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Climbers mark day 12 on El Capitan's Dawn Wall

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are seeking to be the first to free climb El Capitan's Dawn Wall using ropes only for safety.

By Ben Hooper
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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A pair of climbers marking their 12th day Wednesday on El Capitan's Dawn Wall in Yosemite National Park said they are near to making free climbing history.

Tommy Caldwell, 36, and Kevin Jorgeson, 30, said they were about 1,500 feet away from the top of the Dawn Wall, the largest piece of granite in the world, Tuesday and they hoped to reach the top as soon as this weekend.

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The accomplishment would make them the first to free climb the wall while only using their ropes for safety when they fall.

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The men, who are making their third attempt at scaling the Dawn Wall, said they chose to start their climb Dec. 27 because the winter weather would cause their hands to sweat less and give their rubber shoes more friction.

"Some stages are harder that you can actually climb at the time, so you really have to work it out," Jorgeson told NPR. "We've been working on each of these stages and climbing 'pitches' ... broken up by rope lengths. Our ropes are about 200 feet long so the pitches are obviously 200 feet long or less."

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Jorgeson told CNN the hardest section of wall, the 14th pitch, is already beneath them.

"It kind of gives me fits because you'll feel totally fine, then your foot will unexpectedly pop off," he said.

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