Dawn Wall Update: Ondra Reaches the Crux of the Climb

800px ElCapitan

Czech climbing phenom Adam Ondra is making short work of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite at the moment. On Tuesday of this week he knocked off three more difficult pitches and positioned himself just below the most challenging part of the climb. His focus now will be to push through these crux pitches over the next few days, and before moving on to complete the second ascent of what many consider the toughest rock climb in the world.

Earlier in the week I posted an update on Ondra’s progress saying that he and climbing partner Pavel Blazek had completed their full scouting expedition up the Dawn Wall last week, and had now begun what they called the “final push” of the climb. That is a ground-up ascent of this massive wall that sits along El Capitan’s southeast face. On Monday, they launched those efforts, quickly blasting through the first nine pitches. Now, they’ve made further progress with the most difficult pitches ahead of them.

On Tuesday, Adam and Pavel stayed on their own schedule by completing pitches 10 through 13. That put them right below what is considered the crux of the entire climb, pitches 14, 15, and 16. Once he manages to complete those sections, the remaining 16 pitches are relatively straight forward and easier, although as with all big walls, there will still be some challenges to overcome.

As most of you already know, the Dawn Wall was first climbed back in 2015, when Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made their historic ascent. Ondra is trying to repeat that feat, and on his first visit to Yosemite no less. How’s he doing so far? According to Rock and Ice, he reached pitch 13 on day two of his climb, something that took Tommy and Kevin six days to accomplish.

It is difficult to overstate just how impressive Ondra’s Dawn Wall climb has been so far. While Caldwell and Jorgeson took seven years to scout the route and put all the pieces together, the Czech climber has only been in Yosemite Valley for a month. He obviously benefits greatly from having the two American climbers set out the route ahead of him, but being able to essentially onsite the toughest climb in the world is nothing short of remarkable.

The next three pitches could take some time to complete. They have very few hand holds, with just some tiny cracks to hold onto on the way up. This section of the climb is so difficult that Ondra decided to rest yesterday in preparation for the push. To put things in perspective, it took Jorgeson six days to complete pitch 15 alone. It could be awhile before Ondra and Blazek make more progress too.

Stay tuned for more updates as the climb continues to unfold.

Kraig Becker