Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World

Overview

The legendary rock climber who redefined the boundaries of her sport tells her story.
From the age of thirteen when she began climbing, it was clear Lynn Hill had an unusual gift. Before long she was arguably the best rock climber in the world, establishing routes so bold and difficult that few others could follow. And in 1994, Lynn succeeded on a climb that no one—man or woman—has been able to repeat: the first "free ascent" of the Nose on Yosemite's El Capitan, which means ...

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Overview

The legendary rock climber who redefined the boundaries of her sport tells her story.
From the age of thirteen when she began climbing, it was clear Lynn Hill had an unusual gift. Before long she was arguably the best rock climber in the world, establishing routes so bold and difficult that few others could follow. And in 1994, Lynn succeeded on a climb that no one—man or woman—has been able to repeat: the first "free ascent" of the Nose on Yosemite's El Capitan, which means that she climbed 3,000 feet of vertical granite without using gear to aid her ascent—and all in under twenty-three hours. In Climbing Free Hill describes her famous climb and meditates on how she harnesses the strength and the courage to push herself to such extremes. She tells of her near-fatal 80-foot fall, her youth as a stunt artist for Hollywood, her friendships with climbing's most colorful personalities, and the tragedies and triumphs of her life in the vertical world. More than merely a story of adventure, this book stands out as a genuine, singular account of a life richly and boldly lived.
"Lynn Hill isn't just one of the best female climbers in the world—she is among the greatest rock climbers of all time."—Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air "[Hill's] story...is one of unbelievable determination, quiet inspiration and extraordinary courage."—Publishers Weekly Daily "Lynn Hill is probably the greatest athlete the general public has never heard of."—Boulder Daily Camera, Judith Lovdokken "A legend who has redefined the boundaries of adventure sports."—Wired

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Editorial Reviews

Jon Krakauer
Lynn Hill isn't just one of the best female climbers in the world—she is among the greatest rock climbers of all time.
Judith Lovdokken
Lynn Hill is probably the greatest athlete the general public has never heard of.
Library Journal
Hill is touted as the greatest free climber in the world meaning she climbs without gear, which could make for scary reading. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Now 40, competitive rock climber Hill collects her anecdotes about the past quarter century, during which she has tackled some of the world's most challenging faces. Many black-and-white snapshots and a bank of advertisement-quality color photographs accompany the text. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
In an unvarnished debut, Hill shares climbing experiences, offers technical tips, and portrays her emotional ties to other elite climbers. As a 14-year-old California girl, Hill discovered rock climbing in 1975, when she tagged along with her sister's crew to Joshua Tree National Park. Small, but strong and flexible from gymnastics, she quickly fell in with J-Tree's top climbers; nicknamed "Little Herc," she honed her skills on huge boulders named EBGB's and Trespassers Will Be Violated, while members of the wild bunch climbed naked at night or with a noose around the neck. Hill developed world-class abilities at the climbing citadel of Yosemite National Park, where she made repeated ascents of the famous walls El Capitan and Half Dome. Her portrait of Yosemite's talented climbers skillfully juxtaposes their artistry in the air with their freeloading creepiness on the ground; shoplifting and consumption of tourist leftovers were regular practices, and when a marijuana-laden plane crashed in the Sierras, the fit climbers became competitive entrepreneurs. Hill confined her energies to legal games, beginning with Survival of the Fittest, a televised four-event competition that she won four years in a row. By the mid-1980s, she was winning most of the European sport-climbing competitions despite French attempts to rewrite the rules to benefit national favorite Catherine Destivelle. On the flip side of Hill's career success is an abundance of personal heartache. Chuck Bludworth, who introduced her to climbing, died on a dramatic ascent of Argentina's 23,000-foot Mt. Aconcaqua. High falls and avalanches kill other good friends. A romantic relationship with John Long goes nowhere slowly, andHill's marriage to climber/businessman Russ Raffa, made without adequate thought, fails quickly, though a wedding picture of the couple hanging in harnesses from a cliff did make Bride's magazine. A few too many rock faces, but still an appealing blend of climbing drama and personal candor. (b&w photos throughout) Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393324334
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/19/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 314,498
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Hill has been featured in Life, Vanity Fair, Outside, Time, National Geographic, and in the IMAX film Extreme. She lives in Moab, Utah.

Greg Child is a world-class mountaineer and the author of several books on climbing. He lives near Moab, Utah.

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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Acknowledgments xv
Chapter 1 The Perfect Fall 1
Chapter 2 Early Days 13
Chapter 3 First Contact 33
Chapter 4 Joshua Tree 49
Chapter 5 White Wind 63
Chapter 6 Yosemite Days 81
Chapter 7 Big-Wall Thrills 105
Chapter 8 Adventures with Largo 127
Chapter 9 From Vegas to Hollywood 151
Chapter 10 Heading East 173
Chapter 11 Into the Arena 191
Chapter 12 Freeing the Nose 225
Chapter 13 Full Circle 249
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2002

    The Greatest Woman Athlete of All Time

    In the Preface to this terrific book, John Long suggests that Lynn Hill may have been the greatest female athlete of the 80s and 90s. Her free climb of The Nose route of El Capitain in Yosemite in 1993 is on a par with the barriers Tiger Woods broke in the past five years in golf. It revises the parameters of climbing upward to an unprecedented degree by a female (or male) climber. --All of this done hanging over 2000 feet up by her fingertips, feet on a rock face like glass! Like many visionaries, her contribution may not be recognized by the popular culture for years to come, but this book goes a long way in describing in straightforward terms the degree of her mastery over fear and the superhuman physical achievement that was the free climb of The Nose route. Recommended for people who recognize a zenith of women's strength: It happened in Yosemite in 1993.

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