The Dawn Wall (2017) - full transcript

In an unbelievable story of perseverance, free climber Tommy Caldwell and climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson attempt to scale the impossible 3000ft Dawn Wall of El Capitan.


'Hey, guys. It's
John Branch from "The NY Times".

'How's it going up there?'

Good, John.

'How high up
are you guys right now?'

We are about 1,200 feet
up the wall at our base camp.

This has been our home
for nine days now.

'Tommy, I guess
the bottom line question here,

'why are you doing this?

'What's the point
of all this for you?'

On the air tonight
with a story of two men

attempting to free climb
the famously steep face

of El Capitan in Yosemite.

Inch by nerve-racking inch,

using only their fingertips
to grasp razor sharp edges.

Tommy Caldwell
and Kevin Jorgeson

attempt the hardest climb
in the world.

No one has ever
free-climbed the Dawn Wall.

3,000 feet
of straight-up granite.

A climb watched by the world.

These guys have
captured the world's attention.

They're trying to make history.

El Capitan's infamous Dawn Wall.

As a kid,
Tommy was slow at everything.

He had a lot of difficulty
in school.

The teachers actually
at one point told us

that he was mentally retarded
and would never learn.

I was developmentally delayed
through... probably still.

I was this very fragile
little kid,

incredibly shy.

But meanwhile, my dad was,
like, the symbol of a man.

He was this big bodybuilder dude
and mountain climber.

Larger than life.

Tommy was small.

He was way behind.

Didn't crawl until he was
over two.

I think my dad felt

the best way to prepare this
fragile little kid for the world

was to toughen him up
a little bit.

So he took me
on all these adventures.

Three years old,
strap on the skis.

Camping in a snow cave
during a blizzard.

Every summer, we'd go
to Yosemite with my family,

and my dad would take me
climbing on these giant walls.

Some of the craziest climbing
stunts you could ever do,

and he did it
with a six-year-old.

The things
that Tommy's dad took him on,

today you would have
Child Protective Services

coming after you.

He basically took hardship
and rephrased it as growth.

He was loving,
but he definitely let me suffer.

The word that was in my mind
was resilience.

It seems to me one of the
best gifts you can give your kid

is an ability
to deal with adversity.

By the time
I was 14 or 15,

there was climbs that I could do
that my dad couldn't.

Tommy's strong.

Climbing was
the first thing in my life

where I could stand out
a little bit.

Alright. Woo!

So Tommy was 16,

and Snowbird held the Snowbird
Invitational that year.

This big
climbing competition.

We thought we'd drive over there
and watch the comp

and get some autographs.

We just went there
to be fans, really.

And the day before
the big competition,

they had a Citizens' Comp that
anybody who shows up can enter.

So I entered that,
my first competition ever.

Well, Tommy won.

And I don't know
if this was an official policy

or just something
they dreamt up on the spot,

but they asked Tommy

if he wanted to enter the
World Invitational the next day.

Hello, everyone.
I'm James Brown,

and welcome to Snowbird, Utah,

for the International
Sport Climbing Championship.

Expert climbers
will test their skills

against a man-made
120-foot wall.

There were 12 competitors.

- The icons of climbing.
- It was so intimidating.

Nobody had ever
heard of me.

I was just
this scrawny little kid.

I was videoing Tommy as he goes
climbing up this thing.

Come on, Tommy.

He got past
the final roof.

So Tommy's winning.

Alright, Tommy!

And I started shaking.

I just dropped the camera.

I mean I completely lost it.

Tommy got to the top.

The only climber
to complete this climb.

So all of a sudden,
Tommy went from nobody at all

to winner of Snowbird

I mean,
that was just unbelievable.

It changed his whole life.

Tommy became known

as one of the best
young climbers.

But he didn't grow up

the way most of us do.

Through high school
he didn't have girlfriends.

He didn't have a social life.
He just went climbing.

I was doing
this series of competitions,

and I met this girl, Beth.

She just caught my attention
totally. I was like, "Woah!"

Tommy just had this really big,
goofy, endearing grin.

We both lived and breathed

this climbing savant,

and then he meets Beth,
the female version of himself.

He's head over heels.

I just found ways
to go wherever she was.

- OK?
- Yeah.

I found out
she was going to Yosemite,

so I followed her out there.

We ended up climbing
a big wall together.

You know, we were
next to each other all the time.

24 hours a day together.

Sleeping 1,000 feet off
the ground on this portaledge,

which is like a hanging cot.

You sleep head to toe.
There's just more room that way.

Sol laid down,

and she laid down
the same way that I was,

with her head at the same end.

And I was
pretty excited by this.

I was like, "Ooh, goodness.
This is getting exciting."

I just hadn't been
in love before,

and I just fell hardcore,
right off the bat.

It just clicked.

We had so many dreams of
traveling and climbing together.

And then we got invited
to go on a big adventure trip.

An expedition to Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan is this beautiful,
mountainous country

in Central Asia.

We'd seen pictures from friends
that had been there,

and it looked like a paradise
for climbers.

I was a photographer
working in the outdoor industry.

And this amazing opportunity
came about for me

to shoot an expedition
with Beth and Tommy and Jason.

We were just four young climbers
looking for a big adventure

in a new and unusual part
of the world.

We charter a helicopter
into the Kara-Su Valley.

Unbelievably beautiful.

Just felt like
a dream come true,

out in the middle
of this adventure

with this girl
that I was totally in love with.

A week-and-a-half into our trip,

the four of us were sleeping
in portaledges

1,000 feet up the wall,

and we wake up to gunshots...

...these piercing,
close gunshots.

The bullets hitting the wall
right between our portaledges.

We're sitting there like,

"Oh, my God,
we're getting shot at."

And you can't run away.
You can't do anything.

We're just sitting ducks
up here.

We look down,
and you could see these figures.

These guys
waving at us to come down.

We rappelled down
to the ground.

We're encountered
by four guys, heavily armed.

They took us
to our base camp.

All of our tents
were cut open.

A lot of our food
was splayed around the meadow.

They had us start
hiding our camp.

And so suddenly, it hits us,
we're hostages right now.

we learned that these guys

were part of the
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,

these rebels that wanted
to overthrow the government.

We were caught up
in this battle

between these rebels
and the Kyrgyz military.

All of a sudden,

Kyrgyz military helicopters
started to fly over,

soldiers show up
on the hillside,

and this battle breaks out.

The rebels start pointing their
guns at us, yelling, "Hide!"

Then we dive in these trees.

The rebels had taken
a Kyrgyz soldier hostage.

They took the other captive.

And they just shot him
in the head.

I just remember
shaking uncontrollably

and Tommy just holding me
as tight as he could.

Are they just going to
kill us next?

Once it's dark,
the gunfire dies down.

And the rebels start marching us
through the mountains.

It's four rebels,
the four of us.

It's really cold.
We're 11,000 feet in elevation.

We don't have warm clothes.

We don't have any food.

We had no idea
where we were going.

We would
hike through the night,

and then during the day,
they would hide us.

They hid us
in the craziest spots.

Burying us
in holes in the ground

so that we wouldn't be seen
by the military.

This went on
for six days.

