The Dawn Wall
Working Hard When No One's Looking
By Sarah Knapp
Wednesday afternoon climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson moved from sponsored athletes to climbing superstars as they successfully completed the Dawn Wall. Live feeds and updates from reporters waiting in Yosemite captured the attention of the global masses who watched them finish the climb, hug and drink champagne at the summit.
What boggles my mind is everything that happened before 2015. Before the last push that included the famed Pitch 15 and the super glue. These men have been eating, sleeping, and breathing the Dawn Wall for years - not 19 days. It's almost comical how much the media has focused on the length of time they were on the wall this year when it's a drop in the bucket compared to the number of nights they've spent in bivies training, learning and trying again each season.
In climbing (mostly bouldering), the route you're working on can be referred to as a problem. And it took these climbers years to find a solution to the Dawn Wall. Each year, they had to fully commit themselves to this project putting aside other opportunities to be able to return. Their commitment not only to spending a season on the wall but to training is at the core of this accomplishment. Because they've not just been the top climbers this week or even just for the past three weeks but also every season they even got on the Dawn Wall and pushed themselves and the limits of climbing just a little bit further.
And each year they had to go home when the weather turned, unfinished and unrecognized. This is what I find truly amazing. While they finished in the public eye and are finally being given the recognition they deserved, the true work went in over 5+ years of dreaming, training, and failing. It's that dedication and that will to succeed when not many were paying attention that really defines the character of the climbers and the true accomplishment of taking on and completing the Dawn Wall. It begs the question of all us - how hard are you willing to work when no one is looking?