Inside Kevin Jorgeson’s Historic First Free Ascent on Higher Cathedral Spire

Two and a half years, a number of climbing companions, and chossy rock didn’t cease the co-star in Dawn Wall from finishing his historic climb. 

When Tom Frost and Royal Robbins — legendary climbers from Yosemite’s Golden Age — made the primary ascent of the Northwest Face of Higher Cathedral Spire again within the early 1960s, they regarded it as troublesome and committing because the Northwest Face of Half Dome. Help climbed over two days, the duo positioned almost 200 pitons and 6 safety bolts. (Help climbing means utilizing gear positioned within the rock for upward progress.) Within the many years since, the route had fallen into obscurity, dwarfed by El Capitan throughout the Valley flooring. That was till Kevin Jorgeson made it his free climbing mission.

After finishing the Dawn Wall with Tommy Caldwell in winter 2015, thought-about by many as probably the most troublesome free climb on the earth at 5.14d and 3,000 ft, Jorgeson started focusing on lesser-known formations within the park, routes wealthy with historical past. In 2017 he and Ben Rueck free climbed Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Tom Frost’s West Face of Sentinel Rock. After that, Jorgeson turned his consideration to Higher Cathedral Spire. For the subsequent two and a half years he labored on the climb, looking for an all-free passage. He began the mission with aid-climbing specialist Ryan Sheridan, then recruited skilled free climber Ben Rueck, who almost took the path to the highest however tweaked his shoulder. With Rueck out, Sheridan was again in, and he supported Jorgeson on his in-a-day free ascent of the 1,200-foot 5.13 they known as Blue Collar.

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Kevin Jorgeson on the primary free ascent of Blue Collar on Yosemite’s Excessive Cathedral Spire. Ryan Sheridan

“When I got on board,” Rueck stated from a climbing journey in Greece, “Kevin was stuck on the 13d pitch [crux]. I ended up figuring out small pieces of beta and I got it first, and Kevin got it a few days later. Then we checked out the next crux pitch higher up. I got hurt on pitch 7 and everything went wonky from there.”

Sheridan adopted the climb through the use of dealt with ascenders that he slid up the rope. He belayed a Jorgeson and carried meals, water and jackets.

“It’s not innovative [just like the Dawn Wall],” Jorgeson says, including, “it’s about the process.”

From ‘Blue Collar,’ the recent film on Kevin Jorgeson and Ryan Sheridan’s ascent on Excessive Cathedral Spire, by Digital Stoke Media. YouTube

Busy with life as a husband, father and founding father of the nonprofit 1Climb, Jorgeson might solely make it to Higher Spire throughout temporary time home windows. Along with his nonprofit, he’s constructing a 23,000-square-foot climbing health club in his hometown of Santa Rosa, Calif.

At present with the Spire now behind him, he’s focusing on doing quick, highly effective climbs on the California coast and rising 1Climb that builds climbing walls close to Boys and Girls Clubs of America and goals to deliver the game to 100,000 youngsters.

“This is where I put my energy,” he says. “We have 14 projects funded and in various stages of being installed. I was just in Denver on Tuesday (December 17) for a grand opening of a 1Climb there.”

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