Day two or three,
hunger really started to set in.

You know,
we're sort of just wasting away.

I thought they're
taking us back to their base

or they're taking us somewhere,
there's a purpose to this.

Finally, we realized

they were leading us
in a giant circle.

Like, these guys
clearly don't have a plan.

Jason and John started to scheme
about how we could get away.

I mean, things were getting
super desperate.

They were ready to take matters
into their own hands.

At one point,
two of our captors left.

We never saw them again.

We found out later
that they got killed.

On our sixth night of captivity,

the two captors
that were remaining with us

decided that one of them
would go in one direction

to try and get some food

and then we would head off
with the other one.

So we get left alone
with the one rebel,

climbing up this cliff side.

We were comfortable
on the terrain, and he was not.

If we're going to escape,
this is the opportunity.

Jason and John decided

they would try and push our
remaining captor off this cliff

and then run away.

John and I were trying
to look for a point

that we could throw him off.

But we kept going
and kept going.

We just couldn't quite push him.

As we got to the top,

I realized that our opportunity
was going to be over.

And I decided that this was
what I had to do.

I had to go and I needed
to push this guy off this cliff

in order to save our lives.

Tommy came over to me
at this point, and he said,

"Do you think I should do this?"

I was thinking,
"Yes, no, yes, no."

So I just didn't say anything.

I took that as
that she would be OK with it.

So I just ran up behind him

and I put one hand on his back
and grabbed his gun strap.

And my other hand
went on his chest

and I just gave a push... send him flying off
this cliff.

We saw him hit a ledge,

bounce off of it, and just fall
out of sight into the darkness.

Tommy completely broke down,

had his head in his arms
and he was crying.

I couldn't believe
what I had just done.

I had just killed somebody.

The whole world came
crashing down on me all at once.

We were all trying
to reassure him and say that,

"You're not a bad person,
you just saved our lives."

They really tried
to comfort me.

But there was a sense of urgency
that we better get going,

because we didn't know if the
other captor was gonna show up.

We knew
from hiking in earlier

where there was a military
outpost we could try and run to.

So even on almost no food
for six days,

adrenaline kicked in.

So we ran for four hours.

Through the darkness
down this valley.

We were greeted by this
man yelling at us with this gun.

Throw up our hands, start
yelling that we're Americans.

And luckily,
it was the Kyrgyz army.

This huge wave of relief
came over us.

This horrible situation
that we had been in was over.

They gave us food and water,
military fatigues.

And then we got
helicoptered out from there.

From our studios
in New York, here's Jane Pauley.

Four young Americans
face a life or death choice,

with the ultimate question,
to kill or be killed?

When we got home, there
was this crazy media circus.

You guys are walking
with this captor

on a very rocky cliff.

Tell me what you did, Tommy.

We just ended up
pushing the guy.

- You pushed him over the cliff.
- Yeah.

What happened at that moment
when you realized,

I've actually done this,
I've killed somebody?

I thought that I was
an evil person. I said to Beth,

"How can you love me after I did
something like this?"

And, uh...

After Kyrgyzstan,

Tommy had tremendous
personality changes.

Speaking so softly.

I was like, what is inside me
that allowed me to do this?

Just an entirely
different person.

Yosemite is known

as the Mecca
of world rock climbing.

And the crown jewel
of this Mecca is El Capitan.

It's just this iconic
3,000 foot high monolith.

When you see that thing
for the first time,

it takes your breath away.

The steepest, blankest,
most forlorn...

impressive part of El Cap

is the Dawn Wall.

People have done a handful
of free climbs up El Cap

to the right and to the left.

But the Dawn Wall
has never been climbed.

Just the sheer magnitude
of blank rock on the thing,

it just looks impossible.

Until Tommy Caldwell came along,

nobody had actually
considered trying it.

If Tommy and his partner Kevin
can actually do this,

it will be the most continuously
difficult rock climb ever done.

Nothing else
is even close to it.

It's December 27th,

and we're planning on heading up
for like two weeks plus.

We'll see.

The goal is climb it
in a single push,

which means we're going to
leave the ground,

live on the wall,

and not come down
until we're done.

We're going for it.

I'm nervous.

We've put in so much work
leading up to this moment.

There's nothing left to do
but take a couple deep breaths

and start climbing.

Day one.


This is going to be awesome.

The Dawn Wall itself
is 3,000 feet tall.

The route that they think
they have figured out

is comprised of
32 individual pitches.

Each pitch is its own challenge,
like the stages of a race.

A pitch is a rope-length long,
about 150 feet or so.

And ends of the ledge

are a natural resting place
on the rock.

Yeah, man. Good work.

When you end the pitch,

you anchor yourself
to the wall...

One down,
thirty-something to go.

...and hold the rope or
belay as your partner comes up.

Once you've both done
that pitch without falling,

you can move on
to the next pitch.

When you're

you're using
your hands and feet

to climb the natural features
on the rock

without any assistance
from the rope.

- Good job.
- Yeah, man.

You take turns
leading each pitch,

placing protection in the cracks
to catch you in case you fall.

Yeah, come on.
You got it.

Ugh! Oh!

If you fall,

you just go back down
to the beginning of that pitch,

and then the other guy tries it.

They have
a certain number of pitches

they're trying to get through
each day

to stay on track
to finish this climb.

The first few pitches
are relatively easy.

But as you get higher
on the wall...

...the wall gets steeper,

the holes get smaller,

and the climbing
gets way more difficult.

It's hard to articulate

the level of detail
that's required.

You can't make any mistake
in where you grab the hold

and how you place your toe.

You're pushing and pulling
as hard as you possibly can,

always on the verge
of slipping off.


Oh, no!

- Oh!
- Oh, foot slip.

We climb all day
into the night,

trying the same pitch
until we both do it.

Come on, Tommy!

Come on!

Man, I'm getting tired.

Tommy is just
a man possessed.

Come on. Finish this.

Yeah, come on.

Yeah, man.


And I'm just trying to keep up.

You got it, Kevin.
Come on!

Come on! Come on!
Come on!

Yeah, that was awesome, dude.

Thank God I didn't fall.

Nice, man.

When you're trying
a big wall like this,

the work does not end

once the climbing is done
at the end of the day.

You've got to haul up
hundreds of pounds of gear,

set up portaledges...

This seems pretty good.
Pretty flat, even, I would say.

...and gag down some food.

I actually brought
a bag of kale on the wall

to put it in our burritos.

This is the hardest thing you
could ever do on your fingers,

climbing this route.

It's just grabbing razor blades.

I tape up any wounds
with Neosporin for healing.

Then I wake up probably
twice in the night and reapply.

Getting pretty obsessed
with my lips.

Then you've got to hope
you can get a little sleep.

The next day is going to be
more of the same, but harder.

And it's going to go on
day after clay,

two weeks, three weeks.
Nobody knows.

After Kyrgyzstan,

we're trying to absorb
what had happened.

Beth is really traumatized.

I started to have
nightmares and couldn't sleep.

I did not want to be separated
from Tommy at that point.

Beth and I are bonded
at the hip. I'm her rock.

We go to church a few times.

We hadn't been to church
in ten years.

