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EMILY HARRINGTON

ROCK CLIMBER

 

Driven and determined. That’s Emily in a nutshell. Born and raised in Boulder, CO, Emily Harrington has been climbing for most of her life and boasts an impressive list of achievements to show for it. After a decade of success in climbing competitions at the highest level, Emily’s adventurous spirit has led her to blaze new trails in the mountains, notching first female ascents on some of the hardest technical routes around the globe, free climbing big walls, and summitting the world's tallest peaks.

  • Five-time sport climbing US National Champion
  • First female ascent of multiple 5.14 sport climbs
  • Free climbed 'Golden Gate' on El Capitan, Yosemite (5.13b, 40 pitches)
  • Winner of the women’s division at Ouray Ice Festival 2012
  • Summitted Mt Everest in 2012
  • Summitted Cho Oyu (sixth tallest peak in the world) in 2016, achieving a speed record (2 weeks, door to door) and complete ski descent from the summit

 

 

Why live a life that's perceived as mad?

 

Not every person is inspired to pursue a life deemed dangerous and unsustainable by conventional society.  I’ve chosen to follow such a path, to venture to the far corners of the earth, spend time away from comfort and safety, to push my body and mind to their very limits and oftentimes beyond my own perceived potential.  Those experiences are not void of risk or danger.  They are intrinsic and necessary qualities of a life based on the pursuit of one’s passion.  Some dismiss such antics as crazy, reckless, ego-driven, and immature, but I have to disagree whole-heartedly.  

I am lucky to have found my passion at a young age.  When I discovered climbing it felt like a great realization.  All of the pieces of myself seemed to fit into this one activity.  I remember it felt both limitless and all-encompassing, a hopeful excitement that climbing could endure anything life threw at me and never let me down.  It could last my entire existence and it still wouldn’t be enough.  Two decades later and that theory is still going strong.  I’ve grown constantly more mesmerized by this pursuit and how it has evolved and changed with me as I’ve grown.  My experiences while climbing - up high on the side of a cliff, taking repeated heart-stopping falls thousands of feet above the earth, or on a big peak with altitude making me dizzy and ill, feeling alone and too far away from home, or countless other scary and uncomfortable circumstances - Those are the moments that have stuck with me, burned into my memory forever.  Those are the experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything.  They created me as I am, and I wouldn’t choose to live any other way.  Throughout the last 20 years, climbing has served as a constant companion and humbling ego-check at times when I’ve needed it most.  This way of life continuously reminds me how to respect and appreciate risk, how to accept and make sense of failure, and embrace suffering.  

Without understanding risk, failure, and suffering, we cannot gain a clear vision of ourselves and our limitations.  Without that struggle and fear we will never experience our full potential as human beings.  That’s what passion is.  It is venturing to the metaphorical edge of ourselves and peering over to see what we find - an innate internal curiosity begging to be explored. These edges of personal introspection can be examined in a variety of ways: creatively, intellectually, artistically, or physically.  No one form is more right or true than the other.  Some may call it madness, but I believe life’s greatest and most worthy challenge is to find that curiosity, and once it’s been found to keep looking over that edge and exploring the potential hidden there.  

#QuestionMadness