El Capitan free climbers talk about what drove them to success of historic proportions

National/World News
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reach the summit of a 3,000-foot tall rock formation called El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson reach the summit of a 3,000-foot tall rock formation Dawn Wall since Dec. 27, 2014 to reach top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California.

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Data pix.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- Professional climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completed their free climb of El Capitan's Dawn Wall and reached the top of one of the world's most difficult climbs at Yosemite National Park Wednesday afternoon.

Since December 27, Caldwell and Jorgeson have been scaling the 3,000-foot rock formation.

The route Caldwell and Jorgenson took is called the Dawn Wall, according to a blog Caldwell's wife has been updating since the climb started.

There are many routes up El Capitan, but only a handful have been attempted by climbers trying to free climb -- using only their hands and feet -- with ropes designed only to catch them when they fall.

And perhaps no route is more challenging than the Dawn Wall, which offers few footholds and may be the most difficult climb in the world.

Caldwell and Jorgeson become the first to successfully free-climb the smooth cliff face.

Caldwell's hometown of Estes Park celebrates his accomplishment:

Data pix.

For Caldwell, it's a dream that has been in the making for several years. An accomplished climber, Caldwell already completed five other routes on El Capitan, according to his bio. But family members say the Dawn Wall route is one that has consumed him.

"He was looking for more of a challenge" said Caldwell's father Mike. "He started going up and repelling down and trying to see if he could see holds that could turn into a climb. Over a two-year period, he probably spent 25-30 days on the wall just looking it over."

Jorgeson, who started climbing competitively as a teenager, didn't know Caldwell until he decided to join him on the climb.

"Kevin called Tommy offering to help with the climb and that's how they met," Mike Caldwell said.

The team attempted an earlier push on the project several years ago, but were shut down due to weather, according to Caldwell's Facebook page.

"It's an amazing feeling to accomplish something you have devoted your life to for years," Jorgeson said through a news release. "Tommy dreamed it could be done, and I could not be more honored to have been his partner on this journey. I hope it might inspire others who may not have been familiar with rock climbing to experience it for themselves."

Look at the photos from the climb and you will be in awe, if not inspired.

The journey up the Dawn Wall was documented on Caldwell and Jorgeson's Instagram accounts, Caldwell and Jorgeson's Facebook accounts and YouTube.

The two began climbing on December 27 and didn't come off the wall until the finished. They slept in hanging cots. Others sent them food when they needed it. They had safety ropes for the times they lost hold.

Jorgeson, 30, struggled with pitch 15. It mastered him for a week. But on Sunday, he beat it, gained back his momentum and a bit of confidence.

Caldwell, 36, who CNN affiliate KTLA said lost past of one finger doing work on his home, had gone ahead and waited on his comrade.

They reached the top Wednesday afternoon.

"This is spectacular," Caldwell's mother, Terry, told KTLA. "This was his biggest project, his biggest dream. He called it his 'Moby Dick.' ... He kept saying, 'I don't know if this is possible; I'm just going to keep working on it.' "

There are more than 100 routes up El Capitan, but only a handful have been attempted by climbers trying to free climb.

"So proud of @TommyCaldwell1 and @KJorgeson for conquering El Capitan. You remind us that anything is possible. -bo," President Barack Obama tweeted.

The two didn't speak to the media Wednesday. They probably were a bit tired.

Dawn Wall climb resources:

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