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Emily Harrington Becomes First Woman To Climb 3,000 Foot El Capitan in Yosemite in 24 Hours Instagram via @jonglassberg
Instagram via @jonglassberg

It’s a great time for women right now, as many are paving their way into the history books by becoming the first women to do things that only men have seemingly achieved throughout the years. On the list of amazing women acting as role models for young girls to dare to dream bigger, Kamala Harris has just become the first female Vice President. And now rock climber Emily Harrington makes the list, as she is the first woman to complete a free-climb of a 3,000-foot monolith in Yosemite National Park, in 24 hours.

Emily Harrington Becomes First Woman to Free-Climb El Capitan via Golden Gate Route in a Single Day

Harrington, from Tahoe City, California, had already attempted to free climb El Cap three times before, but that wasn’t going to stop the 34-year-old from reach her goal. She already has scaled Mount Everest, Mont Blanc, and Ama Dablam under her belt, and defied the meanings of impossible dreams and realistic objectives with no hesitation. And with that, she became the fourth person to free climb El Capitan.

Starting at 1:30 am, Harrington completed the climb in 21 hours, 13 minutes, and 51 seconds. Alex Honnold, the main character of the documentary “Free Solo,” who has completed a free-solo climb of El Capitan without ropes, was Harrington’s belay for the first two-thirds of her climb. For the last third, her boyfriend Adrian Ballinger followed her up the final lip of the climb.

All was going well until Harrington approached a difficult pitch around noon. With her fingers drenched in sweat, she slipped, causing her to rest for about half an hour. As she attempted the pitch once more, she slipped again, but this time, she smacked her head against the rock wall.

Blood started spewing out, but as resilient as Harrington is, she simply patched it up, checked her vitals and kept going. Soon enough, Harrington reached the top of El Capitan, achieving a life goal of hers that she herself said she didn’t think she was going to attain.

She explained her experience in conquering Yosemite’s El Capitan in an Instagram post, thanking Honnold, Ballinger, and Jon Glassberg as well, who helped cover the story of her free-climbing the large piece of stone. She also mentioned how she overcame a scary flashback of last year’s fall while climbing the monolith, proving that with the right focus, discipline, training, and belief, any Yosemite climber can achieve what she can, man or woman.

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Golden Gate ✨ Free 💫 In A Day ⚡️ 📸 @jonglassberg / @jess_talley / @louderthan11 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. 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. On Nov 4 I started climbing with @alexhonnold at 1:34am, caught between my own internal drama of achieving a life goal and the more prevalent one of the elections – both unfolding in parallel ways in my brain. I knew I was in for a big day – but that’s exactly why I was there. I wanted to find my limit and exist in it and fight beyond it. A nasty slip on the 13a Golden Desert pitch almost took my resolve – a deep gash on my forehead left me bloody and defeated. I pulled on again, part of me not really wanting to stay on the wall, the other part gathering courage and flow. I kept thinking “why am I still hanging on?” The next pitch was the A5 traverse, where I failed last year. This time it was not my limit. I fought hard but with flawless movements in the dark. I cried at the belay – it could happen this time….The final 5 pitches felt scary in my current state but I pulled over the final lip at 10:30pm in disbelief. There’s a lot more to say but mostly I wanted to express my gratitude for the love and support from friends, family, and strangers. I feel the love so intensely right now. Thank you all 🙏🏻 Massive thanks to @alexhonnold for climbing with me over these years, you’ve inspired me to think bigger and believe in myself in ways you cannot imagine. To @jonglassberg for your friendship, creativity, and ability to capture a story while at the same time keeping it light and always fun. And finally to my best friend, partner, lover, fave human of all time @adrianballinger – your support and love for me through the darkness and the light has never wavered. I love you endlessly ❤️❤️❤️ More to come!!! @thenorthface / @kodiakcakes / @petzl_official / @lasportivana

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A post shared by ᴇᴍɪʟʏ ʜᴀʀʀɪɴɢᴛᴏɴ (@emilyaharrington) on

I do enjoy rock climbing, in the little experience that I’ve had with it. Maybe I won’t necessarily become a professional free climber or an Everest guide anytime soon, but in striving to become a better version of myself, Harrington is an inspiration to me personally as a woman with passions.

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Lauren Pineda is a writer with a background in music journalism and pop culture. Her best writing comes from her passion for storytelling and connecting her audience. She lives and breathes any live music show or art event and enjoys listening to peoples’ stories.
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