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Monday, 9 November 2020

Rock star! Climber Emily Harrington, 34, becomes first woman to free-climb Yosemite National Park's 3,000-foot El Capitan in a single day

 Rock climber Emily Harrington has become the first woman, and fourth person, to free-climb the Golden Gate route on Yosemite National Park's 3,000-foot El Capitan summit in a single day.

While most of the country was focused on the results of the presidential election, the 34-year-old began to scale the granite wall on Wednesday morning at 1.34am. 

'I never believed I could actually free climb El Cap in a day when I first set the goal for myself. It didn’t seem like a realistic objective for me,' Harrington wrote in an Instagram post. 


'I didn’t have the skills, fitness, or risk profile to move so quickly over such a large piece of stone. But I chose it exactly for that reason. Impossible dreams challenge us to rise above who we are now to see if we can become better versions of ourselves.'

Rock climber Emily Harrington (pictured during the climb on Wednesday) has become the first woman, and fourth person, to free-climb the Golden Gate route on Yosemite National Park's 3,000-foot granite wall in a single day

Rock climber Emily Harrington (pictured during the climb on Wednesday) has become the first woman, and fourth person, to free-climb the Golden Gate route on Yosemite National Park's 3,000-foot granite wall in a single day

While most of the country was focused on the results of the presidential election, the 34-year-old (pictured) began to scale El Capitan Wednesday morning at 1.34am

While most of the country was focused on the results of the presidential election, the 34-year-old (pictured) began to scale El Capitan Wednesday morning at 1.34am

Harrington reached the top 21 hours, 13 minutes and 51 seconds later. Only three people - all men - have made the free climb on that route in a day

Harrington reached the top 21 hours, 13 minutes and 51 seconds later. Only three people - all men - have made the free climb on that route in a day

Harrington reached the top 21 hours, 13 minutes and 51 seconds later. Only three people - all men - have made the free climb on that route in a day. 

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. It has been a proving ground for the best climbers for decades in the 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 a single day, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 


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 into the granite wall.

Harrington had climbed a particular route on the wall, called Golden Gate, many times, but never in a single day. Harrington is seen climbing El Capitan on Wednesday

Harrington had climbed a particular route on the wall, called Golden Gate, many times, but never in a single day. Harrington is seen climbing El Capitan on Wednesday

When Harrington reached one of the route's most difficult sections, her foot slipped and she fell sideways, hitting her head into the granite wall

When Harrington reached one of the route's most difficult sections, her foot slipped and she fell sideways, hitting her head into the granite wall

Being the first woman to achieve the feat in the male-dominated sport mattered to her, she 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,' Harrington (pictured after the climb)

Being the first woman to achieve the feat in the male-dominated sport mattered to her, she 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,' Harrington (pictured after the climb)

El Capitan (pictured behind Harrington) is one of the world's most famous climbing spots. It has been a proving ground for the best climbers for decades in the national park, which many consider the birthplace of modern rock climbing

El Capitan (pictured behind Harrington) is one of the world's most famous climbing spots. It has been a proving ground for the best climbers for decades in the national park, which many consider the birthplace of modern rock climbing

'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.'

After completing the feat, Harrington shared images on her Instagram, including one that showed her head bloody from the fall. 

Other images showed her climbing El Capitan while Harrington was also seen climbing in the dark. 

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

'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.'

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