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Still Cool: Lynn Hill Climbs/Breezes Yosemite's Midnight Lightning

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Sheeze. Bouldering V8 Like it's nothing at all. No, it's not exactly news. It happened in 1998, but I rabbit-holed my way into this video, loved it, and decided it ought to be shared.

One of the first successful professional women in rock climbing, Lynn Hill is largely responsible for influencing women to join the sport, and for advocating for gender equality in rock climbing because, as she lamented in an interview with Climbing Magazine, "there's a lot less importance and prestige placed on women in climbing, no matter what [their] ability is."

If you know of her story, you know that through the late 1980s and early 1990s Hill was considered one of the most accomplished climbers on the planet, nabbing 30 competitive titles and making a dizzying number of impressive, difficult ascents. She says she retired from competitive rock climbing because of its intense focus on artificial indoor walls and because of her distaste for poor sportsmanship, large egos, sexism, and rule bending she experienced in competitions. She set her sights instead on The Nose, a 31-pitch route that follows the 3000-foot-tall prow of Yosemite's El Capitan but had never been climbed free (instead of with aid) from bottom to top, despite having been attempted . . . by men. So she set out to climb the route free, kind of as a retirement salute and in her words: "You don't have to be a man to do something that's 'out there' as a first ascent. Obviously people tried to do that route and they failed on it and so if a lot of good climbers have come and tried to do it and failed and a woman comes and does it first it's really meaningful. That was my underlying motivation." (Climber, Jan 2012)

In 1993, she pulled it off in a four-day push with her partner, then retuned a year later and did it again in just under 24 hours.

If that's retirement, then what the heck is this light-footed, effortless dance up Midnight Lightning, the world's most famous V8 boulder problem located in Yosemite's Camp 4? Watch it — when you see really hard climbing made to appear easy, what else could happen other than the desire to squeeze into the shoes and find a boulder? In 1998, and in her "retirement," Hill made the first female ascent of Midnight Lightning, 20 years after climber Ron Kauk pulled it off for the first time (and he worked the problem for 2 months). Other folks play golf.

What's she doing now? Glad you asked. Word has it she's raising a family. Pretty cool. According to ol' Wikipedia, today is her birthday. So while we're at it, Happy Birthday to Lynn Hill.


# Guest 2014-02-20 16:08
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