The Dawn Wall Gear Guide.

The Dawn Wall Goes Free

2 World-Class Climbers - 6 Years in the Making - 19 Days to the Top - And the Gear That Got Them There!

Most of the world knows Kevin Jorgeson as one-half of the dynamic Dawn Wall duo (the other, of course, being Tommy Caldwell of the Nine Fingers) who historically freed Yosemite's hardest climb. But from where, exactly, did this now-legendary climber emerge?

Before the eight-foot dyno and those nail-biting 19 days, "KJ" was a champion youth competition climber from Santa Rosa, California. As is the story of most of these fantastic plastic pullers, Kevin eventually ventured outside onto real rock, and quickly made his mark as a fearless boulderer with a dozen double-digit first ascents to his name. His signature? Climbing traditionally roped routes as highball boulder problems, including the FA of the 45' Ambrosia (V12/5.14) in Bishop that kicked off the Buttermilks' highball revolution.

In 2010, Kevin teamed up with Alex Honnold and Matt Segal to tackle some of the roughest rock in the world: English gritstone. Just watch his ascent of The Groove (E11), and you'll get an idea of the superhuman grip strength and uncanny balance Jorgeson possesses, even on the most miniscule of pebble holds.

It's no surprise, then, that Tommy found in Kevin his ideal match for the Dawn Wall's intimidating blankness. When Jorgeson joined Caldwell's ever-growing team of experienced climbers looking to free the Dawn Wall, Tommy had already been chipping away at the project for five years. Plateaus suddenly started giving way, the pair officially teamed up, and the rest is history. From December 27, 2014, to January 14, 2015, Kevin and Tommy battled their way through 19 pitches ranging from 5.12b-5.14d—including pitch 16's infamous dyno—to claim the historic first free ascent of the Dawn Wall.

We had a chance to sit down with Kevin at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and find out what was in his haul bag as he pushed his way through those grueling pitches. While we can't guarantee these will turn you into a big-wall mountain smasher, they're a great start!

The Dawnwall kit:

  • Jetboil Flash Java Kit

    My gear kit? Just put ibuprofen and coffee, and that's the end of the article.

  • Superglue

    The brush-on kind is a must for instant hand repair on the wall.

  • Ibuprofen

    800mg a day, I swear to God—maybe even more—that got me through.

  • Aussie Climbing Tape

    Beth Rodden gave me this tan-colored Australian climbing tape that was super clutch. I couldn't have done the route without it.

  • Climb On! Bar - 1 oz and 0.5 oz Mini Bar

    This plus Neosporin kept my hands together.

  • adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift Flex Pant - Men's

    I wore these almost every day on the wall.

  • adidas Outdoor Terrex Stockhorn Fleece Jacket - Men's

    All 19 days, I had this on basically the entire time. Comfortable and easy to climb in.

  • adidas Outdoor Terrex Korum Hoodie

    This was my essential down piece. Lightweight and moves well." Note: this is the jacket Kevin's wearing in the now-famous summit photo. While it's an older jacket that's currently not available, it'll be coming back soon! Stay tuned.

"The Essentials – Coffee, superglue, ibuprofen, and that climbing tape. If any one of these things had been missing, I wouldn't have made it."

- Kevin Jorgeson

In a Salt Lake City interview with Gear Coop

More of the kit:

The Gear - "Basically everything Black Diamond makes, we had it on the wall. We didn't bring anything extra, really. Everything did its job. You have to bring everything that's proven to be bombproof--and all of it was great."


More of Kevin's Pack:

photo rights by adidas Outdoor.


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