Last week, American climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made history by becoming the first to reach the summit of Yosemite's El Capitan by way of the 3,000-foot high Dawn Wall using only their hands and feet. The free climb has been called the hardest ever done, and many thought it was impossible.
While it still falls short of what it was really like to experience their grueling and terrifying 19-day quest, a video of Caldwell attacking one of the hardest segments of the climb gives a bit of a taste.
The footage, released by the film crew documenting the ascent, captures tense moments during Caldwell's battle with Pitch 15. The segment is rated a 5.14c on the Yosemite Decimal System, which rates the climb at the very high end of the difficulty scale.
"The crux holds of pitch 15 are some of the smallest and sharpest holds I have ever attempted to hold onto," Tommy wrote on his Facebook page. The video from Patagonia uses four camera angles to show how little Caldwell had to hold onto as he made this critical part of the climb.
Caldwell completed his years-long quest to conquer the Dawn Wall with Jorgensen on Jan. 14, when the two were met by family and friends at the top. Their climb was so challenging because they only used ropes and safety harnesses to catch them when they fell. And they did fall. Using only their legs and arms to inch up the wall left them bloodied and bandaged as they dug into tiny cracks in the rock for a hold. The men didn't leave the wall for more than two weeks, sleeping and struggling on the sheer face with little shelter from the elements.
The Dawn Wall is one of many routes to the top of El Capitan. It was first climbed by Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell in 1970, but they used climbing aids, National Geographic notes. Until Caldwell and Jorgensen went to battle with the wall, no one had made it as a free climb.
A feature film of their climb is to be released in the future. In the meantime, you can watch this video and get a heavy dose of adrenaline.
CLARIFICATION: Language has been amended to reflect more accurately the significance of the Yosemite Decimal system.