Nalle Hukkataival and Ignacio Mulero are currently on the Dawn Wall in Yosemite and going for the third ascent! The Dawn Wall is famously the hardest multi-pitch on the “Nose” of Yosemite. A 32 pitch 3,000 foot climb on the blankest section of the most famous rock face in the world. It was the long term project of Tommy Caldwell who spent seven years working on it, eventually sending it back in 2015 with Kevin Jorgeson. It was the subject of an award-winning film “Dawn Wall” and Tommy wrote about the accomplishment in his book “The Push”.
Nalle and Ignacio are up on the Dawn Wall at the time of writing going for the full ascent. They’ve been working the route and for around three months, trying to dial in the harder pitches that the Dawn Wall is known for. Over the last couple of weeks they have been hiking up with a team to stash gear, food, and water for the attempt. Much like Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, they’ve set up a portaledge base camp midway where they can either jug up or rap down to recover.
Ignacio had been hinting at a “new project” that wasn’t as busy as the rest of the classic Yosemite routes recently, then let out a few days later that the pair were working the Dawn Wall. Translated from one of Ignacio Mulero’s latest instagram posts – “Almost a week ago I returned to the valley! Those last few days we were very busy shopping, preparing our house and bringing up all the food, water and beer 🙈🙈 to our new home 😀😀. Today it was supposed to be a good day of rest but we got hot and we had to go to do something a little long! On the wall and until new order!”
The whole thing is being documented by @westmountainmedia on instagram, and because the Dawn Wall gets perfect 3g coverage you can expect a lot of updates from the climbers themselves @nalle_hukkataival and @ignaciomulero. Both climbers are incredibly talented and Nalle is famous for proposing the hardest boulder project in the world “Burden of Dreams” at V17/9A. Kevin Jorgeson was previously a bouldering specialist before the Dawn Wall, though he has gone back to establish a new Yosemite big wall free ascent recently.
The overall grade of the Dawn Wall is VII 5.14d. The single hardest pitch is the infamous pitch 15, and neither climber has hinted on how they’ve fared on this pitch so far apart from an instagram post from Ignacio of Nalle on the pitch. Both pitch 14 and 15 are graded 5.14d (9a) but the second one is where Kevin Jorgeson nearly got shut down – taking 10 days of attempts and a few full rest days for his skin to heal. The razor sharp holds and the incredibly precise beta merit the 9a grade. Few climbers ever manage to climb a 5.14d/9a pitch, many taking huge amounts of practice on the same pitch to ever do so. Attempting two in a row 1,500 feet up is an insane feat.
Nalle has shared that he managed the 16th pitch dyno already – sharing a video you can watch below. Nalle Hukkataival being a boulderer (much like Kevin Jorgeson) really helps in the short and sharp routes where power is necessary. This means he will probably skip the extra downclimb-and-back-up-around route that Tommy Caldwell established as an alternative.
The plan seems to be much like the original ascent with ethics for the attempt following the current trend in hard big wall climbing. Basically each climber has to climb each single pitch free, lowering to the bottom of the current pitch (not all the way to the ground) if they fall. They have practiced the route and some pitches will have pre-placed protection, but they must only climb the route under their own power. This is essentially big wall redpointing.
The second ascent was done by Adam Ondra in November 2016. Ondra is famously the best sports climber in the world and is odds on to take gold in the 2020 Olympics. He established the hardest sport climb in the world with “Silence” 9c/5.15d, and got his Olympics invite a few months back all while continuing to take down multiple 9b and 9b+ routes outside. Adam was belayed and helped out for the route though his partner wasn’t there to climb, making it just three people who have ever completed the Dawn Wall at that point. Could we see a a fourth and fifth?