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Lynn_Hill140 karma

Well, I do have a scar from a very intense fall. I was in France.

And I had JUST come back from a competition, and I won a car, and prize money, and I was relaxing, and at the end of the day, I went out climbing with my husband, and I got distracted when I was tying my knot, I went to get my shoes which were about 20 feet away, and I was talking to a visiting climber, and forgot that I didn't finish my knot.

The rope was still in my harness, and I had a jacket on.

And so, I didn't see that I didn't finish my knot. I climbed to the knot, and I still didn't feel any tension on my harness, because of course the knot wasn't tied, so I pulled on the other side of the rope to pinch in the slack, and instead the rope came out of my harness and I had no rope at all.

And fell to the ground, me and the rope. 72 feet to the ground.

And a tree branch saved my life.

I dislocated my elbow, and I have a scar on my upper pec, from (I guess) the tree branch that impaled my pectorals major - there's a little scar from that.

But it's really not much, considering the fall that i took.

Lynn_Hill98 karma

There have been a few moments when I wasn't sure what would happen if I fell.

And instead of focusing on that, I focused on what I needed to do to NOT fall.

Lynn_Hill88 karma

Well, I think that for me it's about the challenge itself.

Midnight Lightning, when I did it, hadn't been done by a woman, and that wasn't why I wanted to do it necessarily. I wanted to do Midnight Lighting because that boulder itself attracted me.

I don't think my objective is to be the "first woman." That's not one of my criteria. It never was. When I started pushing myself through climbing, I was really around mostly men, but I did have one friend named Mary Gingery, who would climb more similarly to the way I climbed because she wasn't as tall as the men - she was taller than me, but not that tall - so we had a different approach, not only because of our size, but because of our personalities, the way we used more flexibility. So we used our strength as people, as women, either way I don't like to distinguish only by gender. I think it's more based on your specific qualities as a person. I am a woman. But I'm also small, which gives me a disadvantage in some situations where there are big reaches. But it gives me advantages in other situations that are hard to quantify - I weigh less, so each hold feels a bit bigger to smaller hands, so you get better leverage on the holds. BUT when you have to make a long reach, and I'm in a position of an iron cross, that's very strenuous. My strength to weight ratio has to be higher, I have to be stronger for my body weight, to make up for that.

So my simple answer is: because they're pioneering in general.

And because those objectives personally challenge me, and I think it's fascinating to try to optimize in every way possible, because that's part of being a living creature. We always try to do it better and optimize for our own survival. It's natural.

And thank you. The answer to the question is YES, it's changed a lot. Because first of all, I didn't know anything about climbing when I started. There weren't very many women involved in the sport, therefore there weren't very many role models. I think that now we see a lot of really strong women, and also young girls, like Ashima Shiraishi, she did in a very quick time the hardest route done by a woman today, and she's only 14. So Ashima is one of those that I enjoy watching as a climber for a number of reasons (in regards to who you like to watch to climb). But I also think she's got a great attitude. She's a hard worker. She believes in herself obviously because she's proven it time and time again that she's capable of doing things nobody thought were possible. When she did some of the things that were record-breaking as a ten-year old, she was making BIG moves, and I don't know how she was able to do that. I think she had to jump a lot. Because when you're small, and you can't reach something, you don't have many options. You either jump, and sometimes jumping creates too much force and you swing off anyway, or you try to find an alternative sequence, a different set of handholds that go in a slightly different direction, or maybe you find an intermediate handhold that's just enough to find you leverage to get beyond it - like big people wouldn't even look at it as a handhold. But if you're small, you can use an intermediate hold to get past it. But sometimes there just isn't one.

I think that who you are and what your level of experience is affects how male climbers treat you. If you're going with your boyfriend, and you've never climbed before as a woman, then men will probably cater to you more so than if it was a man. So men that climb for the first time don't climb as well as women, typically. Why? Because men rely more on their upper body strength, and they don't use their feet as well as women. So a lot of times women have a more graceful and efficient approach - they aren't just hauling themselves up with their arms, they're using their feet in a more technical manner.

And they're more graceful to watch.

Lynn_Hill68 karma

I was the first person to free climb the nose on El Capitan.

And I am very happy to say that.

Not just the first woman, but the first person.

Lynn_Hill61 karma

Well, I don't know about this "mud falcon," I've never heard that one.

We have a lot of terminology that's pretty funny.

I used to call what we'd bring up on a big wall like El Capitan a "poop tube." It's just a - kind of like a gigantic PVC pipe that you would fill with a bag that you pooped in, and then you closed it up so you wouldn't have to smell it while you're on the wall.

Let me go back and explain one thing: on El Capitan, a 3,000 foot wall, most people don't do it in one day. It takes several days. There are camps where there are ledges, or if there are no ledges, you bring a "porta-ledge." Or a hammock, back in the day. Anyway, obviously you're going to have to use the facilities at some point on a several day climb.

SO instead of just leaning out on a wall and pooping into the air, where you might actually be dropping onto somebody below you (which might explain "mud falcons") - actually when i was trying to free-climb the nose for the first time, I was sleeping on Camp 4, and somebody was on Camp 5, which is directly overhead, and I woke up with some kind of messy stool on my sleeping bag...

Maybe you shouldn't tell this story.

Anyways, we are responsible for our excrement and trash, so we carry everything with us. And so for that purpose, you can bring a plastic bucket so you don't have to smell it like I said before. But you need to contain that stuff so it doesn't smell, and you're not leaving it on the wall or dropping it down onto other people.

Well, there's a lot of technique terms.

One of the terms that we use to describe a hand position was named after Gaston R├ębuffat. And so in a book that he published many years ago, he showed this position of his hand with the thumbs down, so it's kind of like an inverted grip. Normally when you grab something your hand is facing thumb-up, but sometimes on the rock there are times when you want your thumbs down, like on a vertical-shaped hold for example.

And then there's techniques called "the flag" - that's when you drop your foot down underneath you, you're not really using your foot on the rock, you're using your leg as a counterbalance. So it's for balance. You just swing your leg under, and it's called a flag. And I'm actually working on a video and it's going to explain all the different techniques and the process of how you plan a sequence of moves on the rocks.

So hopefully that will be out in the next year. So a lot of these terms will be documented in a way so that people have access to a source. Because right now our climbing lingo is - it's very difficult to show all the different techniques without showing in video, so I'm working on that. It's taking quite a few years.

So there's a lot of little terms that people say like "Grab that tweaker" or "Dime-edge" - an edge so thin, it's the width of a dime - you can use all kinds of words to describe the features.

A "nubbin" would be a little tiny feature, a tiny crystal maybe, that just sticks out from a rock face.