Top climber Emily Harrington falls on El Capitan in Yosemite, rescued by fellow climbers

Local News

(CBS News) – Rock climber Emily Harrington survived a fall on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park’s famous 3,200-foot monolith that is popular with top climbers. She said in an Instagram post she was rescued by fellow climbers Adrian Ballinger, Jon Glassberg, Sanni McCandless and Alex Hannold, who was the first person to climb El Capitan without ropes or safety gear, as seen in the Oscar-winning documentary “Free Solo.”

“I had an accident yesterday on El Cap. I’m banged up but gonna be ok thankfully,” Harrington, 33, wrote Monday on Instagram. “Not much to say except I took a bad fall and pin balled a bit then somehow hit the rope w my neck.”

She shared a photos of her injuries, including a significant rope burn on her neck, and said she is “extremely grateful” for her rescuers.

Ballinger, one of her rescuers, posted about the incident on his own Instagram page, saying it was a “scene we all dread” and sharing photos of the rescue operation.

“The most important person in my world crumpled on a ledge after a big fall in below freezing temperatures with real injuries and a lot of reasons to suspect spinal injury,” he wrote.

According to Ballinger, Hannold immobilized Harrington’s spine while “telling stories and keeping her talking throughout.” He said Yosemite Search and Rescue was on the scene within 90 minutes.

“Competent paramedics and Trauma 1 Center docs to give the good drugs and eventually to clear Em of spinal injury despite some gnarly wounds,” he wrote.

He then paid tribute to Harrington’s “warrior mentality.” “It’s gonna take a bit of time, but Em and her blood stained earrings and new neck tattoo will be back in the vertical world soon,” Ballinger wrote.

Harrington is a five-time U.S. sport climbing champion and free-climbed the Golden Gate route on El Capitan in 2015. According to, she has been trying to climb the Golden Gate route again, this time from the base to the summit in a single day.

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