A natural athlete, Lynn Hill has competed as a gymnast and runners as well as in climbing. She first roped up at the age of 14 and excelled immediately. By the late 1970s she was climbing near the top standards of the day. In 1979, she was the first woman to climb a route of the grade 5.12d. She continued to climb routes at the highest standards of difficulty over the years to follow.
Hill discovered competition climbing during a visit to France in 1986. She quickly moved into the top ranks and won more than 30 international competitions, including five times at the Arco Rock Master—the Wimbledon of competitive climbing. Hill has also climbed some of the hardest outdoor routes in the world, succeeding on a 5.14a route in France called Masse Critique in 1991, the first 5.14 completed by a woman. In 1992, Lynn was also the first woman to make an on sight ascent of a climb rated 5.13b.
Hill possesses a combination of power, grance, and endurance that has enabled her to tackle some of the most difficult challenges in the world of climbing. In 1992, she speed climbed The Nose of El Capitan, Yosemite’s most famous aid route, in just over 8 hours. The following year, she returned to Yosemite to make the first free ascent, encountering two pitches of 5.13 and several 5.12 pitches. A year late, she topped that feaa with the first one-day free ascent of The Nose, leading every one of The Nose’s 33 pitches in 23 hours. The feat will long stand among the world’s great rock climbing accomplishments. It has only been repeated by one person: Tommy Caldwell, who is also known for his first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan. In 1995, Hill took her big wall skills to the high peaks of Kyrgyzstan. There she made the first free ascents of two 5.12 walls: the 4,000-foot west face of Peak 4810 with the late Alex Lowe and the Peretroika Crack of “Tete de Chou.” Rated 5.13b, this route is the hardest climb established by a woman in Morocco. In 1999, Lynn led a small team of women to the island of Madagascar to do a first ascent up a steep, two-thousand-foot wall of granite. This route turned out to be perhaps the most difficult first ascent of a big wall ever done by a team of women (5.13d/A0).
Among America’s best-known climbers, Hill has been a guest at the White House and has been featured on television and in many newspaper and magazine articles. She has produce a film about her all free ascent of The Nose and an autobiography about her life as a climber. Her book is titled, Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (published by W.W. Norton). Lynn currently lives in Boulder, Colorado where she balances her time between climbing, guiding, skiing, speaking, and traveling to cool places around the world and raising her son, Owen Merced Lynch.