Duo’s Death-Defying Dawn Wall Climb Makes History, Sparks Renewed Interest in Rock Climbing

Night camping in the mountains.
Across America, camping is climbing in popularity – about three million more people went on a camping trip in 2012 than 2010 — but it seems that another outdoor activity might not be far behind.

Mere days after Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made history by becoming the first people to successfully make a free climb up the vertical granite surface of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park, there is a renewed interest in the sport throughout the country.

According to the San Francisco Gate, Caldwell and Jorgeson’s 19-day ascent has made the two men instant celebrities, their climb the new standard for rock climbers to aspire to.

“There are probably very few climbers right now that would even have a chance of doing that climb,” said Ken Yager, president of the Yosemite Climbing Association.

Caldwell and Jorgeson’s achievement of climbing one of the world’s most dangerous routes was even more significant because they scaled the Dawn Wall using just their hands and feet, attaching themselves to a rope solely for fall protection — a technique known as the free climb.

Yet some Internet commentators fear that their achievement will encourage children to try their own daredevil feats, putting themselves in danger for the sake of pushing the limit of what’s possible, the San Francisco Gate reports.

Despite this, most rock climbers maintain that their hobby is very safe. They insist that it’s not about competition or one-upping other climbers; rather, climbing is a way for people to focus on being one with nature rather than combating or conquering it, the Gate reports.

“We don’t want to die,” Caldwell, 36, said of his hobby of choice. “The equipment is very well made, very well tested, and we’re super experienced. Just because some people think what we are doing is risky doesn’t make it true.”

As of 2014, the top three states to go climbing in are Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado as these states offer a wide variety of terrain and breathtaking national and state parks for all skill levels. As long as aspiring climbers use the right equipment and leave the death-defying stunts to the professionals, there’s no reason why rock climbing can’t be a lifelong pursuit that puts the mind and body to the test.

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