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Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  863 ratings  ·  77 reviews
From the age of thirteen when she began climbing, it was clear Lynn Hill had an unusual gift. Before long she was arguably the best rock climber in the world, establishing routes so bold and difficult that few others could follow. And in 1994, Lynn succeeded on a climb that no one—man or woman—has been able to repeat: the first "free ascent" of the Nose on Yosemite's El Ca ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2002)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Oct 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I bought this book at a presentation by Lynn Hill at a bookstore in Marin County, back in 2002. I remembering shaking Lynn's hand and getting her signature on the book, but somehow I never got motivated to read it until now ... 12 years later. When I finally got started on it, I thought, "Wow, this is GREAT! What took me so long to read this?"

The best part of the book turned out to be Chapter 1 ... Lynn's chilling story of her 72-foot fall in Buoux, southern France (1989) ... which was because
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: woman, adventurers,
Do you ever wonder why a particular person seems so perfectly fitted to the life they lead, congruent with who and what they are? How they seem to flow with the events that surround them, be they “good” or “bad” with an intuitive harmony that appears effortless—and come out the other side for the better? In Climbing Free, Lynn Hill tells the story of her life in such a fashion that the reader gets a sense that tey were the objective observing witness, validating Lynn’s interpretation of events t ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was just wonderful, and so inspiring. Lynn Hill's early days in Yosemite (and with the Stonemasters in Joshua Tree) as many of today's classic routes were climbed or "freed"for the first time, were just a joyous romp to read about. I'll never forget the description of her leading a climb on the Nose in the pitch black, navigating upwards by the flash of a Bic lighter. She's a once in a generation athlete, and yet incredibly modest and humble about her achievements. Great read for any climbe ...more
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: rock climbers!
Lynn Hill is a personal hero of mine, and not just because she is one of the best female rock climbers the world has ever known. She has faced much discrimination based on her gender and size to do something she loves; she never let any of that hold her back. If I could award this book -and it's author- an award it would be a humbleness award. In her extensive climbing career she has performed feats that have yet to be replicated and in the process shown the world that women can climb -competiti ...more
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
an interesting read into the life of Lynn Hill and her climbing life to date. a bit of self analysis as to why she made certain choices in life, along with describing the product of her choices. really enjoyed every page, it was quite the page turner.

in addition to discussing all the right moves, she describes her missteps and why. and also her thought process when overcoming. reading her story, you get to share in the dejections of her past failures. the mental toughness needed to accomplish w
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Awesome climbing book! Makes you want to drop everything and go climb around the world!
Emily McKinney
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Lynn Hill is a huge inspiration, to women and to all climbers. She comes off as having such a profound sense of self reflection and honesty. Reading her book was a joy.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really didnt expect this book to be as good as it was. It is probably the best rock climbing biography i have read. Maybe it's because it taught me so much about someone that I knew surprisingly little about. Maybe it's because I miss climbing and what it meant to me. Maybe because I'm competitive sometimes to a fault, and so is the author. Maybe its because she has lived a life that is unrecognizable to the one that I have lived, but somehow rhymes with it a bit. Most likely its because she i ...more
Louise Dexter
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible woman with so many amazing stories to tell. I particularly enjoyed the Yosemite era and her time living in France. The story she starts the book with hit me hard, it's so inspirational that she made a come back to climbing after a near death experience.

Unfortunately now I can never again use my height as an excuse when climbing.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never been so psyched on climbing! I really like Lynn Hill's mindset and approach to climbing and will try to integrate it into my own climbing. I also learned so much about famous Stonemasters, Lynn's personal story, and climbing history that I did not know before. This book was a very engaging read and I could not put it down - it's a perfect combination of interesting stories and analysis/ philosophizing. ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really great autobiography from a humble, record breaking, world winning climber.

Hill does an amazing job of setting the context of the climbing world from when she started in the 70s to now. She introduces the reader to the history of climbing and stops along the way to shine the light on amazing climbers in different time periods.

Unlike other climbing books, where people talk about how hard it was for them to do their life-defining climb, and how great they are for pages and pages, Hill tal
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
There’s no denying Lynn Hill’s incredible skill, she’s a climbing powerhouse across both sexes. In contrast with her immense climbing skill lies her ability to write. Even with a co-author, the book seems more like a list of achievements or recounting of memories factually. It’s missing a soul!

Talk about the blisters on your hands or your legs burning out from exhaustion. Much of the book is spent explaining her love life and while that is part of her life, only one measly chapter is devoted to
Jean Dupenloup
An unbelievably whiny and boorish memoir.

Lynn Hill could have chosen to write about her many astounding accomplishments and adventures: freeing the nose in a day, becoming the only woman to become accepted by the Camp 4 denizens, or even her near-death experience falling 75 feet after forgetting to complete her figure eight knot.

