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Emily Harrington First Woman to Free El Cap IAD

Matthew Bertolatus · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 60

NYT seems to have gotten the facts correct:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/sports/emily-harrington-free-climb-yosemite.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

Cherokee Nunes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 0

Just remember they report all the other news with the same rigid fact checking and attention to detail.

JoshuaTreeRunner _ · · Rancho Cucamonga, CA · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 195
Andrew Bowman wrote:

If it occurred before I was born, did it actually happen?

So true, haha! I suppose this is sign of the future to come: Much new media is so excited to claim a “first” that they don’t do their research.

I suppose pretty soon we will start hearing stories again about “first woman to climb K2”,  “first person to climb Everest without oxygen”, etc...

All of this is a testament to how truly great Lynn Hill’s accomplishment was and how much ahead of her time she was as a climber. I feel honored to have met her one time in the Creek.

Kuddos to her. I hope we all spend a little more time learning about climbing history and the shoulders that we all stand on.

Andy F · · Emeryville, CA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

These errors are frustrating, but climber's could be better better educators here.  I sympathize a bit with the journalists navigating multiple distinctions here (free vs. solo vs speed vs AID, IAD vs multi-day, female vs any gender, route choice up El Cap).  The Rock and Ice page doesn't make it especially easier to navigate these distinctions, but using it, it seems like these are the candidates for El-Cap, Free, IAD, and I'm sure I still got it wrong:

1994 - Lynn Hill - The Nose

2002 - Tommy Caldwell - Salathe

2016 - Pete Whittaker, Freerider (free, rope, solo)

2020 - Emily Harrington, Golden Gate Wall


Maybe someone can answer this here, but a more interesting aspect to me is that, for such a small list, each climber took different routes.  I think this touches on something really nice ... even for something so difficult, there is not one-best path.  If anything, it would be interesting for articles to focus on that over the typical drama of blood and chalk.

Andy F · · Emeryville, CA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

This page on free-diving is pretty good:  

Pros:

  • Light 'education' at the top
  • Calls out main categories with record holders  
  • Defines most terms as the page goes along

Cons:

  • Not comprehensive in defining terms -- for example, had to google CNF (no fins) - to find the definition
  • Doesn't show a lineage of records

Anywho ... it wouldn't hurt for professional climbers who have already put in the work, to build the dang Wikipedia table that establishes their category and record, rather than have their accomplishments muddied up in corrections after the news cycle has past.

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Andy F wrote:

These errors are frustrating, but climber's could be better better educators here.  I sympathize a bit with the journalists navigating multiple distinctions here (free vs. solo vs speed vs AID, IAD vs multi-day, female vs any gender, route choice up El Cap).  The Rock and Ice page doesn't make it especially easier to navigate these distinctions, but using it, it seems like these are the candidates for El-Cap, Free, IAD, and I'm sure I still got it wrong:


Maybe someone can answer this here, but a more interesting aspect to me is that, for such a small list, each climber took different routes.  I think this touches on something really nice ... even for something so difficult, there is not one-best path.  If anything, it would be interesting for articles to focus on that over the typical drama of blood and chalk.

I don’t have the comprehensive knowledge to know if anyone else might’ve been missed, but Honnold is a glaring omission?

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

If a publication is using wikipedia to fact check they are not credible journalists. 

Jared Willis · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2019 · Points: 0
Andrew Bowman wrote:

If it occurred before I was born, did it actually happen?

I read this "article" once about how Bruce Springsteen shouldn't write songs about being poor while having hope because he is rich. Its like, did the world really exist before 2007??

John RB · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 144
Andy F wrote:

These errors are frustrating, but climber's could be better better educators here.  I sympathize a bit with the journalists navigating multiple distinctions here (free vs. solo vs speed vs AID, IAD vs multi-day, female vs any gender, route choice up El Cap).  The Rock and Ice page doesn't make it especially easier to navigate these distinctions, but using it, it seems like these are the candidates for El-Cap, Free, IAD, and I'm sure I still got it wrong:

1994 - Lynn Hill - The Nose

2002 - Tommy Caldwell - Salathe

2016 - Pete Whittaker, Freerider (free, rope, solo)

2020 - Emily Harrington, Golden Gate Wall


Maybe someone can answer this here, but a more interesting aspect to me is that, for such a small list, each climber took different routes.  I think this touches on something really nice ... even for something so difficult, there is not one-best path.  If anything, it would be interesting for articles to focus on that over the typical drama of blood and chalk.

There are a lot more people who've freed El Cap in a day.  Tommy's done it more than once (he freed the Nose in a day in 2005 I think).  Jordan Cannon tried and failed to get Golden Gate in a day, but he did get Freerider in a day (it's in a movie called "Free as can Be").  James Lucas has also freed Freerider in a day.  I think someone named Alex Honnold also freed it in a day.  I think Jim Herson should be on the list as well as many others.

