El Capitan. To-tock-ah-noo-lah. The Chief. El Cap. Whatever you prefer to call it, it’s 3,000 vertical feet of stone monolith — God’s big toe carved out of granite and placed in Yosemite National Park to taunt, terrify and thrill free climbers and BASE jumpers alike.

Like Everest, it calls to the adventurer inside many of us, beckoning with the promise of high achievement and unparalleled difficulty.

Over the past two-and-a-half weeks, world-class free climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson set out to answer that call in a way that had never been successfully done before… an effort, “not to conquer,” as Caldwell put it, but “to realize a dream.”

They attempted to climb a route known as the Dawn Wall — the monolith’s “steepest, tallest, blankest section” — without falling or returning to the ground at all. Ropes were used only to stop a potential fall. It took, if you’ll pardon a bit of an outburst, nineteen freaking days of climbing. They climbed the wall, slept on the wall, sipped whisky on the wall — in short, they lived on the wall.

In the end, Caldwell and Jorgenson achieved their dream… a dream seven attempts in the making. They made it to the top where friends, family, and reporters stood waiting, toasting them with champagne before either even made it all the way up.

And while we don’t have any champagne handy, in honor of this incredible achievement of both the human spirit and the human body, we’ve compiled a collection of images of El Capitan itself.

We hope these photos will put the jaw-dropping climb into a tiny bit perspective:

You can dive into this incredible story in much more depth over at National Geographic, where you’ll also find photographer and Nikon Ambassador Corey Rich‘s photos documenting the two-and-a-half-week-long climb.

And if you’d like to see more images of The Chief, click here to browse all the most popular photos of the granite behemoth ever uploaded to 500px.