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Who Is Kevin Jorgeson? New Details About The Climber Who Scaled El Capitan In 'Dawn Wall' Documentary

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Who Is Kevin Jorgeson? New Details About The Climber Who Scaled El Capitan In 'Dawn Wall' Documentary

What did we ever do without Netflix? From the revival of the rom-com (To All The Boys I've Loved Before) to straight up reality TV style drama (Selling Sunset) to flabbergastingly bad parenting (Abducted in Plain Sight) there's something for pretty much everyone. Now, with the new Netflix documentary The Dawn Wall, adrenaline junkies are getting their day too. The documentary comes from Red Bull — no surprise there! It focuses on world-famous rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson who scaled the Dawn Wall at El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The two men climb the 3,600 foot cliff, which has caused some viewers heart rate's to escalate. Tommy and Kevin stretch their bodies across a cliff face that looks completely unscalable and fall constantly. Fortunately they are secured by ropes. A body falling 3,600 feet would not be good entertainment after all. (Save that for Alex Honnold and Free Solo.) Who is Kevin Jorgeson?

1. He started climbing young

Kevin Jorgenson was born October 7, 1984 to Eric and Gaelena Jorgeson. His dad worked for the Santa Rosa Parks and Recreation Department and helped Kevin and his younger brother Matt learn to love the outdoors. It was Eric Jorgeson who encouraged Kevin to start climbing after an indoor climbing facilty opened near their home. By the time he was 16, Kevin was competing in climbing contests. Jorgeson is best known for being able to free climb---that is, climb using no equipment except for gear that protects him from falling.


A post shared by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on Feb 10, 2019 at 3:18pm PST

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2. The Dawn Wall

Jorgeson and his climbing partner Tommy Caldwell were the first two climbers to successfully complete a free climb of the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The pair completed the 3,000 foot climb between December 28, 2014 and January 15, 2015. The Dawn Wall is considered one of the most difficult climbs in the world. The pair had been planning their climb since shortly after the release of the 2009 documentary film Prog​ression. It took years for Caldwell and Jorgeson to plan their ascent. 


A post shared by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on Oct 1, 2018 at 12:47pm PDT

3. How did he prepare for the climb

The year that Jorgeson and Caldwell decided to climb the Dawn Wall, he started training with gym bouldering and a hangboarding protocol and used the intervals between hangs to do pushups. The 25-minute workout completely exhausted him, but it also built strength and endurance. That August, his friend Brad Parker died in a climbing accident at Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows. That obliterated Jorgeson's motivation to train. Eventually, Caldwell pulled him out of it by encouraging him to check out El Cap to see how the climb would go. Jorgeson soon realized the bulk of his battle with the Dawn Wall climb was going to be mental. 


A post shared by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on Sep 29, 2018 at 3:30am PDT

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4. He almost didn't finish

Kevin Jorgeson almost didn't complete the climb of the Dawn Wall. He fell 11 times during pitch 15. His fingertips were shredded. He spent eight days on that one part of the climb, resting every other day to let his fingers heal a bit. He could not bear the thought that if he didn't meet the deadline to complete pitch 15, Caldwell would be the guy who scaled the Dawn Wall and he'd be the guy who almost did. That thought was unbearable to him. Eventually the film producers put together a montage of all his falls on pitch 15 and emailed him a password protected Vimeo link. Jorgeson watched the video on his phone while dangling from the wall. That did the trick. He completed the pitch soon after, ending over a week of frustration.


A post shared by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on Mar 14, 2018 at 1:57pm PDT

5. What is free climbing?

Free climbing is using only your hands and feet to ascend a rock. The only equipment used are ropes and other gear that would stop the climber from falling too far. Basically, Jorgeson and Caldwell were hanging from the 3,600 Dawn Wall of El Capitan by their fingertips and toes. The Dawn Wall is made up of 32 "pitches" or 32 lengths of rope. Jorgenson's goal was to free climb all 32 pitches without falling and without having to return to the ground in between. If he fell during a pitch, he had to try that pitch from its beginning again. 


A post shared by Kevin Jorgeson (@kjorgeson) on Jun 4, 2017 at 1:34pm PDT

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. She is deeply devoted to her chocolate Labrador and an avid long distance runner. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.