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Emily Harrington Q&A – VOLUME 1 – SEPTEMBER, 2006

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Q: First of all, congratulations on winning Serre Chevalier! That’s great!

A: Thanks, I was pretty psyched.

Q: How excited are you about becoming only the fourth American woman to win a comp of this magnitude?

A: I was really excited, but to be honest, I wasn’t completely suprised with myself like I was last year at the World Championships. I had worked so hard and I knew I had it in me to compete well and win.

Q: That 5,800 dollar purse sure doesn’t hurt!

A: Not at all, I didn’t realize the prize purse was that much. It was a nice surprise.

Q: What is it like competing against some of the top female climbers in the world?

A: It was great. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them now that I’ve been competing in Europe more and I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the World Cup scene. It’s not as intense as everyone thinks, I have a great time competing and socializing over there now. Everyone seems psyched and supportive, not cutthroat and ultra-competitive at all.

Q: You always hear about the Euros being super-strong. How strong are they?

A: Um, yeah…I guess they’re strong, but not super-human strong. Don’t get me wrong, they climb hard and do awesome in comps, but I think that a lot of their success in climbing has to do with experience and the fact that they can make climbing their lives. They compete more and train more because they have the support of a team that organizes and funds all their expenses. That takes a lot of stress off of them and allows them to focus on their climbing.

Q: So, you bagged 7pm Show recently. Now the World Cup. What’s next?

A: I’m going to the Arco Rockmaster over Labor Day weekend and I want to climb in Rifle this fall. Maybe get on Tom Foolery.

Q: How is the route-setting different from competitions in the U.S.?

A: It’s a little bit trickier because the walls are different. They have giant volumes and features that you can turn upside-down on and get all these crazy heel hooks and toe hooks. They also have a lot of steep walls, like roofs, that can mix you up like a pretzl if you’re not careful. You get used to it though, and most of the time, the routes look harder from the ground and you realize they’re not so bad once you’re actually climbing.

Q: Have you changed anything in your approach to climbing in the last few years? Why are you climbing so well?

A: I’ve realized that I can do whatever I want with my life and that I shouldn’t be afraid to pursue what I’m passionate about. I was hesitant to go to Europe and compete in World Cups because I thought I would do poorly and make a fool of myself. I was also afraid to try 5.14 because I was intimidated by the idea of it. Once I stopped being intimidated and started having confidence, things started to fall into place. Once I started to believe in my abilities, I also started to want success more and more. I just wanted to get better and to achieve more, so I started to work harder.

Q: Is there really a large gap between male and female climbers anymore? Why isn’t there an open World Cup where the best females and best males face off? I bet there’d be some surprised people by the end of it.

A: I think that would be interesting to see, but I’m not sure how it would turn out. I think that there is definitely a difference between males and females in terms of sheer strength, but that’s not all climbing is about. I think that part of the reason there is not an open world cup is because every other professional sport is separate, and males and females have different strengths and weaknesses, it’s only fair to let them have their respective fields to compete in.

Q: Do you think the coaching you’ve received over the years (Justin Sjong, right?) has helped you become a better climber for competitions?

A: Definitely. I’ve had many talented individuals give me advice and coach me, but they’ve all had very different approaches. I try to take the most important things I’ve learned from everyone and apply it to my climbing because everyone has something different to offer and I think it’s all valuable. For example, Justin taught me to truly love climbing and to be passionate about it; while Robyn Erbesfield taught me how to compete and how to try hard, which has alot to do with the mental aspects of climbing.