Notable Yosemite climbs by women

Half Dome North Shoulder - Sandy Dutcher, _____? 1875
Washington Column Direct - Ulf Ramm-Ericson, Winifred "Freddy" Hubbard, Jack Arnold, Dave Harrah 1947 Grade III, 15 pitches, 2 days, 4th ascent
Half Dome NW Face - Royal Robbins, Liz Robbins 1967 Grade VI mixed team
Nose attempt - Royal Robbins, Liz Robbins 1967 [reached 600'; insufficient water for the summer heat]
Nose attempt - Elaine Matthews, Chuck Ostin 1970 [reached Camp VI; then blizzard and rescue]
Salathe' Wall - Royal Robbins, Egon Marte, Johanna Marte 1971 El Cap Grade VI mixed team
Triple Direct - Sibylle Hechtel, Bev Johnson 1973 Grade VI
NA Wall - Ellie Hawkins, Bruce Hawkins, Keith Nannery 1973 Grade VI A4
Grape Race - Bev Johnson, Charlie Porter 1973 Grade VI first ascent
Washington Column South Face - Bev Johnson 1973 Grade V solo
Dihedral Wall - Bev Johnson 1978 Grade VI solo
Zenyatta Mondatta - Catherine Freer, Todd Bibler 1980s Grade VI A5, second ascent
Zodiac - Sue Harrington 1985 Grade VI solo
Never Never Land - Ellie Hawkins 1980s? Grade VI solo
Ribbon Falls Dyslexia - Ellie Hawkins 1985 Grade VI solo first ascent
Nose - Merry Braun, Werner Braun 1990 Nose in a day mixed team
Nose - Sue McDevitt, Nancy Feagin 1992 Nose in a day
Nose - Lynn Hill, Hans Florine 1992 Nose speed record mixed team
Nose - Lynn Hill, Brooke Sandahl (some aid) 1993 El Cap Grade VI free, FFA of Nose
Nose - Lynn Hill, Steve Sutton (jumared) 1994 first El Cap Grade VI free in a day
various free climbs and walls - Sue McDevitt 1980s-90s most Yosemite first ascents - 32
Reticent Wall - Sylvia Vidal, Pep Masip, Miquel Puigdomenech 1997 Grade VI "new wave" A5
Wyoming Sheep Ranch - Sylvia Vidal 2000 Grade VI "new wave" A5 solo
Nose - Heidi Wirtz, Vera Schulte-Pelkum 2004 Nose speed record
Half Dome NW Face - Kate Rutherford, Madaleine Sorkin 2007 Grade VI free by team

Bibliography

  1. Ament, Pat, Royal Robbins: Spirit of the Age, 1998
  2. Florine, Hans, www.speedclimb.com
  3. Hechtel, Sibylle, "Untitled", American Alpine Journal, 1974, p.62-65
  4. Hechtel, Sibylle C., "Walls Without Balls", Rock and Roses, Mikel Vause ed., 1990, p.61-70
  5. Meyers, George and Don Reid, Yosemite Climbs, 1987
  6. Rawlings, John, The Stanford Alpine Club, 1999, p.12

This list was originally created by Melissa Michelitsch on the spur of the moment a few years ago, when rehabbing a knee injury. It was a partial list of "firsts" by women in Yosemite, based on information gathered from books on womens' climbing, the Yosemite guidebook and google searches. The project was eventually abandoned, because much of the history was unwritten and also because the concept of a women's "first" being significant implies that women are less able than men.

Clint Cummins revived the project here, with a reduced list in chronological order. I feel that even an incomplete history is better than none. Questions like "who was the first woman to climb El Cap" will still be asked, and even if we might not agree with the motivation for asking the question, it may still be useful to provide an answer that is believed to be correct. When the answer is unsure, having a date to go with it will allow corrections to be made to the list, so hopefully the history will become clearer in the future.

Rev. 11/2008. Please send any corrections to clint@stanford.edu