Monday, November 15, 2010

I won't be blogging much from the wall but you can follow our progress via Twitter @kjorgeson.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Here we go!

Tomorrow morning, November 13, Tommy and I will hike to the base of El Cap. However, this time the familiar approach will feel definitively different. This time, we are not coming down at the end of the day. This time, it's for real. Our camps are stashed, our beta is refined, and the weather is clear. For the next two weeks, Tommy and I are finally beginning our send push. We call it a push because, after the first day, it will undoubtedly be a battle for every pitch.

Day 1 is one of most important days of the push. We will cover more ground on our first day than any other day over the next two weeks. Our plan is to climb the first 8 pitches, which break down like this:

Pitch 1: 5.12b glacier polished slab, KJ lead
KJ mini-traxioning Pitch 1 earlier this season

Pitch 2: 5.13a crack, TC lead
Pitch 3: 5.13d discontinuous cracks, KJ lead
KJ on the first crux of Pitch 3, November 2009, Tim Kemple Photo

Pitch 4: 5.12b corner and crack with wet streak at the top, TC lead
Pitch 5: 5.12d crack and lieback with wet sections throughout, KJ lead
Pitch 6: 5.13c corner and face, TC lead
Tommy on Pitch 6 in November 2009, Tim Kemple Photo

Pitch 7: 5.14a lieback with hard crux at the top, protected by peckers, KJ lead
Tommy on Pitch 7 in November 2009, Tim Kemple Photo

Pitch 8: 5.13+ boulder problem, TC lead
Camp is stashed at the top of pitch 8

Day 2 will consist of pitch 9, 5.13b, and hopefully a send of pitch 10, 5.14.

Pitch 9, 5.13b

Tommy mini-traxioning the bottom of Pitch 10

After day two and the completion of pitch 10 (which is a monster), we will likely be spending one day for each pitch thereafter with rest days mixed in. Pitches 12, 13, 14, and 15 are all 5.14, and solid at that. This effort is the culmination of roughly 65 days of work over three season. I don't think I'm going to sleep well tonight, but only because I can't wait to get started. I'll do my best to update from the wall as we make progress.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Pitch 16: The Dyno

It's October 18th already! Where has the time gone!? After my birthday, Tommy and I got right to work by hiking up the East Ledges and establishing our basecamp on Wino Tower. Despite the seasonal early October storm, the weather has remained warm (80's!), far too hot to work on these tough pitches in the daylight. This was no surprise however. We planned on doing a lot of night climbing this season and that's exactly what we've been doing. About 4pm every day, the wall goes into the shade. We'll eat a big dinner and rappel off Wino Tower to work on the 4 pitches below us (pitch 16: 5.14, pitch 17: 5.13c, pitch 18: 5.13c or d and pitch 19: 5.13c). Climbing at night has worked out great. It's quiet, cool, and time seems to stand still. Hours will pass in the solitude of your headlamp and thoughts before arriving back at Wino Tower sometime in the middle of the night.

During our last two day stint on the wall, Tommy and I focused on the "Dyno Pitch." This pitch features three distinct cruxes: the dyno (obviously), the super thin dihedral directly above, and the crimp liebacking at the top. On the first night (we've been climbing from 5pm - 1am lately for optimal conditions), we worked out a great sequence for the dihedral and liebacking. Tommy linked the pitch from above the dyno to the top and I managed from the middle of the dihedral to the top. This was a huge breakthrough for both of us. The next morning was cloudy and windy, so we had the treat of climbing in the daylight. When Tommy said he wanted to work on the dyno that day, I wasn't so sure. But, after a few cups of coffee, I could hardly contain myself. Our buddy Cooper Blackhurst was with us and snapped a few photos of the dyno...

The Set Up

The Leap!!

The Catch

To my great surprise, my body remembered how to execute the move, and within a few tries, I was sticking the dyno! This was a great relief for me, as this is one more of seven 5.14 pitches that is feeling more and more feasible with every attempt. Where Tommy excels at super technical climbing, I guess I can jump. Tommy came close to sticking the move at least 15 times, but alas, no dice. I'm not too worried though. He'll stick it. And when he does, we'll turn our attention to the MEAT of the climb: the two traverse pitches between Mescalito and The Wall of Early Morning Light.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For the last 11 years, I have been spending my birthday in Yosemite. The tradition started on my 16th birthday and has since grown to a great community trip of my closest friends and family. To everyone who made it out, thanks for making it a great birthday. To those who didn't make it, you were missed! 

