Speed Reads

adventures in climbing

Climbers inch their way up El Capitan using only their hands and feet

Who needs ropes? Using just their hands and feet, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are slowly making their way up the Dawn Wall of El Capitan, the 3,000-foot vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.

If the pair make it to the top, they will be the first ever to free-climb the Dawn Wall, NPR reports. They do have ropes that are only used to break their fall, and even sleep in tents set up on the side of the wall. The trek has been a long time coming: Caldwell and Jorgeson have been planning for years, scaling different parts to place anchors and get to know the route. "It just captured our imagination and seems to be capturing the imagination of the climbing world as well," Caldwell said.

They aren't alone; a team is following behind them with food, batteries, and other supplies, and filmmakers are on hand taking photos and shooting video. "It's a bit like an expedition, like an expedition going up Everest in the way," Caldwell said. The climbers hope to reach the top in about a week, but Caldwell has some mixed feelings about the milestone. "Finishing it is obviously the goal but it's also going to mean that I'm sort of ending a relationship that I've had for seven years," he said. --Catherine Garcia