We're just searching.
We're like, what does this mean?

We go to a therapist.

It's like nobody knows
how to deal with this situation.

I think my way
of dealing with it was

you just get back on that horse
and go climb again.

This has always been
my safe place,

my way to deal with life.

I didn't know what to think
about Kyrgyzstan.

Part of me was feeling
kind of empowered.

I was like, when the shit
really hit the fan,

I was able to do
what needed to be done

to get us out of there.

Tommy jumped
right back into climbing,

and slowly we got back
into our groove.

We're both
professional rock climbers,

doing these really cool climbs
all over the place.

He started
setting these lofty goals.

Trying to climb
harder and harder routes.

And then, about a year
after Kyrgyzstan,

we were remodeling
this tiny little cabin.

And Tommy was using
his parent's old table saw.

Tommy did something
that you should never do,

which is he tried
to pull a small piece of wood

through the table saw.

If the blade catches
on the wood,

it sucks your hand
right back into the blade.

I heard Tommy scream,

"I fucking cut off my finger,
I cut off my finger."

Completely cut his finger off

It was over in the bushes.

Beth finds the finger
laying in this pile of sawdust.

We throw it on ice,
drive to the hospital.

My dad comes in, and he's like,
"You have to fix his finger."

And so for two weeks,
they tried to reattach it.

Three different surgeries.

But it became apparent that the
finger wasn't going to survive.

This one doctor
who was a climber

came in and told Tommy
that he was going to have to

come up with a new career now.

There's no way he was going to
make it as a climber any longer.

Oh, that was...

either the wrong thing
or the right thing to say,

because it sure fired him up.

I was like, "Fuck that guy!"

"He doesn't know
what I'm capable of."

I remember the
first time he tried to climb.

Good, Tommy.

He was like, "Whoa!"

You know, it's going to be hard.

Good job, sweetie.

When I heard
he cut his finger off, I go,

"Well, so much
for Tommy Caldwell."

The grip in climbing is,

you wrap your thumb
over your finger like that

and pull down
on the little edges,

and if there's no finger there,
the physics are all wrong.

I don't know about that.

Everybody around me,
except for Beth and my parents,

looked at me and they're like,
"He's done. That's so sad."

I knew it wasn't
going to be easy.

But ever since Kyrgyzstan,

I just have this fire in me

that is different than
anything I've had before.

He had all these jars
of rice and beans and gravel.

He's supposed to jam
that nub of a finger in there.

I just abused the thing

to retrain the nerves,
to toughen them up.

Those six days of captivity
in Kyrgyzstan

were so profoundly painful.

At first, I felt overwhelmed

with fear and fatigue
and hunger.

But at some point,
I felt something come over me,

this reserve of energy,

this confidence.

I knew I was cold,
I knew I was hungry,

but those things
didn't matter anymore.

I think we all have this idea
of where our limits lie.

If you're hurting really bad,

you get to a point where you're
like, "I can't endure any more."

And it takes something
to force you past that.

In Kyrgyzstan, I realized
that my preconceived limits

were totally off base,

that we're capable
of so much more

than we really
could ever imagine.

There was this really
hard climb nobody had done

that he tried the year
before he cut off his finger,

and he couldn't do it.

A year later, he came back
without the finger

and he did it.

He cuts off his finger.

"Oh, no big deal. I'll just
get better after that."

I have no idea
how that's possible.

That's when Tommy
took his game

to the biggest stage on Earth,
which is El Cap.

At that time,

there were only a few
free climbs that went up El Cap.

Some of the hardest
big wall climbs ever done.

Just to claim
one of these routes

would have been
a monumental achievement

for the best climbers
in the world.

And then Tommy
walks into the Valley,

missing a finger,

and just started knocking them
down, one after the other.

Over the next five years,
he went on a rampage.

I did basically all
the existing routes on El Cap.

- Salathe Wall.
- The Zodiac.

El Corazon.

- Golden Gate.
- The Nose.

Then he starts
speed climbing these routes,

linking one into the other.

Two El Cap routes
in a day.

6,000 feet of climbing.

That was unheard of.

- You did it!
- Oh, my goodness.

And then I started looking
for new routes.

Tommy started looking
between the lines

for his own first ascents.

It added that element
of the unknown,

this what-if, like,
maybe that could be climbed.

I think Tommy
had become hypnotized

trying to figure out,
where is the ultimate limit?

Oh, shit.

I did the first ascent
of the Muir Wall.

- The West Buttress.
- Dihedral Wall.

Magic Mushroom.

Anybody that does
a first ascent on El Capitan

has their place in history

Tommy did five of them.

Anything he could
dream up, he did it.

And everyone in the climbing
world is like, "What the hell?"

He's Mr. El Cap.

The best
big wall climber ever.

And Beth
was with him all the time,

climbing all of these routes

We just poured
our hearts into climbing

and supporting each other
on these goals.

It was quite a team.

They were known
as the first couple of climbing.

There was one word -
Beth and Tommy.

We get married.

We ended up buying property
like 20 minutes from El Capitan

and building a house there.

We're nearly there!

We were just
going to live in Yosemite

and raise our kids there
and keep climbing.

I was good friends
with them both,

and we were next-door neighbors.

They seemed so happy.

I'm like, wow, this life

that I never even saw coming
in the first place

is starting
to just magically appear.

Things are going
seemingly really well,

at least from my mind.

But I'm noticing, over time,
little cracks started to form.

The first inklings
of almost hostility towards me.

There was
all this weird tension.

And I was just like,

well, we've been together
for eight years now.

Marriages go through
troubling times.

We'll get through this
and just keep climbing.

I think there was
a natural growing apart,

desires we had
outside of climbing.

I think going through
a super intense experience

like Kyrgyzstan...

I mean, we were so young.

Years later, there's probably
a lot that started to come out,

healing that I hadn't done.

And at some point,
the climbing we had

wasn't enough glue
to hold it together anymore.

In Kyrgyzstan,

Beth was extremely traumatized
by those six days,

and Tommy was the person
who saved them.

And so from that, I think

a sort of dependency
probably developed

that isn't necessarily
the same thing as true love.


she started feeling something
for somebody else.


I don't know
how to summarize this.

This is kind of a hard thing
to talk about, but...

that relationship with her and
this other man just solidified

in a way that she couldn't
walk away from that anymore.

And she wanted that more
than she wanted me.

Once the divorce
fully happened, I...

Yeah, I was just crushed.

I drove to the rim
of Yosemite Valley

and was looking across
at El Capitan.

It felt like
El Cap was all I had.

Early in the morning,

there's this one panel of
the Wall that illuminates first.

That's why it's called
the Dawn Wall.

The last unclimbed
big swath of stone.

I had looked at it
a little bit before and knew

that it was way too hard,
I'd never be able to do it.

But I was just hurting so bad

that I had to figure out
a distraction in life.

I couldn't just sit there
and feel the pain.

I decided to go up there alone

and beat myself up on the Wall
as just a way to cope.

I walked around the back
to the top of El Cap.

I started rappelling down
from above.

And I put in a camp
so I could stay up there.

And I started going
through this process

of searching for a way to climb
this section of the Wall.

