Kevin Jorgeson points to the video on his computer screen. In it, he's on the face of El Capitan in Yosemite, the valley 300 feet below. His right foot is moving to a foothold.
"See it?" said Kevin Jorgeson of the foothold.
"That's why you really have to concentrate," the 2003 graduate of Santa Rosa's Maria Carrillo High School said in one of the great understatements. "That foothold is not unique. These footholds are all over El Cap. No bigger than a dime. You step on it with your big toe."
Only your big toe?
ONLY a big toe," said Jorgeson, as if it would be madness to consider otherwise.
Sometime this fall, Jorgeson and buddy Tommy Caldwell from Colorado will attempt the first free climb of Dawn Wall, a 3,000-foot ascent of El Capitan judged to be the most dangerous rock climb in the world because of the steepness and smoothness of the granite.
Free climbers have a safety rope but do not use pulleys or devices to stand on as they ascend, relying on their hands and feet.
It has taken Jorgeson and Caldwell two years to map the route, working sections or "pitches" at a time. They expect they will spend two to three weeks on the face before reaching the top.
The May issue of National Geographic magazine features Jorgeson, Caldwell and other climbers on El Cap. The pictures are breathtaking.
So is Jorgeson's account of his evolution into a professional climber. It began when he was 2. Jorgeson's dad, Eric, was helping his wife's aunt build a house in Santa Rosa. A ladder from ground-level to the rooftop gave Eric a nice view of the city, and he turned around and saw his 2-year-old son next to him.
"I had climbed up the ladder," Jorgeson said.
Which, of course, set his father to yelling, "Honeeeeeeeey! I thought you were watching Kevin!"
They all laugh about it now.
Jorgeson said that as a teenager he climbed about a dozen structures in downtown Santa Rosa, including the AT&T building on Third Street. He did it late at night, shielded by darkness and the tendency for police to look for lawbreakers on the ground, not above it.
"I would climb the outside of elevators, a lot of parking garages," said Jorgeson, who is 5-foot-9, 145 pounds.
His transition to world-class rock jock can be traced to the start of his love affair with Yosemite, the Mecca of his trade. At the age of 16, he began going at least once a year, and he considers it his home base.
Jorgeson's skills and reputation grew quickly, as did his commitment. He found the time to earn an associate's degree in kinesiology from Santa Rosa Junior College, but his singular pursuit of the world's toughest rock faces dominates much of his life.
The Sebastopol resident is 26, single and ekes out a modest living as a professional.
"You are not going to make $100,000 as a climber, or even $50,000," he said.
His climbing partner, Caldwell, often sleeps in his van before attacking Yosemite's rocks.
Conventional sports never interested him because they didn't satisfy his independent nature. Or, as he liked to say, "Someone would complain in basketball that they weren't getting the ball passed to them enough." Waaaa. Rock climbers don't whine. Rock climbers are action figures. Rock climbers take peace of mind to new heights, like 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley.
Upcoming meeting to explore 4G wireless technology
Santa Rosa and Verizon are holding a series of meetings in coming weeks to allay concerns about its network of 4G “small cell” wireless antenna equipment being installed on utility poles around the city.
The four joint Verizon/city meetings will take place:
— Monday, Feb. 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 637 First St.
— Saturday, March 3, from 10 a.m. to noon at Veteran’s Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.
— Thursday, March 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.
— Saturday, March 10, from 10 a.m. to noon, at Veteran’s Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.
In addition the City Council is planning to hold a study session on the issue Tuesday, March 6, beginning at 3 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Santa Rosa Ave.