The number of WOMEN who've freed any El Cap route in a day is going to be very short and Emily will (of course) rank very high on that list.  Huge gratz to her...

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

Andy, I don't sympathise at all with this wopper. Lynn was on the front cover of SI back in the day. 

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 150
John RB wrote:

The number of WOMEN who've freed any El Cap route in a day is going to be very short and Emily will (of course) rank very high on that list.  Huge gratz to her...

Beth Rodden & Steph Davis just off the top of my head. 

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

awesome accomplishment. shitty journalism.  

John RB · · Boulder, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 144

By the way, I think the only person to ever free two El Caps routes in the same day is Tommy; he freed the Nose (14a) and Freerider (13a) in 23 hrs 23 mins, back in 2005.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=114312&f=0&b=0

Max Jones · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 0

Only four women have freed El Cap in a day: 

Lynn Hill - Nose (first person to free El Cap in a day)
Steph Davis - Free rider
Mayan Smith-Gobat - Free rider
Emily Harrington - (Golden Gate) 

From what I understand, less than 25 people have freed El Cap in a day. Still kind of a big deal.

Andy F · · Emeryville, CA · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0

But isnt that the point? Even among climbers no one has the slightest clue what the definitive list is? Im a very modest crag climber, and acknowledge wikipeida and rock and ice arent journalistic sources... but who exactly is a journalist supposed to call to try and reach something authoritative here? Is there a source or are we all just looking through our memory holes for an answer? :D

Doctor Drake · · San Francisco · Joined May 2018 · Points: 126
John RB wrote:

By the way, I think the only person to ever free two El Caps routes in the same day is Tommy; he freed the Nose (14a) and Freerider (13a) in 23 hrs 23 mins, back in 2005.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=114312&f=0&b=0

Link was weird on my phone, so in case anyone else has that problem, here is the story:

Posted by Chris McNamara, Nov 1, 2005

On October 30-31, Tommy Caldwell free climbed both The Nose and Freerider in a combined time of 23 hours and 23 minutes. It was an astonishing accomplishment. The only person other than Tommy ever to free climb The Nose in a day was Lynn Hill almost twelve years ago. Tommy “warmed up” for this event when he free climbed The Nose a few weeks ago with his wife Beth Rodden and then climbed the route a few days later in 12 hours. Needless to say, nobody had ever free climbed The Nose and free climbed another El Cap route in less than a day.

Tommy started October 30 at 1:03am and cruised up The Nose in 11 hours with his wife Beth Rodden, who belayed and jumared. "The weather was perfect" said Caldwell. "The temperatures were crisp and the wind was so calm your voice echoed off the rock." On the crux 5.14a Changing Corners pitch he took two short falls before sending the pitch on his third go. After a few minutes of food and rest on the summit, he ran down the East Ledges descent and was back in El Cap Meadow just before 1pm.

I was his belayer/jumarer for the second leg of the link-up. We started up the Freerider at 1:36pm in perfect fall weather with temps in the low 60's and a slight breeze. On the first pitch, and for the next 28 pitches, it was hard to tell that he had just climbed The Nose that morning. He showed little fatigue and it was impossible to tell when he was doing a hard move. Every move he made looked like 5.7. I felt like I was belaying him on The Nutcracker.

The first 10 pitches took two hours. We got to the Monster Offwidth (Pitch 19 just below El Cap Spire) just as the sun was setting. The wall was bright orange and as he left the belay he assured me that this pitch was actually going to be a little strenuous for him. I guess he was true to his word, because he made this 5.11 offwidth nightmare look like 5.9 (unlike the first 19 pitches that all looked like 5.7).

Below us, we watched Dean Potter speed up the route five pitches below us. He was going for a one-day free ascent of The Salathé Wall. Over on The Nose, Thomas Huber was making a multi-day free attempt with four support crew (Ivo, Ammon, and some buddies doing their first big wall). At that moment, there were four parties on El Cap, three of which were making free ascents. Seems that these days you are noteworthy if you are the ones NOT making a free ascent of El Cap!

On El Cap Spire, we put on the headlamps and started the night-climbing leg of the push in crisp 50 degree weather with no wind. Two pitches higher, for the first time on the climb, I saw Tommy really exert himself. It was the section where you have to do a V6/V7 boulder problem on holds that all seem to face the wrong direction. For a brief second he made the route really look like its 5.12c rating. A minute later he was at the belay and we were onto the next pitch. I guess even the best climbers can look a little tired on V7 after climbing 5000 feet.

