The Dawn Wall Goes Free…Again!

Adam Ondra successfully completed the last pitches of the Dawn Wall on November 21, 2016 in Yosemite, Calif. Touted as the most difficult big wall climb, many once doubted it would ever be climbed, much less see a second ascent.

The Dawn Wall went free last year for the first time. The spectacle headlined national news broadcasts, and climbing and outdoor periodicals across the world.

It earned Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson acclaim as ‘National Geographic Adventurers of the Year’ for the first ascent.


Ondra completed the climb on his first trip to Yosemite in just eight days, after being in the valley since only October 15, 2016.

Of course, the first and second ascents are very big differences. Major route-finding difficulties and mental hurdles to battle were a large part of what gave Caldwell and Jorgeson such a hard time.

Ondra still had to deal with this, although to a much lesser extent. With all said, however, to accomplish the feat in as short of a time as this is a shock to climbers everywhere.

Big Wall Send

For clarification, Ondra did not start at the bottom, and climb until the top without stopping, resting, and falling. Big wall climbing ascents exist in an area where successfully sending each pitch in succession is necessary for a completion.

The climbers are able to rest at night and before hard sections. Ascents can be made over weeks with the potential to be labeled a “send.”

Ondra made multiple tries at the Dawn Wall before finally getting this complete send.

The Climb

Ondra posted on social media throughout his experience and described the climb as emotional and nearly impossible. All along the wall, these are excerpts from what Ondra faced on different pitches of the climb.


“I hate pitch 10 (5.14a, but I would almost say 5.14b). It is all laybacking–smearing your feet against nothing (sometimes wet nothing)–and the harder you try, the harder it gets.”

“I kept going nevertheless and somehow made it through the crux, where I had to improvise with my beta, as I was unable to reach with my foot all the way due to my sliding fingers from the razorblades. Getting to the anchor was emotional of course.”

Big Wall Congratulations

With a climb that initially broke headlines globally, Ondra’s feat is the most surprising climbing accomplishment of the year. For pushing the boundaries in the climbing worlds of bouldering, sport climbing, and now big wall climbing, congratulations go out to Adam Ondra.

Yes!!!! . @adam.ondra @blackdiamond #dawnwall #elcapitan #yosemite #liveclimbrepeat #blackdiamond

A photo posted by Pavel Blažek (@pavelblazek) on

Nate Mitka

Midwest born, Nate Mitka is based in the GearJunkie Denver office. He is an advocate of all outdoor activities and has developed some habits, like running without headphones, eating raw vegetables, and fixing the chain on his ratty old bike.