It's that time of year again: Valley season! Tommy and I will be in Yosemite for all of October and November trying to finish off the Dawn Wall/Mescalito Project. I'm packing up everything I need for the next two months: ropes, fresh shoes, haul bags, rack, tons of chalk, and a whole summer's worth of psyche. I think about El Cap every day. I even dreamt about the first traverse pitch a couple nights ago. The pitch ends standing at a no hands rest on a 9 inch wide foot ledge. You're smack in the middle of the blankest part of the wall, surrounded by a sea of granite, strangely comfortable. In my dream, I made it through all the cruxes and was rocking onto the foot ledge (also quite hard) when I finally stood up, only to realize that I was so precariously perched I couldn't reach to clip the anchors without falling! Noooooooo!!!!  While in Colorado this summer, Tommy and I did a long interview with Dougald McDonald in Estes Park. The interview and photos (from Tim Kemple and Corey Rich) just hit the newstands in the October issue of Climbing Magazine. I was worried about all the press this project has been receiving, especially considering the fact that it is still a project. I didn't want it to create the expectation and pressure of completion. Instead, To my relief, it feels like there is an overwhelming level of support, energy and encouragement. This goes a long way when the going gets tough, so thank you.   

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

All Access DVD

Hey all,

I just caught wind the of that Petzl has teamed up with Access Fund to produce the All Access DVD, the proceeds of which benefit the AF 100%. I was happy to see that Chuck Fryberger donated my segment from PURE to the cause, as I have long been a supporter and member of the AF. Check out the press release below for full details.



Petzl Announces Release of All Access DVD
Filmmakers Rally to Support Conservation and Climbing; All Proceeds Dedicated to Keeping Climbing Areas Open

CLEARFIELD, Utah (April 22nd, 2010) – Petzl, a leader in technical climbing gear and hands-free lighting, today announced the release of All Access, a compilation of climbing films from the industry’s top adventure filmmakers. All Access features ten original climbing films, with 100% of proceeds to benefit the Access Fund ( and its efforts toward keeping climbing areas open.

Last summer, several leading climbing manufacturers united to support the Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign, or AFLCC (, the first-ever multi-million-dollar revolving loan program that provides local climbing organizations (LCOs) and other agencies with the funds and expertise needed to act quickly to save threatened climbing areas. Petzl was among the first to step up and contribute, taking a step further in committing to long-term investment in and support of the AFLCC.

To support the AFLCC, Petzl’s John Evans, an Access Fund Board member, decided to get creative, involving the climbing community at large and reaching beyond the trade for awareness and support. Evans solicited climbing filmmakers to contribute short, inspiring climbing films for the All Access compilation DVD.

“It was incredible how willing and motivated everyone was to commit to this project,” said Evans. “It is truly a community effort, and one with real impact -- an effort by climbers, for climbers, to keep climbing access a reality for everyone.”

Petzl committed to covering the production costs for each DVD, and the filmmakers agreed to donate their work for the effort, making the project viable.

All Access features the following films from a talented roster of climbing filmmakers:

Catching Reality – Emil Sergel

    Hey Presto – Paul Diffley, Hot Aches Productions

    Infinity Lane – TLC Productions

    Medeoz – Guillaume Broust

    PURE: Sonoma County with Kevin Jorgeson – Chuck Fryberger

    Steph Davis – Sender Films

    Steve McClure, Hubble – Ben Pritchard

    Weeks Before Winter, featuring Chris Sharma – Mike Call

Plus a bonus film, Blind and Naked, by Cedar Wright, and an Access Fund message from Big Up Productions’ Josh Lowell.

“Access is an important issue that all climbers have in common,” said Chuck Fryberger, an All Access contributor. “This project was a great call to action for climbers and climbing filmmakers alike.”

A trailer of All Access can be viewed at

and the All Access DVD can be purchased through the Access Fund Store ( on Mountain Gear online (, and at climbing festivals and events including the Banff Film Festival and the New River Rendezvous. Purchasing the DVD at a participating event will reward the buyer with instant gratification in the form of a free copy ofClimbing magazine.