So what’s the demeanor of one of the best free climbers in the world when he is pulling off one of the biggest free climbing achievements of his life? One might expect Zen-like concentration to pull through such a demanding day. Or maybe he would be shouting and screaming like you see a lot of top boulderers do to pull through V15 problems. Not Tommy. He just seemed like he was having a day out at the crags. There was no rushing of either the climbing or the belay changeovers. We even burned some time talking about home improvement. He felt the best way to organize a 1900 square foot house was with three bedrooms and a loft. I wondered if it was best just to convert the loft to a fourth bedroom.

Below The Sewer pitch he paused a minute to quiz me, “So Chris, why, after so many El Cap ascents, have you still not free climbed it?” Believe me Tommy, if I could make 5.12 look like 5.7, I would be free climbing everything right there with you.

On Pitch 28, Tommy took a fall. He had just started up the overhanging, flaring 5.12b crack when he took a short five-foot fall onto a fixed nut. I was shocked because up until that point it didn’t seem like he could fall even if he wanted to. Gravity just didn’t seem to work on him the same way it does with the rest of us. He pulled the rope, tied back in, and started up again. This time he laybacked the crack that he had previously tried to straight-in jam. He got about six feet higher than his first go and then fell again.

At this point, we both got a little nervous. Hanging from the rope, he said in a slightly frustrated tone, “This pitch was so easy the other day.” I reminded him that he had climbed over 5500 vertical feet of rock that day. It was okay to feel a little tired. But it turned out that it wasn’t so much that he was tired as it was the fact that he wasn't used to climbing this pitch in the dark. He realized that he always stemmed this pitch on micro edges and they were not as obvious at night. He ticked a few footholds with chalk, lowered back to the belay, and pulled the rope. I knew that if he sent this pitch, he had the route.

He sent the pitch and, sure enough, he continued cruising the route to the summit. We topped out at 12:26am, 10 hours and 50 minutes after starting. On the summit we were met with hugs, congratulations, and SoCo from great friends Beth Rodden, Kim Miller, Corey Rich, Josh Lowell, and Adam Stack. We joked that while Tommy did look tired, he didn't look nearly as worked as someone should after 6000 feet of hard free climbing.I said, "Tommy, there are still 37 minutes left in the day, want to try and free climb something else? I think we could find you a boulder problem up here. Or maybe some pull-ups? Push-ups?"

It was an amazing day. Not only did Tommy pull off something I don't think anyone else had considered possible, he did it with a level of calm and casualness I've only experienced on 4th class terrain. A few pitches below the top he told me, "This has been one of my biggest free climbing goals but i didnt think i could do it. I can't believe I am up here and it's happening." It was an astonishing comment considering he was making this link-up his first try. It reminded me of his comment some time ago that he thought the Free Dihedral Wall was going to take a few years to work. That climb is the most difficult El Cap free route and probably the hardest big wall free climb in the world. Tommy climbed it on his first attempt, after only months of working the route.

What will Tommy Caldwell do when he picks a big wall goal that really does take a few years and many attempts to accomplish?

I bolded that last line. Foreshadowing, anyone?

SethG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 291

I feel badly for Emily Harrington. She did something great and then it gets misunderstood and mangled in the translation. I hope she can still enjoy the moment even as she works to get all of these reports corrected. 

Jaxon S · · Berkeley · Joined Dec 2018 · Points: 25

It's comments like that quoted story from Chris Mac that make all the bullshit on this site worth it. Thanks for posting

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107
John RB wrote:

By the way, I think the only person to ever free two El Caps routes in the same day is Tommy; he freed the Nose (14a) and Freerider (13a) in 23 hrs 23 mins, back in 2005.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=114312&f=0&b=0

I still consider this to be the greatest climbing achievement. Totally mindblowing.

Not sure what the media's obsession with trying to report climbing achievements as "records". Pretty annoying...

Sirius · · Oakland, CA · Joined Nov 2003 · Points: 619

From what I understand, less than 25 people have freed El Cap in a day. Still kind of a big deal.

It is definitely a big deal for anyone to send free IAD. 

My partner and I were passed by Will Stanhope and Hayden Kennedy around Salathe's pitch 20, early morning, back in 2013 - imagine the strength and ability in that team - and they rapped back down a few hours later, turned away by the Boulder Problem in their IAD bid on the Freerider. 

That's the "easiest" free big line El Cap offers, and it turned back that mutant team that day. Anyone who pulls off EC free IAD is having a god damn day for the ages. 

(That Tommy sent two IAD, leading every pitch, is forever cemented in my mind as one of the wildest things to ever happen in the Valley - up there with Lynn's single-handedly ushering in a new era on The Nose.)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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