The specific path
was totally unknown.

You look for weaknesses
in the rock.

Corners that you can wedge
your body into.

Cracks for your hands and toes.

Little edges
for your fingertips.

Anything that you could
possibly grab onto

that would make this wall

At first, it was just
hanging on the rope,

analyzing the surface
of the rock

to see if there was holds.

Just finding something
to obsess about

so I wouldn't obsess
about my divorce.

I think
it's probably important

that it was an impossible level
of rock climbing.

When you absorb yourself
in some magnificent challenge,

there is no space to be thinking
about anything else.

You know,
if you're heartbroken,

just throw yourself
into an impossible wall.

So I was sitting
up there through this storm.

My wife has left me.

She was the only person
I had climbed with

for, like, ten years.

In my portaledge at night,

weeping and really
feeling sorry for myself,

trying to find
this elusive thing

that probably didn't even exist.

I was concerned.

He just seemed to be suffering
at that point.

And I wanted to see
what this was all about,

so early on in the game
I went up there with him.

I convinced my dad
to come up there and belay me,

so I could start actually trying
to climb sections of the route.

What the heck?

I really had my doubts
as to whether it was going to be

a viable climb.

- Be safe.
- I will.

- Get strong.
- Yup.

But during that period of time,

he became convinced
that it was somehow possible.

Tommy spent
an entire year

swinging around looking
for a route up the Dawn Wall,

trying to connect the dots

from the bottom
all the way to the top

so you can someday hope
to free climb the whole thing.

I found a route

that seemed like it was
theoretically possible,

like I found the path
through the maze maybe.

But I realized

there was no way I was going
to be able to do this alone.

It's just a monumental project.

Without Beth,
I needed to find a partner,

somebody that I could rely on

to help me solve this puzzle.

I should wake Kevin up
with some coffee.

Just stretching.

That's a good idea.

I felt a little rugged
when I first woke up.

But how are you feeling?

Still stuffy and sore throat.
Kind of achy.

I think I got
whatever you got.

After the first
couple of days on the Wall,

there's a small little cadre
of people down in the meadow

following their progress.

You can get a telescope
or a pair of binoculars,

look up at this spectacle

Oh, my God.

Is he naked or what?

My name is Tom Evans.
I've been

for many years photographing
climbers on El Cap.

I usually don't come
in the winter,

but this is big news
in climbing.

And we've all been pulling
for him for many years.

I was on
a little vacation from work,

and I decided to come out
from Sacramento

to watch these guys climb
the Dawn Wall.

It's definitely
a moment in history.

To be able to be a part of that
and witness it

is pretty phenomenal.

Pushing forward.

From here on up,
every pitch is pretty legit.

We've got to pace ourselves.

Maybe one or two pitches a day.

Come on, Tommy.


Good, Tommy. Come on.



Come on.

You got it.

Yeah. Yeah, Kevin.

Nice, dude.

- Cool.
- Dude, that was sick.

It's day three on the Wall,
and we sent pitch 10.


Yeah. Boom.

- Things are going good.
- Things are going good.

And the forecast
is calling

for super cold windy temps

so we're going to rest.

Urgent weather message.

Winds, 50 miles per hour
with gusts 75 or higher.

Impact... downed trees,
downed power lines,

flying portaledges.

These guys are up there
in the middle of winter,

which is almost unheard of.

But they need it to be
as cold as possible

so they can stick
to the tiny holds

There's nobody else on the Wall.

Last night, the temperature
dropped 30 degrees.

To be up there
under these conditions,

it's horrendous.
I don't know how they do it.

Carabiners, locked

The windchill's like
negative 20 or something.

How you feeling over there, KJ?

It's getting pretty rowdy.

On El Cap, the wind
blows straight up the wall.

The ledge would float up
and, bang, back into the wall.

Oh, boy.

feels right at home.


I don't know what's
wrong with me,

but I love this shit.

It might be smart
to stay in the ledges today.

Because of the windstorm
the day before,

all of this moisture froze,

like salt on a Margarita glass
on the top of El Cap.

And as soon as the sun
hit the top of the Wall,

that ice just started
to shower down on top of us.

These missiles
flying by our camp.

You hear it before you see it.

I'm like,
this is a deadly situation.

- That was fucked up.
- Did you get hit?

but that was just pure luck.

That was scary.

I hate that shit.

Here come some more big
chunks. Tommy forgot his helmet.

Heads up, Tommy.

Tommy doesn't seem
too concerned. What the fuck?

What's new?

Tommy, he was made
for something like this.

But for me, it took a long time
to get comfortable on the Wall.

You can understand,
Tommy grew up in the mountains.

He'd spent the better part
of his adult life

on El Capitan
trying to do free climbs.

But this guy Kevin was raised
in Santa Rosa, I think.

You know, wine country.

There's not a lot
of rock climbing in Santa Rosa.

- First ascent.
- Yeah!

Don't fall on the Camaro.

I found climbing
through the local gym.

- Bye, honey. Have fun.
- Bye, Mom.

Drive careful.

I got really into
this particular form of climbing

called bouldering.

It's typically 30 feet or less.

Doesn't require any gear.

Bouldering's just about

and difficulty
in its purest form.

Bouldering is all about

trying the hardest
individual moves.

And Kevin quickly became
very, very talented.

He was one of the best
in the world.

But only up to about
30 feet.

In 2009, I was at
the top of my game in bouldering

and looking for something new.

I kept hearing about
this futuristic thing

that Tommy was working on.

I had zero big wall experience.

Tommy and I
didn't know each other at all.

But I just sent him a message
out of the blue.

"Hey, do you need a partner?"

And to my utter shock, he said,
meet me in Yosemite in October.

I knew Kevin
by reputation.

He was this amazingly strong
bouldering kid.

And I thought to myself,
"What the heck?"

"Maybe he could be an asset."

Plus, he was the only one

Everybody else
thought I was crazy.

Show up.

I remember standing there
with Tommy,

who's a legend figure
in my life.

I feel like such a fucking dork.

Who am I?
I've never climbed El Cap.

What a noob.

Fiddling around on boulders,

that's a far cry
from being on El Capitan.

First thing I had to do
was test him.

I gave him like
an 80 pound haul bag.

A soul crushing load.

We hiked
to the top of El Cap.

We spent the night on top.

Woke up early the next day...

It's 3:15
in the morning.

Cooking up a little breakfast.

You never get up at 3:00
in the morning to go bouldering.

...and start rappelling
down the face.

You start walking backwards.

It's like stepping off
the edge of the Earth.

You instantly have 3,000 feet
of exposure under your butt.

Oh, my God!

How's it going
up there, Kev?

- Good, I got the bag.
- And my shoes?

- And your shoes.
- Cool, thank you.

It's scary to be a total
beginner again.

I don't know any of this stuff.

Trying to figure out
how to jumar a fixed line.

How to set up a portaledge.

Sorry, Kevin.

I'll just hold
this quarter in. It's cool.

How to take a dump
on the side of the Wall.

- They get every moment.
- Close up.

At this point, I have
no idea what I'm getting into,

no idea that it's about
to consume six years of my life.

