These two crazy men are climbing the world's toughest rockface

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Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson are applying torn fingertips to granite as they attempt one of the greatest, and highest, challenges on Earth.

El Capitan, a 900-metre rockface, stands imposingly in the Yosemite national park. First conquered 60 years ago, a number of routes have been set along its flanks since.

One route, however, has remained elusive to even the hardiest of free-climbers - the Dawn Wall boasts a surface as smooth as polished plaster. Until now, perhaps...

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This monolith, however you climb it, is three times taller than The Shard, and has steeper sides.

"It's the hardest rock climb in the world," says Leo Houlding, who in 2012 nearly perished before becoming the first British climber to complete a free ascent of "El Cap".

You break a cliff like this into pitches, which are basically rope lengths. This is 30 climbs, one on top of the other. Ten of them are world-class standard and two are as hard as anything anywhere.

  • Leo Houlding

Free climbing means no help, and no feet on the ground. Everything is hauled between pitches, including hanging tents (portaledges) for shelter.

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Eating and resting like bats, Caldwell and Jorgeson have lived like this since 27 December, inching upwards with the strength of toes, fingertips and collective will.

Their bravery must be admired, but one question with this type of immensely painstaking challenge always persists: Why?

[Rockclimbers] create rules and challenges, but that is the point. You set a challenge and you try to achieve it. If they do this it will be the proudest moment of their lives.

  • Leo Houlding

The pair hope to complete the climb of their lives on Friday, after two weeks of suspense. Let's just hope they don't look down...

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