The 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years

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Lynn Hill
Glenn Asakawa / Denver Post / Getty Images12/25

Lynn Hill

“It goes, boys!” Those were the famous words that Lynn Hill said when she proved to the world that women climbers could achieve things men had not. It was 1993, and the 5’2,” 110-pound prodigy had just completed the first free-ascent of The Nose route on Yosemite’s El Capitan. The 31-pitch climb had been widely considered impossible to ascend without ropes and pulleys.

Hill had spent the 1980s dominating every sport climbing competition she entered. But just before turning 30, she decided to return to her first love, traditional climbing and big outdoor routes that required serious commitment. Little did Hill know that she was also laying the foundation for an entirely new era in big-wall climbing, in which the most famous aid-only routes (those requiring gear to pull you upward) would be scaled using only body power.

In 1994 she free-climbed the Nose again in 24 hours, becoming the first person to do so in a single day. Her feat was so stunning and ahead of its time that her record remained for a decade. Hill's mix of athletic prowess, technical ability, and creativity made her climbing appear without limits, and continues to inspire generations of women — and men.

Noteworthy Feats

  • 1993: Became first person to free-climb the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite.
  • 1994: Free-climbed the Nose in 24 hours.
  • 1998: First female ascent of Midnight Lightning, the iconic Camp 4 bouldering problem.
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