When Kevin
joined on with Tommy,

it was the first time
since getting divorced

that Tommy had a partner.

There's two bolts
and then an old bolt.

I didn't know
what we were up against,

but I was going on faith
that this is Tommy's world.

He's got the clear vision
of what this could be.

And I'm just going
to trust that.

The basic strategy
early on

was not to climb the route
from the bottom.

It was to identify
the hardest sections

and focus on those first.

There were
all these question marks.

Come on, Tommy.

OK, take it there.

Oh, I got the pinch with my
right hand instead of my left.

Working it out.

Constantly working it out.

Early on, most of it was
figuring out what didn't work.

Right in the middle of the Wall,

we were gonna have to
traverse it sideways.

Come on.

Come on.

I don't see any holds,

but I try to harness
some of Tommy's optimism.

After the traverse,

there's this 8 and 1/2 foot
blank section.

Completely smooth.

Nothing that you could even
get your fingernails behind.

The only way was to just leap.

This crazy dynamic move.

The Dyno.

I didn't really believe
it would be possible

until I saw Kevin try it.

Yeah, man. It was close.

He showed me that it was.

Come on. All you got.

Above the Dyno,
you have pitch after pitch

of have super smooth granite,

extremely polished.

Because of Tommy's
missing index finger,

he's using his thumbs
in crazy ways.



Holy crap, that is hard.

13B. 13D.

13C. 14A.

To understand
the difficulty of this route,

you have to understand
climbing grades.

Climbers use a numerical system

to rate the difficulty
of each pitch.

The higher the number,
the harder the pitch.

Once you get into
513 and 514 level,

that's virtuoso territory.

The Dawn Wall
has more hard pitches

than every other route
on El Cap combined.

I always thought it was futile

in terms of doing
the whole thing.

This is a pipe dream, man.
Come on.

The next few years
were a grind.

Coming back every spring and
every fall for months at a time.

Come on.

Living on the Wall
takes a huge toll.

This is what El Cap
does to your feet.

We'd stay up there
a few days...

Oh, my God.
That's a lot of air time.

...go down, rest,

try again.

There were always
new problems to face.

Get out of here!

Come on, Kevin.
Do it, man.

- Really close.
- Oh, I sprained my ankle.

- Are you OK, man?
- Oh, shit.

So many reasons
to give up.

Oh, shit.

Man, I think I have
broke or dislocated ribs.

We're heading to the clinic.

Maybe they'll just
pop it back in.

They will, and
we'll go back up later tonight.

But Tommy was committed.

Come on, Kevin!
Come on!

There were times
I thought he was totally crazy.

Come on!


Whoa'. Ow-ow!

When we weren't
together on the Wall,

we would go home
to our own worlds,

check in on loved ones.

It's gross. I can see the oil
on your hair.

OK, I'm just totally
being a mom.

Try to get some good rest

and find motivation
for the next round of attempts.

When I wasn't
on the Dawn Wall,

I was living by myself
in Colorado,

training and obsessing.

I was really lonely, honestly.

I met this girl named Becca.

We started dating.

He was thoughtful
and considerate,

but from the beginning,
it was pretty obvious

his mind was completely occupied
by the Dawn Wall.

It wasn't just a climb.

It was all consuming.

We were trying to build
a relationship.

But he would go out to Yosemite
for months at a time,

giving everything
to the Dawn Wall.

For years,
Tommy put his whole life on hold

so he could give every
last ounce of his body and soul

to this impossible quest.

I could never tell
if we were wasting our time

or we were in pursuit
of something grand.

Come on!

I'd go out to Yosemite

and I'd watch him
from the meadow.

It looked completely ridiculous.

Ah, shoot.

I think we all admire people
who are dedicated.

But at some point,
you start to wonder,

where are the lines between
dedication and obsession?

He was going
through emotional agony.

This climb has been
gut wrenching.

I want this for him so badly.


- Oh, he fell off.
- Oh.

Man. I mean, you've
failed on this thing 800 times.

How can you continue to beat
your head against this wall?

After years of effort,

it didn't feel like we were
any closer to our dream.

He's worked so hard.

Why am I crying right now?

This project! Argh!

This makes me wonder

if he bit off
more than he could chew.

Oh, it's so good
to have you down.

After all this failure,
I started to wonder

if maybe this climb
really was impossible.

Maybe I wasn't good enough.

- Morning.
- Morning.

Tommy and Kevin have been
up there, this is their 8th day.

They're halfway up the Wall.

They got past 70 mile an hour
winds, the ice falls.

They climbed
a lot of difficult rock.

Now they've got today
a very hard section to do.

They're here. They've got to go
across this traverse.

14D, I think it is.

If they can get that done,
they're well on their way.

The hardest individual
part of this 3,000 foot puzzle

is the traverse.

The bottom section of the route

follows a vague series of cracks
and corners in the rock.

But after 1,000 feet, those
cracks and corners dead end.

300 feet to the left, there's
another series of features

that angles up to the top.

The trick is,

how do you traverse
this 300 foot blank section

right in the middle of the Wall?

this band of rock

that's a slightly different
color and texture.

above and below it

is impossible to free climb.

But the composition of that band

is such that it has
a few holds on it.

Over the last six years,
we spent over 100 days

trying to get across
this traverse.

Thousands of tries
on that single pitch.

I've never done it.

Now we have to do it
for the very first time...

Looks like
Tommy's getting ready. the moment,
on the push.

Go get it.

It's really unnerving.

You're just waiting to slip off
at any moment.

It's kind of funny.

This 3,000 foot wall, and
it's coming down to millimeters

of skin contact
on your fingertips.

It becomes
such a zoomed-in world.

There's one way
to get across,

and it is made up of
all these little sequences

that have to be done perfectly.

You miss a hold,
it's impossible.

Yeah, dude.

You grab it wrong,
it's impossible.


We're trading attempts.

Tommy ties in
and just flips that switch.

Go get it, Tommy.

You grab
these sharp holds,

like razor blades.

Come on!

Span as far as you can.

Come on!

So stretched out.

I suddenly felt this confidence.

I knew exactly how each finger
was going onto each hold,

where the little ripples on the
rock were digging into my shoes.

After years of working
on that pitch,

it just came together
in this amazing, magical way.

Yes, come on!

Come on!




When I heard
that Tommy had done pitch 15,

that was like,
"You've got to be kidding me!"

For the first time,

these guys actually have a shot
at maybe doing this thing.

When Tommy got across,

it was a big moment.

Everything was rolling,
and now it was my turn.

Over the years, we realized

sometimes the best conditions
are at night.

It's colder. It's drier.

So there's better friction
on the rock.

At first, it's scary.

But after a while, you forget
how high off the ground you are

and you can focus
just on the climbing.

Tried it a few times.

I wasn't that close.

We rappelled back to our camp
below the traverse.

I was stoked for Tommy,
a little stressed for myself.

So Tommy's made it
through the traverse.

He still has to get
past the Dyno

and the Long Run to Wino Tower.

But first, he has to wait
for Kevin to catch up.


'Hey, guys. This is
John Branch from the NY Times.

- 'How's it going up there?'
- Good, John.

