(Photo: jon glassberg)

Inside Emily Harrington’s Triumph on El Capitan


Serious athletes are used to digging deep. But there’s pushing yourself, and then there’s what climber Emily Harrington did on November 4, when she became the first woman, and the fourth person ever, to free-climb the Golden Gate route up Yosemite’s El Capitan in a single day. It was an insanely challenging endeavor: a 3,200-foot ascent up the sheer granite wall using only her hands and feet. For Harrington, it was the culmination of a long effort that included a fall on El Cap in 2019, which sent her to the hospital strapped to a backboard. In November, she was just a few hundred feet from the top when she took another bad fall, this time smashing her head. With blood pouring down her face, she had to decide whether she could keep going. In this episode, Harrington talks to Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce about why she’s still terrified at the beginning of every Yosemite season and how falling is what actually allowed her to get to the top.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Vermont, a state that is open for the very best in winter adventures so long as you take some extra steps before traveling. Learn more about how to plan the getaway you need this season at

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Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will both entertain and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, and have since expanded our show to offer a range of story formats, including reports from our correspondents in the field and interviews with the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and the outdoors.