Yesterday Emily Harrington became the first Woman to free “Golden Gate” on El Capitan in one day. She is now only the fourth person to have done the notorious route in a day, taking 21 hours, 13 minutes.
Last year while on her second one-day attempt Emily took a 100ft+ fall that left her unconcious, bleeding, and with a huge rope burn around her neck. She was being belayed by Alex Honnold at the time who solo’d up to help her while rescuers got to them and lowered Emily to safety and on to hospital.
The “Golden Gate” route in day is something that Emily has had her eye on for years, first freeing it over six days in June of 2015. Since then she had wanted to send the entire thing in just one day. Harrington was supported by her partner Adrian Ballinger as well as Honnold. Her friend Hilaree Nelson broke the news via instagram.
The route itself is rated as VI 5.13b, or around 8b sport. Originally put up by the Huber brothers in 2000 it is one of Yosemite’s newer, harder routes. The 36-41 pitches (depending on belays used) are spread over the 3,000ft with mostly bolted belays and the pitches being full trad.
It start on the roughly 10 pitch Freeblast slab section that is shared by Freerider and others. Freerider was the route Alex Honnold free solo’d in the movie Free Solo. This first long slab section is where Emily fell 100ft on her second attempt and was rescue’d by YOSAR. From here are few notable pitches including the 50ft “Monster Offwidth” which is exactly like it sounds.
“Golden Gate” splinters off to the right from the Salathé/Freerider with the 5.12c “Downclimb” pitch which is supposedly the crux of the entire thing. There is one 5.13a “The Move” that’s supposed to be all about reach – hard for Emily who is fairly short.
On the 5.13a “Golden Desert” Harrington took a big fall which left her with a deep cut to the head. Instead of rapping down she taped it up and carried on. From here the “A5 Traverse” is a 40ft 5.13a traverse to the right.
This pitch has shut down the world’s best climbers, including Brad Gobright and Ethan Pringle and was the cause of Emily coming down on her first in-a-day attempt. This time she nailed it first try.
The route finishes on the same few pitches as the Heart route – an aid route that got free’d by Mason Earle and Brad Gobright in 2015. Hazel Findlay was the first woman to free climb “Golden Gate” in 2011 – read a great account in her own words here. Brad Gobright managed to free climb it in a day in 2019, shortly before his fatal accident.
Watch Adrian Ballinger’s instagram stories for a few pics and vids of the send. Coincidentally Jordan Cannon tried to get “Golden Gate” in a day just a few days before, being belayed by his climbing partner Mark Hudon. Jordan also got spat off by the A5 traverse and sadly didn’t send. He documented the whole thing on his instagram highlights.