'Tommy, I know that
you made it to 15 last night.

'It's very exciting,

'so I appreciate you guys taking
just a few minutes to talk.'

We're always looking for stories
that are a little bit

out of the mainstream
sports realm.

Every time we start
a hard pitch...

I knew about the Dawn
Wall and Tommy Caldwell's quest.

And when I heard that
Tommy did pitch 15, I thought,

if it was ever going to happen,
this might be the time.

We recognized

this is not only the best
climbing story of the year,

but maybe of our generation.

'We talked about
follow-up stories.'

Quickly typed up a story.

The next day,
it ran in the paper.

It was on the front page
of The New York Times,

and it just exploded.

Tons of comments.
Lots of questions.

People care about this.

When John Branch,

the Pulitzer Prize winning
journalist, got a hold of it,

it just got its own momentum.

And it just got bigger
and bigger from there.

There was
follow-up stories

and a flood of media requests

from every major news outlet
in the world.

Picture this.
Our next guests talk to us

as they were suspended
high up in mid air.

'We're sitting in a
portaledge, which is basically'

a hanging cot
with an aluminum frame.

That's professional
climber Tommy Caldwell

ten days into what's considered

one of the world's most daunting
climbing challenges.

This is crazy.

'Best of luck.'

Thank you so much.

Guess we hang up.
I don't really know.

They don't tell us what to do
when it's over.

Oh, my God!

How many days does it take?

All of a sudden,

there are crowds of people
congregating in the Valley.

Let's turn now to this historic
feat by two American climbers.

Perched on a cliff
above Yosemite.

The famously steep face
of El Capitan.

The whole media thing
was very strange for me.

The climb of the century.

It's just been extraordinary.

A real cliffhanger.
Did I just say that?

They were just saying
these ludicrous things.

- Two American hikers.
- Daredevils.

- Thrill seekers.
- Adrenaline junkies.

Scaling the cliff
known as El Capitan.

That's not even El Cap.

Inching up
without any climbing tools.

I'm wearing pretty much the same
gear as the guys up in Yosemite.

I like the second picture,
so we'll hover here.

The Dawn Wall was always
this personal journey.

This was a bad idea.

And obviously,

this turned into something
very different from that.

So don't understand
how they could possibly do it.

I hope they make it,
but I don't understand it.

It's the challenge.

Yeah, the challenge of it.
No, thanks.

Suddenly, the whole
world was watching this climb.

Which wasn't the
best timing for me personally,

because I still
had to do pitch 15.

At this point,
they've established a base camp

a couple of hundred feet
below the traverse.

So when Kevin's ready to climb,

they go up the fixed ropes
to the start of pitch 15.

Tommy sets up his belay,

and Kevin tries
to get across this thing.

Here would be actually
a big moment on the climb.

Drove all the way out here today
just to see this.

It was important
to get through pitch 15

and catch up
to Tommy's high point

as soon as possible.

Come on, Kev.
You got it.


Every fall, you go back
to the start of the pitch,

rest for at least an hour...

...try again.

Every attempt,
you wear off more skin.

You run out of
a little more energy.

Everything was going smoothly

until Jorgeson
couldn't grasp pitch 15.

Stopped by the
sheer difficulty of the climb.

As the razor-sharp handholds

tore the skin
off his fingertips.

So everyone's tuning in

in the middle of guys living
on the side of the Wall...

History is on hold
in Yosemite National Park.

...and one of them's stuck.


Kevin Jorgeson is stuck.

- That was close, dude.
- I know.

You just started to
fall apart a little bit there.

It's a pretty
fascinating drama

unfolding in real time,
literally in front of our eyes.

People who I'm sure
had no idea what a pitch was

were now going, "Pitch 15!
Come on, Kevin! You can do it!"

You'll get it, dude.
That was really close.

I spent a few days
not climbing,

just belaying Kevin
over and over again on pitch 15.

It was harder than any pitch
of climbing he'd ever done.


He just kept falling
and falling.

I had honestly started to lose
hope that he was going to do it.

Last night
was my third day

of battle with pitch 15.

Still didn't do it.

After trying so many times,
I've destroyed my fingers.

So I decided to take a rest day
and let my fingers heal.

Tommy hasn't climbed for days.

And he has to be thinking,

I can't stay up here
indefinitely waiting for Kevin.

I mean, there's
very few people in the world

that have ever even spent
that much time on a wall.

Living on the Wall
just wears you down.

It's just harsh up there.

You can't even walk.

You're not sleeping great
at night.

You're not eating normal foods,
drinking enough water.

It's hard to climb your best
under those conditions.

Every day that goes by,
maybe Tommy suddenly gets sick.

Maybe the weather changes.

I felt like
I had to continue.

So they devised a plan.

Tommy's going to press on
and try the Dyno pitch,

hoping that Kevin
eventually will get across 15

and he can catch up.

That night,
we go up our fixed lines

and I belay Tommy on pitch 16,
the Dyno pitch.

I had tried
the Dyno move

hundreds of times
over the years.

Never done it.

I'd rebuilt it on the shed
at my home,

so I could just practice
this one stupid move.

Just before we went
for our final push,

I was completely frustrated,

staring at these photos
of the Wall.

I started to notice cracks and
edges that go down and around.

So I came up with this idea

to do the most ridiculous
pitch of climbing.

His idea was to
just climb in a giant circle

around the Dyno.
I was like, "Really?"

So to get around
about eight feet...?

Yeah, climb like 200.

Tommy's currently working out
the world's hardest down climb.

We do hard moves going straight
up, hard moves going sideways.

I should add a down climb.

That way, we
just get the full package.

Down climbing,
it's so unnatural.


It's like
running backwards.

That felt horrible.

Good, Tommy.


Come on. Focus.


This loop pitch,

it's like walking around
the block to cross the street.

It is just a little bit

But it's also kind of brilliant.

Come on.

Come on.

This thing that had been
shutting him down

for all these years,

and then he just looks at it
with a new set of eyes

and finds a new solution.


The Dyno!


How is the skin, dude?

It's not healing very quickly,

which is frustrating.

While Kevin's waiting
for his fingers to heal,

Tommy continued pushing
the route higher and higher.

What you do every day is,

you get to a high point,
and then you leave fixed ropes

that go back down to the camp.

The next day, you motor back up
the ropes to the high point

and then carry on.

So, even though
they might be working

on different parts of the Wall,

they're doing it together.
Kevin belays Tommy,

and once Tommy's done, they
both go back down to the camp.

Tommy's just forging on.

Every pitch gets him further
away from where I'm stuck.

One more down.

There's so much distance
between our high points

that I'm not going to be able
to close that gap

in a reasonable amount of time

unless I do this.

Every time I would
look over in his portaledge,

he would just be following
news updates,

staring at his fingertips,

mumbling to himself.

Trying to convince
myself these actually look good.

Tommy, do you have
the Ibuprofen?

Oh, yeah.

After two days resting,
I felt resolved.

This was the day
it had to happen.

It's still pretty warm out.

And so I'm going to wait
a few more hours

for the temperatures
to drop even more

to give myself
every bit of friction you can.

