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Emily Harrington Frees El Cap’s “Golden Gate” (5.13b, 41 pitches) in a Day!

After first climbing it in 2015, and having a terrifying close-call on Golden Gate (VI 5.13b) last fall, Harrington returned and became just the fourth person to climb the route in a day.

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Emily Harrington’s got history with Golden Gate: In 2015 she freed all 41 pitches of the route—which has four 5.13 pitches—in a six-day battle. She returned to the route last year to try to climb all 3,000+ feet of it in a single day, something that had only been done by Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold and Brad Gobright. She came painstakingly close on November 7, 2019, but ran out of gas on the last crux pitch near the top.

In the early morning hours of November 26, Harrington laced up her shoes and started up for last-ditch effort before Yosemite turned too cold and snowy. While simul-climbing up the Freeblast, the 12-pitch intro-section of the route, with noneother than Honnold tied into the other end of the rope, she fell, and suffered scary—though ultimately non-life-threatening injuries: the rope had wrapped partway around her neck during the fall, leaving a gruesome mark. Harrington’s fall and the ensuing nighttime rescue—started by Honnold, Harrington’s partner Adrian Ballinger and filmmaker Jon Glassberg, and later seen through by YOSAR—made national news.

This fall, Harrington returned to the Valley to close the book on Golden Gate in a day. Yesterday, once again supported by Honnold and Ballinger, Harrington started up the Freeblast in the dark once again. And this time, 21 hours 13 minutes later, she stood on top, becoming just the fourth person and first woman to free the route in a 24-hour period.

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A post shared by Hilaree Nelson (@hilareenelson) on


Things went swimmingly for the first half of the day. Then on the “Golden Desert” pitch, one of the 5.13s, reports suggest there was nearly a deja vu. Harrington “took a deep cut [on her forehead] from a fall” on that pitch, Hilaree Nelson wrote on Instagram as she shared news of her friend’s success. Nonetheless, Harrington continued on.

Sixteen hours into the climb, she had only one 5.13 pitch left, the “A5 Traverse”—the same bit that shut her down on her first attempt in early November last year. This time she sent first try, Ballinger reported in an Instagram story. Five pitches later, Harrington was done: she had climbed Golden Gate in a day.

More to come soon!


Feature thumbnail: El Cap photo from Loren Chipman; Harrington photo by Adrian Ballinger, via Hilaree Nelson’s Instagram.