The Dawn Wall
For several weeks this January, I was a little obsessed with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson's attempt to free climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. I am fascinated with these feats in which my first question always seems to be "Why would anyone do that?" Tommy Caldwell had a pretty eloquent answer to that question, "For me the Dawn Wall is the perfect venue for some of the most important values I want to show [my son] Fitz," Caldwell wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of him hugging his son. "Optimism, perseverance, dedication and the importance of dreaming big." Jorgenson echoed these sentiments, adding "I wanted to see what I was capable of, and this was the biggest canvas and the most audacious project I could join and see to the finish."
Because both of the climbers were active on social media, tweeting and posting on instagram daily, their efforts found a pretty strong following from other climbers (both the real and the armchair type.) Then John Branch of the New York Times wrote an article that captured people's attention and soon the mainstream media was reporting progress on the nightly news. Here's an interview he did about covering the adventure.
You might still ask, "Why?" or you could just ask #WhatsYourDawnWall
To get a sense of what they faced, here's video of Caldwell on the toughest pitch of the ascent: