In January, 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3,000 foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, California.
The pair lived on the sheer vertical cliff for weeks, igniting a frenzy of global media attention.
But for Tommy Caldwell, The Dawn Wall was much more than just a climb. It was the culmination of a lifetime defined by overcoming obstacles. At the age of 22, the climbing prodigy was taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after, he lost his index finger in an accident, but resolved to come back stronger. When his marriage fell apart, he escaped the pain by fixating on the extraordinary goal of free climbing The Dawn Wall.
Blurring the line between dedication and obsession, Caldwell and his partner Jorgeson spend six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route. On the final attempt, with the world watching, Caldwell is faced with a moment of truth. Should he abandon his partner to fulfill his ultimate dream, or risk his own success for the sake of their friendship?
Tommy Caldwell started climbing soon after he learned to walk. Growing up with a mountain guide father, his talent and passion led him as a teenager to the top of climbing competitions and cutting-edge outdoor routes.
In 2000, on a climbing expedition in Kyrgyzstan, Tommy and his climbing partners were captured and held hostage by armed rebels. Miraculously, after six days of captivity, the group managed to free themselves. Upon returning to the United States and trying to piece together his life, Tommy severed his index finger in a home remodeling accident.
Managing to overcome the obstacles life was throwing at him, Tommy came back stronger and raised his already elite skill level and the sport’s standards. His subsequent free climbing accomplishments in Yosemite National Park remain unmatched and made Tommy one of the best rock climbers in the world, a perfect contender to be the first person to free climb The Dawn Wall.
Like most kids, Kevin grew up climbing ladders, trees and fences, until a visit to his local climbing gym changed his life forever. Kevin steadily improved his climbing and started winning youth national championships. Once he discovered bouldering, he quickly made a name for himself as one of the sport’s best.
At his home stomping grounds in the California’s Buttermilks, Kevin made the first ascent of the terrifying Ambrosia, a 15-meter high boulder from which a fall near the top would be catastrophic. While searching to expand into other climbing disciplines, Kevin learned about Tommy Caldwell’s initial forays on the Dawn Wall. Under the mentorship of Tommy, Kevin proved a quick study as he transformed himself into a big wall climber capable of the completing the most continuously difficult route in the world.