Emily Harrington becomes first woman to free-climb El Capitan in a day | California

Emily Harrington has become the first woman – and the fourth climber overall – to free-climb El Capitan, the 3,000ft granite wall in Yose...


Emily Harrington has become the first woman – and the fourth climber overall – to free-climb El Capitan, the 3,000ft granite wall in Yosemite national park in a single day.

While most of the US was focused on the results of the presidential election early on Wednesday, the 34-year-old began her climb. She reached the top 21 hours, 13 minutes and 51 seconds later. Only three men have previously made the free climb in a day.

Being the first woman to achieve the feat in the male-dominated sport mattered to her, Harrington said.

“I spent a lot of years feeling like I didn’t belong, like maybe I hadn’t earned my place to be a Yosemite climber,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But throughout this experience I learned that there is no belonging or not belonging, no formula to achievement up there. I was creative and experimental and I found my own way.”

Free climbers use ropes to catch them if they fall, but not to help them ascend. El Capitan is one of the world’s most famous climbing spots, a proving ground for the best climbers for decades in a national park which many consider the birthplace of modern rock climbing.

Harrington had climbed a particular route on the wall, called Golden Gate, many times, but never in one day. Nearly a year ago, she endured a scary fall and was taken to the hospital with injuries. She vowed to try again and spent months training in her home gym in Tahoe City, California.

This time, she ascended with the assistance of her boyfriend Adrian Ballinger, a renowned Mount Everest guide, and Alex Honnold, famous for his unprecedented free solo climb of El Capitan. They were tied to the same rope.

When Harrington reached one of the route’s most difficult sections, her foot slipped and she fell sideways, hitting her head on the granite.

“Blood just started pouring down her face, dripping onto me at the belay,” Ballinger told the Chronicle. “We immediately thought her day was done. It was a wild, scary flashback to last year’s fall.”

But after taking an hour-long rest and bandaging her wound, Harrington continued.

“There was a part of me that wanted to give up and quit,” she said. “But this other part of me was like, ‘This is why you’re here. It’s supposed to be hard. You owe it to yourself to try again.’”

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Newsrust: Emily Harrington becomes first woman to free-climb El Capitan in a day | California
Emily Harrington becomes first woman to free-climb El Capitan in a day | California
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