First All Female Ascent and First Female Solo of El Cap


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 30, 2007 - 02:15pm PT
Groundbreaking Yosemite history from Summit April 1974 and Oct/Nov 1978. Blowing the roof off thirty years back.

And just a short while later........


Social climber
Sep 30, 2007 - 04:01pm PT
hey there... thanks for sharing this... this is great yosemite history... thanks for sharing this great job by climber-bev!

Trad climber
Portland, OR
Sep 30, 2007 - 04:02pm PT
Is that an old Troll Whillans harness? Not known for it's comfort in a fall. . . but maybe worse for the men.

Great reading, great accomplishment.
Frank Sanders

Trad climber
Devils Tower. Wyoming
Sep 30, 2007 - 09:46pm PT
Oh Steve,
SUSAN HARRINGTON will always be the 1st True Female Solo of El Cap, by me. In impeccable style she hauled her own loads, fixed all the initial pitches totally by herself and continued to finish all other pitches ALONE. There wasn't even anyone to meet her at the top, so she descended the rappels, Solo. It was 1985. What a Woman !!!

Scared Silly

Trad climber
Sep 30, 2007 - 11:33pm PT
Speaking of fine ladies, Barb Eastman is my neighbor. She and Molly Higgins did the first all female ascent of the Nose in 1977. A couple of years ago Barb found her slides of their ascent. Great fun seeing that history.

Here is an online article that profiles some that history and other female history in Yosemite:
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Oct 1, 2007 - 09:04am PT

This is a note that Robbins sent to Ken Wilson, editor of Mountain Magazine, on Bev's solo ascent of the Leaning Tower. Ken sent it to me to include in the climbing notes for Yosemite.

Reading an old note, politically incorrect, in handwriting, that traversed from California to England to California by mail, to be included as big news, makes it seem like a long time ago. The picture of Bev in the article that Steve posted makes it seem like yesterday.


Big Wall climber
Yosemite, CA
Oct 1, 2007 - 01:53pm PT
I look up to Bev immensely and I loved reading that she also soloed the West Face of Leaning Tower. I have looked to her often for inspiration and feel sad that I never had the chance to meet her. She paved the way for so many and even now you read threads here about "all female teams" like it is some huge deal. Woman can send hard on El Cap, and Bev showed us to just do it. Third solo of El Cap period. Nice job Bev, and a great route to do it on.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 1, 2007 - 06:11pm PT
Isn't it somewhat condescending to say "first female" ANYTHING?

Haven't adventure sportswomen like Lynn Hill and Joy Ungritch shown us that that women are just as capable of outdoing men?

Trad climber
Oct 1, 2007 - 06:22pm PT
No more sexist comments on the supertaco. Good climbers of all genders are celebrated equally

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Oct 1, 2007 - 10:37pm PT
"Isn't it somewhat condescending to say "first female" ANYTHING?"

It can be, but in this case, it's absolutely not. W/o first females like Bev and Lynn, I would never have thought that climbing was something that I could/should try.

"Haven't adventure sportswomen like Lynn Hill and Joy Ungritch shown us that that women are just as capable of outdoing men?

By being a first female, Lynn Hill showed me that women can outdo men. I'm motivated by additional examples too though.

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Oct 1, 2007 - 11:21pm PT
looks like Bev was a hottie...

Oct 2, 2007 - 12:36am PT
Down Ray.

Roger, that is an awesome bit of history. Thanks for posting.

Social climber
Ventura, California
Oct 2, 2007 - 11:21am PT
That is so cool, I didnít know she wind surfed acrossed the Bering straight.

I really liked Bev she was a great person.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Oct 2, 2007 - 12:25pm PT
Knocked off the Captain solo in eight days, pretty darn fast!

Be sure to click on Sewellymon's link to the other Bev thread above. Ed copied a great homily by Jim Bridwell written for Climbing mag after Bev died in a helicopter crash in '94.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 2, 2007 - 12:29pm PT
Anybody have a copy of Yosemite Climber to post the classic photo of Bev and her yellow haulsack on the Dihedral Wall solo?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 16, 2007 - 12:53pm PT
Well, I finally had to go digging for the 74 AAJ account of Bev and Sibylle's ascent to round out this thread.

Uncertainty equals adventure and these two women had a grand one!
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Oct 16, 2007 - 12:56pm PT
Let's not forget Lynn and Mari's first all female ascent of the Sheild. Together they weigh about what I do. No silly Z hauling rigs, no futzing around, just went and knocked it out years ago.

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
Oct 16, 2007 - 10:04pm PT
I don't have the info any more, but I have this vague recollection from a bit of women's climbing history research that I did then lost that Ellie Hawkins was on the second ascent of the Sheild and did her share of crux leading. (Pls. correct me if I'm wrong.)

I don't understand why using mechanical advantage would be any kind of ding on your style (I'm not sure if that's what you're saying, although I've seen it said before by others), except that if you only weigh 90 pounds, to go w/o it, you have to pack a lot less than a big person?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 17, 2007 - 12:19am PT
Here you go, Steve. Bev Johnson, from her solo ascent of the Dihedral Wall. From "Yosemite Climber", by George Meyers.

Mountain 44 reports that Hugh Burton was on the second ascent of the Shield, but it doesn't say with who. Chuck Pratt and Steve Sutton did the third ascent.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 17, 2007 - 12:40am PT

I saved that table from your research in '04 and modified it slightly to yield:

You had Ellie Hawkins, Bruce Hawkins and Keith Nannery down in 1973 for an ascent of the Shield. I am pretty sure they did the North American Wall; there is a photo of her in Yosemite Climber on p.21 and a detailed caption on p.96. I don't know if they also did the Shield.
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