Harrington had climbed a particular route on the wall, called Golden Gate, many times, but never in a single day. 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.
"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.
View this post on Instagram
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
View this post on Instagram
~ On the Shoulders of Giants ~ It’s pretty hard to talk about free climbing on El Capitan without mentioning perhaps THE most astonishing ascents of all time - Lynn Hill’s (@_linacolina_) one day free ascent of The Nose in 1994. Her ascent made her the very first human to achieve such a feat, and it was far and beyond what anyone could conceive of at the time. Still today, free climbing El Capitan in a single day (via any route) is a pretty rare occurance (~25 people have achieved this maybe). More impressive, a free ascent of the Nose over the course of many days is considered exceptional and still only a handful of the very best climbers in the world have succeeded (under 10). How’s that for being ahead of one’s time? Having the privilege to grow up in the climbing mecca of Boulder, CO I was lucky enough to get to know Lynn from the beginning of my climbing career. Women like Lynn, @robyn_erbesfield_raboutou, @bethrodden, @katiebrownclimbs, @bobbibensman etc were fixtures in the climbing community at the time. As a little girl I was introduced to climbing knowing that it was a space for women and that we had the potential to excel just as much as men did. Today, after a pretty pivotal week for myself personally as well as for this country and women everywhere (hell yes @kamalaharris) I wanted to celebrate the women who paved the way in our sport and those who continue to push forward today. You all inspired me as a tiny 10 year old girl in the gym and continue to do so today. [also mega huge congrats to @juliachanourdie for becoming the 3rd woman to climb 9b/5.15b last week!] * to clarify in case anyone saw that some media got some of their facts wrong (to be corrected soon hopefully), I am the 4th woman to free climb El Cap in a day via any route behind 3 remarkable women: Lynn (via the Nose), @highsteph (via FreeRider) & @mayanclimbs (via FreeRider)🔥💕✨ Pics: 1) Lynn on the infamous “Changing Corners” pitch on the Nose // 2 & 3) Lynn & I climbing “Country Club Crack” circa 2001 // 4) portrait by @jess_talley of me doing my best Lynn impression in front of El Cap last week 🥰