We’ve all heard wise quotes and inspirational stories that aim to teach us about the power of persistence; like how if J.K. Rowling hadn’t pressed on after being turned down by so many publishers the world would have never met Harry Potter.
Well what about the two men who, after five years of training and despite a handful of failed attempts, recently became the first to free-climb Dawn Wall—part of the vertical rock formation known as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, and what many consider the world’s most difficult rock climb?
Details from the story of their perilous ascent at least put it in the running as one of the most inspiring stories of all time.
According to the Associated Press it took Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson 19 days to complete the climb, only using ropes and safety harnesses to catch themselves in case of a fall. The rest of the work was done entirely on their own, “wedging their fingers and feet into tiny crevices or gripping sharp, thin projections of rock.”
Not only did the two triumph over failed attempts they had made in the past (one of which resulted in a broken ankle for Jorgeson), but during this most recent effort they dealt with quite a few setbacks, too. The AP reports that they had to cope with painful cuts on their fingertips, which they used tape and superglue to cover up.
“They also endured physical punishment whenever their grip slipped, pitching them into long, swinging falls that left them bouncing off the rock face,” AP reporters Kristin J. Bender and Scott Smith wrote. “The tumbles, which they called 'taking a whipper,' ended with startling jolts from their safety ropes."
During the climb the two men sent updates about their progress through social media.
At one point Jorgeson struggled to overcome a lower section of the climb that he finally surpassed after 11 attempts over the course of seven days, the AP says.
At that point he wrote online, "As disappointing as this is, I'm learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I'm not giving up. I will rest. I will try again. I will succeed."
Caldwell reached the top first and Jorgeson followed closely behind.
President Obama and The White House congratulated the two men “for conquering El Capitan” on social media, “You remind us that anything is possible,” the update read with an attached photo of the President next to a painting of El Capitan.