Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world, stands at 2,722 feet tall.
Two Americans made history January 14, climbing a mountain higher than that. And they did it with their bare hands.
Tommy Caldwell, 36, and Kevin Jorgeson, 30, are the first to free-climb the Dawn Wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California, long considered the world’s most difficult rock climb.
They began the 3,000-foot vertical climb on December 27 and completed it January 14. It took them 19 days.
“Relief is a stronger emotion than pride,” Caldwell’s father, Mike Caldwell, told Sky News with a laugh after his son finished.
How did the men do it? They used ropes and safety harnesses in case of a fall, but relied entirely on the strength in their hands and feet to climb. They climbed mostly at night. They slept in tents suspended from the side of the steep mountain.
Here’s a close-up of their sleeping quarters:
They kept a positive attitude:
Even though there were many challenges along the way, as Tommy told fans on his Facebook page.
“There are downsides of trying to free climb El Cap mid winter. Falling ice, looming storms, raging ice wind, and numb toes name a few,” he posted. The men built rest days into their journey to deal with “arctic wind” and “healing skin,” they posted on social media.
But it wasn’t all bad.
“There are upsides too,” Caldwell wrote on Facebook about climbing in the winter. “We have the best chunk of rock in the world all to ourselves. The razor sharp holds feel way bigger (when we can feel them) and we are living in a refrigerator so fresh food doesn’t spoil!”
This is how they ate:
Dinner was comprised of either pasta with kale, bell pepper and sausage, or Indian food, posted Jorgeson on Twitter.
Why do it? Jorgeson posted this:
Folks gathered at the bottom of the mountain in anticipation of the climber’s big finish.
And here are the climbers’ proud moms — Gaelena Jorgensen, in red, and Terry Caldwell, to the right in blue, reacting after their sons completed the climb.
We have a proud president too. President Obama congratulated the pair on Twitter: