Emily Harrington: El Capitan’s Golden Gate in a day

The first women to free climb El Capitan’s route known as Golden Gate in one day. She set a new standard for the future generations of rock climbers.

Emily Harrington, at age 34, is a well known rock climbing athlete that has made an indelible mark in the sport of free climbing. Harrington, a team member of The North Face, is the first woman to free climb El Capitan’s famous route known as Golden Gate.

On November 4, 2020, Harrington set out to climb El Cap’s famous route in 21 hours 13 minutes and 51 seconds. She attempted to climb the route 3 different times before, on her 4th attempt she successfully ascended the route.

“It was this giant representation of everything I’ve worked for in climbing boiled down into one day,” Harrington said in an interview with the New York Times. “There was a lot going on in my head, but at the same time I had this confidence deep down because I knew that I was more ready than I ever had been in my entire life.”

First being climbed in 1948 by Warren Harding, El Capitan is the world’s most renowned rock wall, located in California’s Yosemite National Park. The great rock wall is roughly 3,000 feet tall. Equally as tall as three empire state buildings stacked on top of each other. (Valley Uprising, 2015 film) Climbers come from around the world to climb the famous route.

Harrington’s dream back in 2015 was to free climb Golden Gate periodically in 7 days. Living on the wall, falling, and being beat up, she free climbed the route in 6 days. Because Harrington free climbed the route back in 2015, it set her up for future success. “I never believed I could actually free climb El Cap in a day when I first set the goal for myself,” Harrington said on an Instagram post. “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.”

After many attempts on one pitch, she had a nasty fall, leaving a huge bloody gash in her head which tested her faith to finish. Harrington questioned herself many times before looking for the courage to finish the climb in under 24 hours.

When rolling over the top of the climb, she cried in disbelief. Harrington had done it. She had climbed Golden Gate in one day, in one push, and in one great step for female rock climbers. She had set a new standard for the game of rock climbing.

“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,” She posted on Instagram. “I feel the love so intensely right now. Thank you all.”

Hillcrest Student, Tanner Wilde said with pure amazement in his eyes “I think it’s very impressive that she was able to finish the ascent in a day, in the dark, and with a big gash in her forehead.”