You ready?

as I'm ever going to be.

I've been waiting for days
for the skin to heal,

for this moment to come.

There's a nice cold breeze
blowing up the wall.

I felt weightless.

I was just floating
across the pitch.

Hold it together.

Come on, Kevin.
Do it, man.

You got it.

Come on.

You got it.

Come on. Find it.

Come on.


that was so good, dude.

Everything was perfect,
and I still didn't do it.

Come on, Kevin.

I tried four times
that night.


He's off.

I just kept falling.



...didn't go so well.

It was a battle,
and I didn't win.

It was pretty clear
that that was it.

Like, you had your chance.

You weren't good enough.

Yeah, it's pretty fucked.

Now you're the guy that
almost climbed the Dawn Wall.

So how much did you enjoy
that process?

Because that's all you get.

Editors and I
started talking.

Is it now time to do a story
about what happens

if he doesn't make it?

We all want happy endings, but
as a journalist, you're like,

"That's an incredible story."

What's the ethos in climbing?

Do you say,
you go ahead without me?

Do you leave a guy behind?

Are they having
this conversation

in the portaledge at night?

This would be nice
to check the radar.

The next day, the
weather was starting to get bad.

And I knew what I needed to do.



Next like four days.

I'm just going to
throw in the towel

and support Tommy to the top.

From here on out,

Kevin's just
going to belay Tommy

and follow him up the ropes.

So they go up
to Tommy's high point,

where he starts up
the last hard pitches

of the long run to Wino Tower.

There I was,
watching Tommy

climb with so much confidence

toward the completion
of this dream.

Even if I can't do this,
I was really happy for Tommy.

What a special moment

to witness
this piece of history.

And I was there to help Tommy
realize this vision.

After everything
he went through,

so much struggle,

the injuries, the doubts.

For Tommy it was like,
this is it.

Come on, Tommy.


Feels good.

I'm down in the meadow

watching Tommy
trying to get to Wino Tower,

which is the next big feature
above them.

It's this mythical landmark

about two-thirds of the way
up El Capitan.

This three foot pedestal
2,000 feet up the Wall.

The first horizontal ledge

where you can stand up,
sit down, lie down

on the entire route.

And it signifies
the end of the hardest climbing.

One more hard pitch
to get to Wino Tower.

That's crazy!

For years, I'd envisioned this
moment of getting to Wino Tower.

So I'm freaking out inside.

Good, Tommy. Come on.

Climbing really tense
and kind of shaking nervous.

Keep breathing, dude.

Come on.


Just trying
to calm myself down enough

to make it through
the final last little bit.



I feel a little shaky.

Yeah, I might pass out.

I can't believe
I'm here right now.

I know it's not over yet,
but that's big.

I'm at Wino Tower.

What are you feeling?

I want Kevin to experience this,
too, for sure.

It was this huge victory.

But it's totally trumped
by the fact

that Kevin wasn't going
to do it with me.

Suddenly, I just felt alone.

I think Kevin probably did, too.

What a crazy experience
this has been.

It crashed down on me

that going to the top without
Kevin was gonna be devastating.

Just got to get KJ up here now.

So I decided in that moment

that we were going to get
to the top together.

- What will you do?
- Everything I can to help him.


I'm going to go
into full-on support mode.

That night, we both
go back down to the camp.

We were cooking dinner.

It was real quiet.

And I knew it was
this emotional moment for Tommy.

But he's not very good
at verbalizing.


Tommy just told me,
in classic Tommy style,

I don't care how long it takes
for you to get through pitch 15,

because I can't imagine
a worse outcome

than doing this alone.

I don't want to hold you back,
is the thing.

You're three days
from the top now or some shit.

It's a pretty special moment.

I know I can do that pitch.

Yeah, for sure.

And I feel like if I can do that
pitch, I'd be so fucking psyched

that there's nothing

that's going to stop me
between there and the top.

I think that's true.

Just keep stretching.
Make sure...

I think I need to do
some arm lengthening stretches.

So we decided that I
would rest two consecutive days

so that my skin could heal

and try again.

The idea
of Tommy waiting,

to risk your own success

in the hopes that maybe
by some miracle Kevin can do it,

that's a partner right there.

Coffee for KJ.

But there's no guarantee
that Kevin's ever gonna make it.

I mean, I thought that Kevin
was maybe not going to make it.

And I was hoping that,

since this had been
a dream of Tommy's

a lot longer than it had been
a dream of Kevin's,

that Tommy would find a way
to complete this climb.

As Tommy's friend, selfishly,

I'm thinking to myself, like,

"Kevin, dude, time to throw in
the towel and support Tommy."

Somebody less gracious than
Tommy Caldwell might have said,

"I've got to go on without you."

But he was
committed to Kevin.

"We're doing this together."

And he wouldn't have been Tommy
if he'd done it any other way.

This just in.
Those two American climbers...

- Kevin Jorgeson.
- Kevin Jorgeson.

Stuck for seven straight days.

determined to wait...

One of them
refusing to move higher

without his partner
stuck below.

So will they make it?

Can you imagine?
This really is no joke.

The media started
to sound like a tabloid.

Is Jorgeson
spoiling Tommy's dreams?

Down below, the
crowd is waiting and watching.

Hey, Tommy,
what's the weather look like?

Oh, wait. That's right,
you dropped your phone.

Dropped my phone last night.

I had my chest pocket unzipped.
It just fell out.

Hopefully, I didn't kill anybody
down there.

I'd heard that Tommy dropped
his phone, and I said,

"Did he really drop his phone?"

"Or is he just saying,
don't call me anymore?"

So fed up with the media circus.

I think he didn't drop it.

He threw it off.

Yup. Guess we've got to just
enjoy the view now.

Over the next few days,

Tommy was content
right where we were,

for however long
it was going to be.

He's just stoked to be up there,

and it's no big deal if it takes
another rest day or two

or three or five or whatever.

Yeah, I feel like I've
just been appreciating things

a little bit more
the last few days.

Ah, sun.

Tommy basically said,
"No hurry. I'm patient."

They're going to get through it.
Don't freak out.

Don't worry about the rest
of the world that's watching.

Let's tune them out.
It's just you and me.

It became the two of them.

I think I have to
try to front-step more,

because when it comes time
to step on that middle foot,

I can't front-step it or in-step
it cos this foot's in the way.

A couple of your falls last time

were just cos you couldn't find
that right foot.

So even if it's a little bit
harder, it's going to be better.

Tommy's attitude helped
take a bit of the pressure off.

But I was still gonna have to do
the hardest thing I've ever done

for this to end well.

Trying to make history

on one of the hardest climbs
in the world.

'N, what's the story'?

U.“ Here's the story.

I'm only about 30 feet up,
and I've called my momma twice.

Can you imagine?

I'm on what's called
a portaledge

that's secured to this wall.

These two climbers
are using one of these

secured to a flat surface.

They're having to sleep
on one of these things,

for weeks possibly, trying
to make an impossible climb.

And me? I have holds here
I can use to climb the wall.

Scaling the jagged
cliff known as El Capitan...

Who is that, Fitz?

- Daddy.
- Daddy.

Getting on the airplane.

