Mental engagement of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson
Matteo Della Bordella explains the psychological aspects of climbing a big wall
07 January 2015
The media are following with trepidation Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on Dawn Wall. Do you remember the ancient times of the climbers followed with binoculars and telescope from the hostel below? In 2015 we manage to have, almost in real time, progress updates and often good photographs.
Caldwell has now surpassed the 16th pitch while Kevin, delayed by a few problems to the skin of the fingers, is on the 15th. Both are going up all the pitch in free but now, at the dawn of the 12th day in the wall, begin to make their own way. We will know the end in a few days, or perhaps weeks, because Caldwell does not exclude to get on top of his project until February.
What’s going on your mind under these circumstances? How Caldwell and Jorgeson are living these experience? What problems can play the mind on a big wall for so long? We asked to Matteo Della Bordella whom climbed with the same Tommy and having made several expeditions, including one in Yosemite on Free Rider.
"The situation that Caldwell and Jorgeson are experiencing is very special, unusual for many of us, even for me. I made several expeditions to Greenland but only I used portaledge, for the rest we have always made do with ledges that gives you place for your feet on something solid. They are not in a isolated region; in this season in Yosemite there isn’t a lot of people but you perceive civilization in the valley and it helps you psychologically.
What is certain is that living in the wall is another matter. You are immersed in climbing, you can not mentally detach from it and this is obviously the long unnerving though, especially Tommy, have such preparation and habit to spend long periods in these situations that for them can be almost normal. In America, especially in Yosemite, spend days on the wall do not say it's a habit but it is a practice that many do; we are used to the ways of short periods generally, then of course there are exceptions.
Another crucial point that you give these pitch and that you can not deviate from them, even to warm. You get up one morning and maybe you're under your pitch of the day. You try it, without alternatives. There must be a great, perfect organization. Every gesture, every method to be followed should be done well and quickly because you can not waste time and this is just a great practice course and many pitch behind. I think what they are doing has not comparisons; for difficulty, length and commitment is something really superior to all the rest of the rock."