Free climbers first to summit El Capitan via Dawn Wall

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(CNN) — Two professional free climbers are the first to reach the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park via the notoriously difficult Dawn Wall, more than a half-mile high.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson — using only their hands and feet, with ropes designed only to catch them when they fall — reached the summit Wednesday.

Caldwell and Jorgeson have been scaling the 3,000-foot rock formation since beginning their ascent December 27.

There are many routes up El Capitan, but only a handful have been attempted by climbers trying to free climb. And none have successfully conquered El Capitan’s Dawn Wall.

Perhaps no route is more challenging than the Dawn Wall, which offers few footholds and may be the most difficult climb in the world.

For Caldwell, it’s a dream that has been in the making for several years. An accomplished climber, Caldwell already completed five other routes on El Capitan, according to his bio. But family members say the Dawn Wall route is one that has consumed him.

“He was looking for more of a challenge” said Caldwell’s father, Mike. “He started going up and repelling down and trying to see if he could see holds that could turn into a climb. Over a two-year period, he probably spent 25-30 days on the wall just looking it over.”

Jorgeson, who started climbing competitively as a teenager, didn’t know Caldwell until he decided to join him on the climb.

“Kevin called Tommy offering to help with the climb and that’s how they met,” Mike Caldwell said.

The team attempted an earlier push on the project several years ago, but were shut down due to weather, according to Caldwell’s Facebook page.

The journey up the Dawn Wall was documented on Caldwell and Jorgeson’s Instagram accounts, Caldwell and Jorgeson’s Facebook accounts and YouTube.