About The Access Fund
Since 1991, the Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. The Access Fund supports and represents over 2.3 million climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Five core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, and education. For more information visit

About Petzl
For over 50 years, Petzl has been developing innovative tools and techniques used by those entering the vertical world. Today, the Petzl brand is closely associated with adventure, exploration, rescue, and many notable exploits in the worlds of rock climbing and alpinism. Petzl climbing hardware and headlamps can be found in outdoor specialty shops and premium sporting goods retailers around the world. For more information, log on to

Friday, April 2, 2010

CORE on Blue Ray

I just got a note from Chuck Fryberger that his new film, CORE, is now available in Blu Ray! This is a first for climbing media! Click the link below to order your copy now!

Chuck and I shot together in South Africa last summer where I had the opportunity to explore the VAST potential for highball/solo first ascents. Chuck captured several of these for CORE, including:

Welcome to Rocklands

Put Some Bachar Into It

Be sure to check the tour schedule for a show near you:
Check back often as new shows are being added daily! If you are around Sonoma County at the end of April, I will be hosting a premiere of CORE in Santa Rosa, CA at the Lakeside Rialto Cinema on the 27th at 7pm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Battle in the Bubble

It's coming. The Battle in the Bubble. May 14-15, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. Professional Climbers International (PCI) and The Spot have teamed up to bring a fresh new competition format, amazing outdoor venue and the top athletes to Boulder for what is surely to be a very exciting event. Check out the videos:

"Battle in the Bubble" Pro Invitational from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.

BATTLE IN THE BUBBLE Part Two with Daniel Woods from Cedar Wright on Vimeo.


Well, the weather finally descended upon us and forced us off the wall for a few days. A decent sized storm came through the Sierras and dumped a lot of fresh snow. We are going to give it a few days for the ice to stop falling and the wall to dry out, then get back after it early next week. The verdict from the last trip up the wall was: it all goes. The Molar Traverse is an amazing, mega-classic, super hard pitch. But totally possible!

Matador Sports shot me an email while I was on the wall, asking about how the progress was coming. I just got the chance to answer the questions and the interview has been posted here:

We'll be back.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring conditions

Well, we knew we rolling the dice by coming this early in the season. We are the only ones on El Cap at the moment. The spring snow melt off the top starts raining down on us at 4pm each day, making us retreat back to the portaledge and fly. Not to worry though. We get up early each morning and push hard until it gets too wet. Today we worked on pitches 9 and 10, roughly 5.12+ and 5.14 respectively. Pitch 10 is a beautiful seam lieback that you can clealy see from the valley floor. Each move is harder than the last for the full 100 foot pitch. I'm looking forward to trying this pitch some more, as it's my anti-style. Once the rain started, I worked on the cruz of pitch 8, which happened to be directly below the portaledge and remained dry for 30 minutes longer than the rest o the wall. This section, being short and powerful, felt great! Tomorrow we venture up to check out the last unexplored pitch on the route: the Molar Traverse. Wish us luck! We're psyched!

- Posted from the wall

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dinner time

- Posted from the wall

Heads up!

- Posted from the wall

Finally on the wall

At 1:30, we couldn't wait any longer and we started jugging our fixed lines. Even so, we were getting hit here and there with ice chunks. Nothing too big luckily. Just as we made it up to the top of our lines, the afternoon wind and snow melt rain started. This made setting up the portaledge interesting, but we got the fly on and now we're chilling out of the weather. I think we are going to put some rain gear on and aid the next pitch so that we are good to go in the morning to push higher. We'll see. Because of the conditions, I was only able to snap one picture on the way up of the gear that protects the crux of the 5.14 seventh pitch.

A pecker and a super old copperhead. Sort of equalized. Sweet!

More later or tomorrow.

- Posted from the wall

Heads up!

It raining on and off all night last night and was quite cold. We are at the base right now where it is raining down chunks of ice. Some are the size of ice cubes and others look like flying guillotines. So, because are helmets are up inthe haul bags, we are playing it safe by hanging out in the forest a few hundred feet back from the base of the wall until the ice stops falling. Nice view though, no?

- Posted from the base of the wall, curled in the fetal position, waiting for the torment of raining ice to stop. Not really. But we are at the base.

Location:Wawona,United States

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Key

Packing for the wall. Photo by Tom Evans.

Hauling the bags up to the top of pitch 5, on our way to getting them up to pitch 8.

This route is BLANK. There are 2 ledges on the entire route. TWO. One on top of pitch 5 and one on top of pitch 17. Otherwise, it's totally sheer. Thank god for our portaledge!!

