With her trademark blonde braided pigtails dangling behind, Emily Harrington has scaled some of the biggest walls and peaks in the world. The 31-year-old Tahoe resident is a five-time national sport climbing champion, two-time North American champion in the sport and was runner up in the Sport Climbing World Championships. Emily free-climbed El Capitan in Yosemite in six days and has completed numerous first female ascents of 5.14 sport routes—she was the second American female to climb 5.14b. She has summited Everest, speed climbed Cho Oyu (and skied down) and climbed other high-altitude peaks in Nepal, China, Myanmar, Crimea and Morocco.
Emily grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where she realized she was pretty good at climbing. The gym had a junior team that competed against teams from other gyms, and Emily started winning. She started as a member of the USA Junior Climbing Team in 1998 and started winning locally. She became a five-time U.S. champion and then second in the world.
In 2008, Harrington joined The North Face team and her horizon expanded from the indoor wall and the world of competition to rock climbing around the world. In 2011, she joined Conrad Anker on an expedition to Mount Everest to help teach high altitude workers climbing skills. Since that expedition, Emily’s been infatuated by big mountains, both for climbing and skiing. Her boyfriend Adrian Ballinger, an IFMGA guide and professional big mountain skier, is a frequent partner.
Emily lives in Tahoe, California where she climbs, trail runs and skis. She’s working to found a non-profit that introduces underprivileged girls to rock climbing in the Tahoe area.
- First woman to free climb El Capitan via the Golden Gate route (VI 5.13) in less than 24 hours
- Multiple 8000m peak attempts/summits - Mt Everest (2012), Makalu
- Five-time sport climbing US National Champion
- Free ascent of Golden Gate, Yosemite California (40 pitches, 5.13b)
- First female ascent of multiple 5.14 sport climbs
- Winner of the women’s division at Ouray Ice Festival 2012
- Summited 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