(CNN) — Two professional free climbers are the first to reach the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park via the notoriously difficult Dawn Wall, more than a half-mile high.
Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson — using only their hands and feet, with ropes designed only to catch them when they fall — reached the summit Wednesday.
“It’s an amazing feeling to accomplish something you have devoted your life to for years,” Jorgeson said. “Free climbing the Dawn Wall had been considered impossible. Tommy dreamed it could be done, and I could not be more honored to have been his partner on this journey. ”
Caldwell, 36, and Jorgeson, 30, have been scaling the 3,000-foot rock formation since December 27.
In another inspiring battle late into the night Kevin managed to send pitches 18, 19, and 20. Clouds swirled all around It was truly a surreal scene. Tomorrow we leave our bacecamp and blast towards the top. With some luck we will be standing on top in a couple days. I an excited to walk on flat ground again although I am sure I will truly miss this experience. Great photo of what has been out home for the past 17 nights @coreyrichproductions @bigupclimbing.
There are many routes up El Capitan, but only a handful have been attempted by climbers trying to free climb. And none have successfully conquered El Capitan’s Dawn Wall.
Perhaps no route is more challenging than the wall, which offers few footholds and may be the most difficult climb in the world.
“So proud of @TommyCaldwell1 and @KJorgeson for conquering El Capitan. You remind us that anything is possible. -bo,” President Barack Obama tweeted.
For Caldwell, it’s a dream that has been in the making for several years. An accomplished climber, Caldwell already completed five other routes on El Capitan, according to his bio. But family members say the Dawn Wall route is one that has consumed him.
“He was looking for more of a challenge” said Caldwell’s father, Mike. “He started going up and rapelling down and trying to see if he could see holds that could turn into a climb. Over a two-year period, he probably spent 25-30 days on the wall just looking it over.”
Tonight, I climbed the hardest pitch of my life and the hardest pitch on the Dawn Wall: Pitch 14. It was by far the most memorable and surreal experiences I've ever had. @tommycaldwell followed suit and sent as well! We have a lot of hard climbing ahead, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't relieved to have this pitch behind us. Photo by @jeffjohnson_beyondandback. @adidasoutdoor #DawnWall
Jorgeson, who started climbing competitively as a teenager, didn’t know Caldwell until he decided to join him on the climb.
“Kevin called Tommy offering to help with the climb and that’s how they met,” Mike Caldwell said.
The team attempted an earlier push on the project several years ago, but were shut down due to weather, according to Caldwell’s Facebook page.
The duo chose winter despite cold temperatures, because they wouldn’t have to worry about sweaty hands or the increase in people who come out during the summer months.
The journey up the Dawn Wall was documented on Caldwell and Jorgeson’s Instagram accounts, Caldwell and Jorgeson’s Facebook accounts and YouTube.