is the solitude?” posted “’Deeply Imbedded’ on newyorktimes.com. “With twitter, and the stupidity of smart devices it all becomes a questionable joke. Imagine the solitary mountain man with a smart phone—So much for any spirituality of endeavor.”

    The image of a Solitary Mountain Man braced against the wind, disconnected from the rest of humanity and pushing for the summit is romantic, but I wonder if it ever really existed beyond the likes of Messner and Charlie Porter. I also wonder if Messner were to attempt the first supplemental oxygen-less ascent of Everest today, and if Porter were to go for his big solo of Mount Asgard, whether they would tie into the modern communications systems—Star Trek technology that didn’t exist when they were active—or unplug.

    Even if they were to carry phones I don’t see how that would diminish the “spirituality of endeavor.” Is spirituality really so frail it is threatened by Facebook?

    The answer to that question doesn’t matter because we’re not talking about spirituality anyway. Climbing can have a spiritual component, but what that confused NYT reader really meant was “spirit of adventure.” Adventure, arguably, is the mental and physical challenge, while exploration is the journey into the unknown. Both are in abundance on the Dawn Wall and the fact that Caldwell and Jorgeson are connected and pumping out media content doesn’t take away from either—we watched Neil Armstrong step on the moon via a live television feed, and I don’t recall anyone saying, “Well, there goes adventure!”

    Even with the photographers and reporters and social blitz, those two climbers up there must still contend with hardship and uncertainty, and do nearly impossible moves on a huge, sheer granite wall.

    Will they make it?

    Stay tuned.

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