Lynn Hill

First climber to notch a free ascent of El Capitan's Nose

    Photo: Photograph by Christian Witkin

I grew up in Orange County. Climbing was antimaterialism. The first principle was "Do not fall," and the prevailing style was minimal reliance on gear, leave nothing behind. Boldness was a strong ethic. And I still think that climbing tends to attract people who question authority and question logic.

The Nose was challenging on many levels. It had never been done, it was such a historic route, and a lot of really good climbers had tried it and failed. I had rough times up there—things kept going wrong—but I kept moving forward. I had an underlying sense that this was my fate. Even if it's not rational, if you believe in yourself enough, that desire can make you rise to the level of whatever you've imagined.

Being a woman, being small, being tall—it doesn't matter. It's about adapting to the rock in the best way possible with what we've been given.

—INTERVIEW BY GRAYSON SCHAFFER

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