Fitz and I have been home

waiting for our moment to get
on a plane and get out here.

And it's finally come.
We're here.

Hey, Fitz, do you see
way up high on El Cap?

- Yeah.
- Yeah? Can you see Daddy?

After failing
for so many years,

there was times when I
definitely felt like giving up.

But it was actually Becca
who helped me to keep going.

Seeing him
in his element,

I saw this focus
and this purpose.

I really respected him.

And we fell in love.

Becca became
my biggest supporter.

We got married.

And then we got pregnant
shortly after.


We had a little boy
named Fitz.

Hi, Fitz.

The first day that I had
this little baby in my arms,

I was overcome with the emotion.

I thought, how am I going to be
a good example to Fitz?

How great it is
to be a Caldwell boy.

Tommy had always viewed
his dad as a superhero,

and he wanted to be
a superhero for Fitz.

I wanted Fitz to look at
me with that same sort of awe.

I wanted to show Fitz
how to be passionate...


...and how to dream big.

He already does.

The Dawn Wall
embodied that.

And so it made me
want it even more.

I told him,
you can't stop now.

You have to do everything
to make this happen.

One, two, three,
four, five.

Sometimes you zoom out

and you think about
what a process it's been,

this wild six-year journey
with Tommy.

Did Kevin start already?

And now here we are

at the moment of truth.

And we've just been

Hard to put into words
something so big.

He's not going to give up.

I couldn't imagine

what he must have been
going through at that moment.

I don't remember
the first 50 feet of that pitch.

I watched him
go into the section

where he had fallen
so many times.

I just hold my breath.

You pull
as hard as you can.

Move your feet.


You're just trying
not to tip over backwards.

Put the heel on.

Slide the hand up.

Take the heel off.

Drop the right hand in.

Heel back on.

Left hand down.

Heart rate starts to go up.

My adrenaline starts
going, cos he's still hanging on

in this place that he had fallen
so many times.

Yeah, Kevin!



Watching him do it,
I was just awestruck.

I was like, I can't believe
that just happened.

He did it.

Freaking guy actually
did this thing, right?

You're like, "What?"

After seven days,

Jorgeson got past
the most difficult...

Past the toughest
section of the climb.

Yes, he made it.

And now it's upward.

And you start thinking, are his
fingers OK? Can he do 16, 17?

Is this over yet?

I had just finished
the hardest pitch of my life,

and I couldn't even celebrate.

I just need to catch up.

The next pitch
is this big Dyno

that's so hard
that Tommy can't do it,

he's got to climb around it.

There's no way in hell

that I'm going to try
Tommy's crazy loop pitch.

So that same night I start
trying the 8 and 1/2 foot Dyno.



Kevin, through some kind
of magic or levitation,

actually does this Dyno
that Tommy was never able to do.

- So good.
- Tonight, Kevin... just a few
hundred feet behind Caldwell.

All these hard pitches
just keep coming.


It was like a fight
to the death.

- Oh, no.
- Rock!

That is a bad hold to rip off.

Oh, man.

I think
it's a lot harder now.

That didn't take him too long
to figure it out.

Nice, KJ!

It's just
a little more tension.

Like we need more of that
on this route.

The last pitch
getting to Wino Tower,

this crazy fog came in.

Kevin sends this pitch
right now,

he's going to be
caught up with me.


Nice one, Kevin.

I just remember
seeing Tommy at the anchor

and having such a huge wash
of gratefulness.

Oh! I can't believe
we're here.

So good, man.

We're reunited
at our high points now.

I can't believe we did it.

Going up from there on out
together to the top.

Come on, Jorgeson.
Come on.

He was sitting on five
days' rest while I caught up.

Pretty sure he's going to
pull me up the wall today.

From here on it's just
a matter of grinding it out.

So we get up and we stay
300 feet from the top.

We wake up this last morning.

The sun comes on the Dawn Wall.

It hits the top
of the Wall first,

and we're the only thing
in Yosemite actually in the sun.

So happy-

This is a good moment
right here.

This is definitely
a good moment.

Does it get any better
than this?

I'm just enjoying
my last day

being up here with my friend.

I think we should just stay.

Just cancel the whole thing.

We're going to camp here
for another day.

Living on a wall
where everything is so simple

for 19 days,

we were going to miss
that experience.

Good morning
to our viewers.

It's been an exciting 24 hours
here in Yosemite.

Tommy Caldwell
and Kevin Jorgeson

spent 19 days on the Wall.

There were 15 TV trucks,
reporters from all over.

There was a webcam.

Millions of people were actually
watching this live.

Like a moon landing
or something.

A lot of their friends
and family had come out.

A number of people hiked up
El Cap the back way,

and you could watch these guys
go up the final pitches.

And they're cheering them on.

I love you! Whoo!

It's gonna be awesome.

Seeing Tommy
do the Dawn Wall,

I was super happy for him.

Just knowing how much
was emotionally wrapped up

in the route for him,

I was really proud of him.

Actually seeing he was
going to complete this climb,

it was just, wow.

After 19 days,

Tommy Caldwell pulling himself
over the edge of the Dawn Wall.

Followed minutes later by
climbing partner Kevin Jorgeson.

And the crowd cheered

as the two men accomplished
a feat many said was impossible.

There aren't a lot
of moments that choke me up

in sports anymore.
I've been doing this too long.

I'll never forget a scene
of them rejoicing.

This is the moment that's been
so many years in the making.

Now forever enshrined
in history.

Inspiring millions
around the world,

even at the White House,

where President Obama
gave a thumbs up.

It's done. It's done.

You are shaking like a leaf.

Are you cold
or are you emotional?

- I'm emotional.
- OK.

He's worked so hard
for this.

That moment
he describes as bittersweet.

This whole experience
that drove him for so long,

it was over.

Anything that you'd like to say
about El Cap?

I've totally fallen in love
with that piece of rock.

It's been a big centerpiece
of my life.

And I just feel so thankful
every day.

Tommy and Kevin
join us now on SportsCenter.

I know Tommy's lost his voice
a little bit.

It drove me
every day for seven years.


What did your first real shower
in 19 days feel like?

I, like the entire world,
was watching you.

And I just thought, why?

Throwing out today's
first pitch, Kevin Jorgeson.

Tommy Caldwell's
new autobiography, "The Push".

You were captured
by militants in Kyrgyzstan?

Turns out

the militant
actually survived the fall.

The rebel
was put on trial

and found guilty of terrorism,
murder, and kidnapping.

♪ I have been to the mountain

♪ And I have walked on his shore

♪ I have seen

♪ But I can't see him no more

♪ I have been to the valley

♪ And I have sung all her songs

You can do it.

♪ Watch me sing



Mantle. Come on, try hard.

You've got to work hard
and focus.

♪ And I have walked
on his shore... ♪

You can do it.
You're working really hard.


Come on, Fitz. You got it.
You can do it. Come on, buddy.

Come on.

Remember, push up strong.


Don't forget to breathe.

Come on. Yeah.
Try hard. Try hard.

Come on, Fitz.
You got it. Yeah.

Way to focus in.

Good perseverance.


Nice mantle, buddy.

High five.