Tomorrow we are headed up for the next 4 days to explore the last 4 unclimbed pitches on the route. Tommy has aided through this section before, but its never seen a free climb attempt. We are expecting some serious difficulty with the Molar Traverse pitch, which is basically like the Great Roof on The Nose, but reversed. It looks much longer, harder, and involved. With 4 days, we will really be able to spend some serious time on each pitch, which is key. What we're learning is that it's going to take an intimate knowledge of each pitch, top to bottom, to climb this thing. It's so consistently difficult, that every pitch must be climbed with no wasted energy. I love this work because it's just like working a highball in a way. We rehearse the pitches, find the absolute best sequence, make it super efficient, and then fire it. The only difference is that the climbs are 150 feet long, not 40, and there are 30 some odd in a row. Hmmmm. Well, maybe its not like highball bouldering at all. Oh well. I'm loving it anyway. I'll try to update from the wall on our progress if we get the solar charger for our phones to work. A big storm is coming in on Tuesday, so we should be down by Monday night. More soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot in the sun

We're chillin on the portaledge at the top of pitch 7, baking in the sun. The conditions were great between 7 and 10, with overcast skies and crisp air. The clouds have since parted and it's time to sit back, relax, eat some lunch, and wait for the afternoon shade.

- Posted from the wall

Top of pitch 6

- Posted from the wall

Top of pitch 2

We are mini traxioning (self belay) the first 7 pitches today

Hanging at belay

Tommy at top of first pitch

Pitch 3 here I come

Mini traxion set up

- Posted from the wall

Daybreak at the base

- Posted from the wall

Early start

A day of photos to come.

- Posted from the drive to the meadow

Location:Northside Dr,Wawona,United States

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mescalito: Days 1-3

The spring season is in full effect here in Yosemite. The snow is melting, the temperatures are warm, and the crowds are coming........

Arriving on Tuesday afternoon, El Cap was completely soaked from head to toe. I was instantly depressed, thinking that we had come to early in the season to get anything done. Tommy and I met up in the morning and discussed doing some training routes instead, but decided to go see how the wall looked in the sun. Sure enough: bone dry. I could hardly believe I was looking at the same wall as the night before. El Cap has its own micro-climate that I'm still trying to understand. This aspect however is quite simple. As long as the wall is in the sun, the snow run off evaporates before it hits the wall. As soon as it goes in the shade however, it literally starts raining, soaking it from top to bottom.

To deal with this situation, we are going ground up each day, pushing our fixed lines higher and higher while the wall is in the sun. Each morning we mini-traxion our way back up to our high point (which is great for getting the bottom pitches dialed), lead up a few more pitches, then head to the ground for dinner. Pretty sweet! Today I hiked some loads to the base so that we are ready to blast wall-style as soon as it dries out. All of our food, clothing, sleeping stuff and water are packed and ready to go. We're both really looking forward to trying pitches 7-10, as Tommy has only aided through them in the past. He said they look possible, but it will be nice to know for certain.

So far, we have the first 5 pitches fixed. We are getting an alpine start tomorrow to take advantage of the early morning shade (hope it's not soaked!) and hope to get a few new pitches in before the afternoon shade and ensuing blanket of wetness descends. Here's how the pitches stack up so far:
Pitch 1: 5.12b slab
Pitch 2: 5.13a seam
Pitch 3: 5.13c seam and face
Pitch 4: 5.12b corner
Pitch 5: 5.12d corner

And on the agenda for tomorrow:
Pitch 6: 5.13c corner
Pitch 7: 5.13+/5.14- corner
Pitch 8: 5.14- ?

We'll see!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mescalito Media

I just saw the product of the BD shoot Tommy and I did on El Cap last season with Tim Kemple and Pete Vinitov. I think they did a great job capturing the scope of the project. Big thanks to Mike Call for the edit, and of course BD for all the gear!

You can check out the videos, photos and writing by either going BD's home page and surfing around, or follow the direct links below.

Tommy and I are back in Yosemite for the next 6 weeks or so. I'll be updating occasionally here, so stay tuned.

