Emily Harrington, at age 34, became the fourth person and first woman, to summit El Capitan by “free climbing” on November 4, 2020.
Making this her fourth attempt to scale El Capitan, Emily finished her 21 hour, 13 minute, and 51-second climb up El Capitan, Yosemite National Park’s tallest mountain, using the Golden Gate passage.
Free climbing is a sport in which the climber uses only his or her feet and hands to ascend a flat-faced surface, which can include mountains, indoor rock climbing arenas, and more, states EvoRock.
About halfway through the climb, Harrington’s, “fingers were so slick with sweat that she slipped off…so she rested for 30 minutes and tried again. She slipped off again, this time smacking her head against the wall as she swung on the protection rope,” according to the New York Times. Because of her second fall, Harrington reported she had scraped her head badly on the rope and wall. Undaunted, she swung back onto the wall and kept climbing.
A little more than nine hours later, Harrington pulled herself up to the last lip of the mountain where her boyfriend, Adrian Ballinger, awaited. She was then transported to the hospital to assess her cuts and bruises.
Concluding her interview with CNN, Emily Harrington said, “We should be less afraid to be afraid. It’s a very valid emotion and it’s something we shouldn’t shy away from. In a lot of ways, we can use it as fuel and as strength.”