Elite climber falls from Yosemite's El Capitan, rescued by fellow climbers, including Alex Honnold

ByClaudette Stefanian via KFSN logo
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
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A top climber was rescued Sunday after she fell while climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

FRESNO, Calif. -- A top climber was rescued Sunday after she fell while climbing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Emily Harrington recalls the moment she suddenly lost her grip, quickly falling dozens of feet. Her rope suddenly stopped her descent to the ground.

"It was digging into my head I was so upset...so upset," she said.

The bruises around Harrington's face and arms are visible reminders of the painful drop. But she's giving signs that she's recovering by maintaining a level of calm.

She said extremely thankful to the fellow climbers who helped rescue her, which included Alex Honnold.

"I really appreciate you guys," she told them.

As rescue crews carefully steered her to emergency vehicles away from El Cap, Emily's father, Tim Harrington, said he knew something was off that morning. He said Emily's boyfriend posts about her morning climbs, but that morning he found nothing on his feed. He finally heard from her boyfriend over text.

"My heart just dropped it's my worst nightmare ...as a parent of an extreme athlete," he said.

Tim said Emily lucked out. Rock climbers frequently fall, but he says his daughter has never had a drop this bad. He feared her injuries would be even worse.

"Spinal cord injury.. brain injury ...any fall like that, hit a ledge or slam into a wall is typically pretty serious," he said.

But Tim said his daughter is taking it in stride and moving on. Right now, she's packing for Thanksgiving and still plans to take on a volcano in Ecuador with her dad next week.

"I said are we still going, and she said yeah for sure," Tim said.

According to North Face, Harrington's career accomplishments include free climbing El Cap in six days and becoming a five-time sport climbing US National Champion. Harrington has also climbed high altitude peaks in Nepal, China, Myanmar, Crimea and Morocco.