VIDEO Part 1: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

VIDEO Part 2: BD athletes Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempting to free El Cap's hardest climb from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Big Wall Cribs with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on El Capitan from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Signature Asana Crash Pad: Phase 3: Testing

So, I just spent a week and half in Bishop testing the new prototypes (5 made in all) with the Asana Team. We compiled a bunch of great feedback that will only make the pad better. I will spare you the details for now, until we have the next prototype finished next week. Then you can see the changes for yourself. We have improvements being made to nearly every element of the pad, really dialing it in. I'd say that our first prototype was about 85% of the way there. The last 15% is coming from fine tuned changes to the carrying system, closure system, foam combination, and measurement details.

Charlie Barrett and I checking out the differences between our two prototypes

Checking out the gear storage system

Nice burly handles

Talking design...

Golden Shower, v10

Took come good drops from here before committing to the heel hook crux last move. Simply amazing boulder problem!

Mesothelioma, v7 or so

As promised, I will take your comments into consideration. See below.

awesome ... it looks cool - bether than my big madrock pad ... i hope to get one of these here in europe :)
Thanks Martin. We plan on offering them globally, so stay tuned if you're interested!

m. said...
I wonder about the hing system though. Up here in Squamish we find it quite difficult to flatten out landings with that style. I prefer a taco style. Also with damp ground it's nice to have a top fabric that allows you to wipe your feet dry. Aside from those small points the pad looks quite beefy.

When you say that you prefer the taco style for flattening out landings, do you mean that you like to fill in holes with the folded up pad? Or, do you find that the full taco simply does a better job of staying rigid over the gaps? Would love to hear some further input on this fact. Regarding a top fabric to dry your feet, we will be swapping out those camo accents on the corners of the pad with carpet. We noticed the same problem in Bishop with all the snow around. Thanks!

Anonymous said...
Whoever comes up with a viable inflatable/deflatable pad will own and revolutionize the market. The main impediment to these things are their size, making them impracticable for air travel (and having 4 of them in a small rental car once you get there), not to mention the stigma of walking around with a mattress strapped to your back. Also the CFC's involved in manufacturing the foam pad itself makes them about the least green, least recyclable, least biodegradeable climbing-related product on the market.

Maybe ThermaRest, the inflatable sleeping pad company, could be
approached for input as to how to make this happen. I think eventually someone will come up with a better idea, and we will all look back and laugh (like we do now about lycra in the 80's) about how ridiculous we all looked carrying mattresses around...

Agreed. Technology is advancing rapidly and climbing equipment is only getting more specialized. Flashed has an Air Pad that is actually quite effective in dispersing the force associated with long falls, however like you said, a design like this is quite heavy to carry...

Corey said...
Have you considered a strap on the top for those of us who like to pad stack and carry multiple pads?

Honestly, we haven't for this model. We feel that it's big enough as is, and when we make the final tweaks (including perhaps a new foam combination), it will clock in around 15 pounds. However, I've seen some creatively simple ways to incorporate what you're talking about, so I'll look into it when I'm in Boise this Monday.

Anonymous said...
Do you plan on double stitching where the shoulder straps connect to the pad? That always seems to be a weak point on crash pads, mainly when carrying a second pad strapped to it. Pad looks awesome and the weight is unreal for a pad that size.

Macca said...
That is one sweet looking prototype! Globally sounds good, try getting a few over to Australia if you can. We are seriously starved of good climbing gear over here!
Send me an email through the contact form on my website and we'll see about getting some over there. Glad you like the look so far!

Anonymous said...
looks rad.
any idea what the price is going to look like?

Stay tuned for the answer to this. We will be discussing it on my next trip to Boise, on Monday. We expect to launch a Pre-Order option very soon.

Jay said...
Wow the pad looks great!

Looks like it has highballs covered. Perhaps a small matt for cleaning the soles of your shoes would be handy also.
Good luck
Sydney OZ

Done. Thanks!

gian said...
wicked pit protector feature!!!

Thanks! It works well!

a bit skeptical about the lightness...
in my very limited experience light pad=crap foam. Heavy pad=sturdy, durable foam.
It's a compromise...

Fair enough. We are using the same foam combination as the old Gunther right now, which held up great. I've been using the Gunther for the past 2 years and the foam is still in great shape. However, we are looking into some different options for foam combinations to help with high impact falls. I'll let you know what we come up with next week.

jack said...
Rad I could definitely use one of these. I like the backpack feature and the straps to keep the pad level. How does it feel to have your own signature pad?
Glad you like what you see. I'm not usually one to do the whole signature line thing. This is a first. As weird as it feels, it's been a joy to work so closely with the design and production team to churn out a great new product.

Stay tuned for the results of the next prototype....