Instead, ninety percent of the book is spent complaining about being unfairly treated on the gym climbing competition circuit, and accusing other competitors of being un
Rob Neyer
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: climbing
This one absolutely grabs you in the introductory chapter, when Hill forgets to tie into her rope and falls 72 feet (and lives, which you presumably know already). The rest of the book is never quite so interesting or exciting, and there's a long chapter about her competitive climbing career that really slows the narrative. But generally it's a good tale well told, as Hill (and presumably her ghostwriter) are good about relating only as many details about specific climbing exploits as necessary. ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book chronicles Lynn Hill’s life of climbing. I was particularly inspired by her physical prowess considering her small stature - size wise we are a perfect match, so I was particularly fascinated to read about her successes in a world where we are bombarded with bigger is better. Although from what I’m learning, for climbing, a lean, strong body is generally favorable over sheer mass - but height is still an advantage in terms of reaching holds. After recently delving into a series of clim ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: climbing
Lynn Hill is a legend and an inspiration. Her outlook on life is awesome, and I love her attitude about overcoming obstacles, especially in climbing. Instead of lamenting that she's short and can't reach holds that taller climbers can, she sees it as an opportunity to work harder, get creative, and use her own approach. I'm about the same height as her, give or take 1/4", and sometimes it can get frustrating that I can't reach things taller climbers can - but I can use my smaller size to my adva ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A well-written, insightful tale of one of the most badass climbers in history. Lynn Hill modestly weaves the story of her own personal and professional growth and accomplishments with engaging and often tragic anecdotes of her fellow climbers and her own close calls. I also appreciated how she addressed the sexism she faced as one of a few female climbers in a time when climbing was seen as a males-only sport. It's not a spoiler to say that she methodically and modestly showed her doubters, and ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved this book and have developed a great admiration for Lynn Hill as an extraordinary athlete, human and role model. She is a great storyteller and comes across as a thoughtful and multifaceted spirit as she recounts her successes and harder times with equal grace and a real sense of honesty. I'm not a climber and still learned so much and appreciated so many things about the book. Just a great read. ...more
Linda Brown
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I saw Lynn Hill at the Banff Film Festival many years ago when I was just getting into climbing. I have always loved climbing and to meet someone whose size did not dictate her amazing ability has always remained with me. The start of the book is certainly nail biting but the rest of her story is interesting. I did find it interesting that she was a gymnast first so had a great base of flexibility and strength to build from. Overall a good book.
Wade Small
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. I had a hard time putting this book down. The narrative weaves together in such a unique way both the athletic and personal tellings of Lynn Hill. I am left with feelings of utmost reverence towards her abilities yes, but even more her character. Truly an example of humility and poise. A most inspiring life tale told in perfect form.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an inspiration. I really admire her ability to know what her limits are. She made it clear she is not interested in pushing the levels of alpine adventures that come to close to risking your life especially since close people to her have died because of it. I feel lucky to be able to have learned outdoor climbing from being at the Gunks, a place with Lynn Hill history written all over it.
Katherine Dose
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an engaging autobiography. Putting events in her own life in the context of climbing history and sharing the stories of the people who inspired her, Lynn has written a bio that’s easy to read, personal and well-balanced.
Elaine Doherty
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lynne is an amazing woman. Strong, breaking boundaries, but grounded and ‘present’ at the same time. This book made me want to get back onto some rock and just climb! A great read of her climbing achievements and her spirit.
Lydia Miller
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Not that it wasn’t an interesting book - it just took me a while to get through it. Lynn Hill is incredible and has set many records and has been a wonderful role model for women in climbing, however, I feel her true enthusiasm and passion wasn’t on display in this memoir.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: climbing
So grateful that this adventurous and down to earth human has chosen to tell some of her grand stories with us. Thanks, Lynn! I love how open she is in the book about what sacrifices she made in her personal life in order to craft a life following adventure.
Craig Randall
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was the best autobiography I've read in several years, it's not so polished and Lynn's philosophy about life is inspiring. There are so many cool stories about early Yosemite climbers and tragic stories about flawed people. Very enjoyable and motivating. ...more
Tash Barnes
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Really inspiring read, especially as a woman it's amazing to relate to the author in this respect which therefore pushes me more so with my own training and goals mireso than reading more books written by males. Lynn is a truly brilliant woman who paved the way in climbing for so many! ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
"It Goes boys"

the formats a little formulaic - but Lynns story is anything but - she rewrote the formula!

enjoyable and you need to know this
Jim Ewing
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A cracking read...what a legend!
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lynn Hill has been one of my heroes since I first started the sport. She broke barriers and faced discrimination head on. This book was a wonderful read for anyone weather you climb or not.
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