[Photo] Giulio Malfer

Lynn Hill

Posted on: October 1, 2006


I belong to a generation of climbers who define success by style: for us, free climbing is a philosophy and a way of life. I'd been a child during the 1960s when women burned their bras and hundreds of thousands gathered in protests against the Vietnam War. As a climber, I've felt connected to a similar nonconformist culture, one opposed to society's increasing materialism, pollution and corruption. Our approach to the rock—clean, traditional climbing, with the least dependence on equipment—was an extension of this ethical viewpoint. Instead of resorting to artificial aid, we aspired to rise to whatever level nature demanded: by using our skills, strength and imagination—and by not groveling, or giving in to fear. As climbing has become more mainstream, my involvement as a public speaker, writer, guide and spokesperson has given me an increasing sense of responsibility to help preserve our environment for the next generation.

The birth of my son, Owen, has been one of the greatest gifts in my life, and I hope to share many adventures with him in a healthy and peaceful world. Whether I'm balancing on a wildly sculpted rock dome in Joshua Tree or free climbing 2,000 feet up a big wall in Yosemite, I still feel free—free to be accountable for my choices and actions. I'm thankful, after thirty years, to live a passionate, unfettered life and to love climbing as much as ever.

Lynn Hill: curriculum vitae

1975: 5.4, Big Rock, Lake Perris, California, first climb and first lead.

1978: Fifth place, Uneven Parallel Bars, California State Championship.

1979: Ophir Broke (II 5.12d), Telluride, and Pea Brain (5.12d), Independence Pass, Colorado, first free ascents and first female ascents of the grade, with John Long. Stairway to Heaven (III 5.12), Tahquitz Rock, California, first free ascent, with Long and Tim Powell. Graduates from Canyon High School, Anaheim Hills, California.

1980: Coatamundi Whiteout (II 5.12), Granite Mountain, Arizona, first free ascent, with Long and Keith Cunning.

1981: Levitation 29 (IV 5.11a), Red Rocks, Nevada, with Long and Jorge and Joanne Urioste; Hidden Arch (5.12a), Joshua Tree, California, first free ascents.

1982: Blue Nubian (5.11), Joshua Tree, first free ascent. Third place, 1500-meter track event; fourth place, 3000-meter track event, California State Championship.

1984: Yellow Crack Direct (5.12c), Shawangunks, New York, first free ascent. Receives The American Alpine Club's Underhill Award.

1985: Organic Iron (5.12c), Shawangunks; Tourist Treat (5.12c), Cathedral Ledge, New Hampshire, first free ascents, with Russ Raffa. Graduates from SUNY New Paltz, New York, BS in Biology.

1987: Tweazle Roof (5.12d) and Girls Just Want to Have Fun (5.12 X), Shawangunks, first free ascents.

1987-1990: Rock Master Invitational, Arco, Italy, four-time winner; Bercy Master, Paris, France, three-time winner.

1988: The Greatest Show on Earth (5.12d), New River Gorge, West Virginia, first free ascent. Marries Raffa.

1989: Running Man (5.13d), Shawangunks, first free ascent. Dislocates elbow in seventy-foot ground fall, Buoux, France.

1990: Masse Critique (5.14a), Cimai, France, first female ascent, first 5.14 ascent by a woman. World Cup Champion.

1991: Divorces Raffa.

1992: Simon (5.13b), Frankenjura, Germany, first female onsight of the grade. Rock Master Invitational, winner.

1993: The Nose, El Capitan (VI 5.14a, ca. 3,000'), Yosemite Valley, California, first free ascent.

1994: The Nose, first one-day free ascent (23 hours). Mingus (V 5.13a, 12 pitches), Verdon Gorge, France, first free ascent, onsight.

1995: Climbs in the Pamir Alai, Kyrgyzstan: Clodhopper Direct (IV 5.10+), Central Pyramid (3550m), first ascent, and Perestroika Crack (V 5.12b), Peak Slesova (4240m), first free ascent, both with Greg Child; West Face (V 5.12b, 1219m), Peak 4810 (4810m), first team-free ascent, with Alex Lowe.

1996: Halong Bay, Vietnam, various first ascents.

1997: Tete de Chou (5.13a), Todra Gorge, Morocco, first ascent. Writes, produces and directs Free Climbing El Capitan: A Journey on the Route to Liberation.

1998: To Bolt or Not to Be (5.14a), Smith Rocks, Oregon, first female ascent.

1999: Scarface (5.14a), Smith Rocks, first female ascent. Bravo les Filles (VI 5.13d A0, 13 pitches), Tsaranoro Massif, Madasgascar, Africa, first ascent, with Nancy Feagin, Beth Rodden and Kath Pyke. Expedition leader and cowriter of a TV documentary about the climb. Midnight Lightning (V8), Camp 4, Yosemite Valley, first female ascent.

2003: Son, Owen, born. Autobiography, Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World, published.

2004: Viva la Liberdad (5.12b), Vinales, Cuba, first ascent. Sprayathon (5.13c), Rifle, Colorado, first female ascent. Redpoints 5.13d in between breast-feeding her son, Gorge du Tarn, France.

2005: West Face (V 5.13b/c A0), Leaning Tower, first female "free" ascent, with Katie Brown. Starts the Lynn Hill Climbing Camps.

2006: Completes AMGA rock instructor certification.

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