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Girl, 9, Climbs El Capitan

Pearl Johnson is the youngest person to ascend the 3,000-foot rock face
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2019 3:33 PM CDT
This Jan. 14, 2015 file photo shows El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, Calif.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

(Newser) – Pearl Johnson is just 9 years old, but she's already set a major record: She's the youngest person to climb El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park. Her parents are "longtime Yosemite locals," per Outside Online—her dad is a law enforcement officer at the park—so she's been climbing just about as long as she's been walking. "Someone asked me if I was nervous, and I said 'No,'" said Pearl's mom, Janet, after the climb, which she and a family friend did alongside the little girl. "I’ve climbed a lot with Pearl. I knew what she was capable of."

Pearl herself, Janet notes, did get nervous at times, but declined her mom's offers to turn back: "She had a desire to pursue the goal. She wanted to climb that mountain," Janet says. After four days and three nights spent climbing the Triple Direct route on the 3,000-foot granite monolith, the group summited on September 16, as a hail storm raged. Pearl's feat came just months after Selah Schneiter, 10, climbed El Capitan (via the more popular Nose route, which was too crowded when Pearl's group started its journey), making her at that point the youngest person to ascend the rock face. (Read more Yosemite National Park stories.)

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