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9-Year-Old Mighty Girl Becomes The Youngest Person To Climb Yosemite's El Capitan

Pearl Johnson scaled the 3,000 foot El Capitan over four days and three nights, becoming the youngest person ever to achieve this climbing feat!

After four days and three nights of climbing, 9-year-old Pearl Johnson became the youngest person to scale Yosemite Valley's famed El Capitan! Pearl reached the 3,000-foot summit in mid-September after scaling the Triple Direct climbing route with her mother, Janet Johnson, and a family friend, Nick Sullens. While scaling El Capitan is a major feat for many seasoned adult climbers, her mother was confident that Pearl, who has been climbing since she could walk, could reach the summit. "Someone asked me if I was nervous, and I said 'No,'" she said after their successful climb. "I knew I was comfortable up there. I’ve climbed a lot with Pearl. I knew what she was capable of."

Pearl's parents, Janet and Philip, are both avid climbers, and Pearl has made other big climbs in Yosemite National Park in California, including Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne Meadows at age 6 and Snake Dike on Half Dome at age 8. But the 3,000 foot El Capitan rock formation is a milestone climb, and Pearl wanted to give it a try. She was inspired in part by Alex Honnold, the only climber ever to scale El Capitan without ropes or harnesses; she met Honnold when he stayed next door to the family's home during the filming of the National Geographic documentary Free Solo. "One of my favorite parts of Free Solo was when Alex encountered the guys in the pink bunny suits," Pearl shared in an interview with Outside. That moment influenced her attire for her own climb: "I climbed it in tights covered with cats and donuts."

Pearl set a new record for the youngest person to scale El Capitan just a few short months after 10-year-old Selah Schneiter broke the previous record in June. While Pearl originally planned to climb The Nose route as Selah had, when they arrived and found it crowd, they opted for the Triple Direct route, which is just as long, but less popular. During the climb, Pearl used ascenders to climb the static rope which is used by the team to pull up their equipment. With 35 pitches, the 3,200-foot Grade VI climb is a tremendous challenge of both strength and stamina.

The hardest part of the climb for Pearl, however, wasn't the physical endurance required but managing her fear. "A lot of time was spent overcoming her fear," says Sullens. "Sometimes she would say, 'I want this to be over, this is really scary.' I was impressed with her wanting to keep going. If it were me at nine, I would have wanted to be out of there." It was her determination and drive that allowed her to make it to the top, he says. "I would offer to bail and be down in two hours, and she would say she wanted to be there... She had a desire to pursue the goal. She wanted to climb that mountain."

Books And Toys Celebrating Adventurous Mighty Girls

Brave Enough for Two

Brave Enough for Two

Written by: Jonathan D. Voss
Illustrated by: Jonathan D. Voss
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

Olive and Hoot are the best of friends: Olive is a girl who likes her adventures in books, while Hoot is a stuffed animal who likes real-world excitement. And today, Hoot gets to choose the adventures, which leaves Olive uncertain if she's brave enough for the ideas Hoot comes up with — including flying a makeshift hot air balloon and rafting white-water rivers — but Hoot reminds her that he'll keep her safe. And when Hoot discovers that his adventures have left him a little the worse for wear, Olive realizes that she can "be brave enough for both of us." Kids will love this charming story of friendship and finding your courage.

Girls With Guts!: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records

Girls With Guts!: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records

Written by: Debbie Gonzales
Illustrated by: Rebecca Gibbon
Recommended Age: 6 - 9

Today, girls across the country participate in every kind of sport — but it wasn't that long ago that girls were told that physical activity was "unladylike," inappropriate, or even dangerous. In this inspiring title, young readers will learn about the daring women — both athletes and politicians — who fought for women in sports to be taken seriously. Beginning with the first modern Olympic Games, author Debbie Gonzalez introduces readers to pioneering women like Althea Gibson, Donna de Varona, Gertrude Ederle, and more. Then, she introduces the historic Title IX legislation that mandated equal treatment and changed the rules of the game for female athletes. This sweeping overview of the evolution of women's sports is sure to fascinate young readers who can't imagine not being able to go out and play.

50 Things to Do Before You're 11 3/4

An Outdoor Adventure Handbook

50 Things to Do Before You're 11 3/4

An Outdoor Adventure Handbook

Written by: Nosy Crow
Illustrated by: Tom Percival
Recommended Age: 8 - 12

Let's go outside! This pocket-size companion to the National Trust's hugely successful media campaign contains fifty fantastic activities for kids to explore outdoors. From flying a kite to finding frogspawn to swimming in the sea, there's something here for everyone! It also provides space for you to journal your adventures, with notes, photos, doodles, and more. Inspiring and full of fun, this guide is the perfect way to get kids ready to explore the great outdoors.

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win

Written by: Rachel Ignotofsky
Illustrated by: Rachel Ignotofsky
Recommended Age: 9 and up

In this follow-up to her bestselling book Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World, Rachel Ignotofsky shines a light on trailblazing athletes! From well-known figures like tennis player Billie Jean King and gymnast Simone Biles, to lesser-known champions like Toni Stone, the first woman to play baseball in a professional men's league, and skateboarding pioneer Patti McGee, these stories provide a unique look at groundbreaking female athletes of the past and present. Additional infographics cover fascinating details like a timeline of women's participation in sports, pay and media statistics for female athletes, and influential women's teams.

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women

Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women

Written by: Kate Schatz
Illustrated by: Miriam Klein Stahl
Recommended Age: 10 and up

These girls made an impact on the world — and they did it before they turned 20! Rad Girls Can, the latest volume from the best-selling authors of Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z, introduces kids to girls past and present who made their mark. From famous names like Malala Yousafzai, Anne Frank, and Joan of Arc, to lesser-known figures like Syrian refugee and Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, anti-cyberbullying activist and app designer Trisha Prabhu, and more. As in the other books, each profile is compared with bold cut-paper artwork, and the book wraps up with a reminder that there's one more Rad Girl who can make a difference: you!

The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure

The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure

Written by: Caroline Paul
Illustrated by: Wendy MacNaughton
Recommended Age: 10 and up

When Caroline Paul was a girl, she let fear hold her back from all sorts of adventures she wanted to try. As an adult, she has flown planes, rafted on white water, and become one of San Francisco's first female fire fighters. In her book, she shares stories of daring women from history and from her own journey — and encourages girls to set their own path to adventure. Each section includes a spot for girls to write about their own adventures, as well as confidence-building activities girls can try on their own. This book celebrates all the good things that can come when you assess the risks, take a deep breath, and take that first step.

A World Of Her Own: 24 Amazing Women Explorers and Adventurers

A World Of Her Own: 24 Amazing Women Explorers and Adventurers

Written by: Michael Elsohn Ross
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Women have always pushed their limits and dared to explore the nature world! In this exciting book from the Women of Action series, teens will read about bold women like Rosaly Lopes, whose work for NASA included discovery 71 volcanoes on one of Jupiter's moons; Helen Thayer, the first woman to walk and ski to the Magnetic South Pole alone; and Anna Smith Peck, the pioneering climber who set the record for the highest climb in the Western Hemisphere at the age of 58. With intriguing sidebars setting the stage for these women and their courageous accomplishments, this book will inspire the explorers and adventurers of the future!

A Woman's Place Is At The Top: A Biography of Annie Smith Peck, Queen of the Climbers

A Woman's Place Is At The Top: A Biography of Annie Smith Peck, Queen of the Climbers

Written by: Hannah Kimberley
Recommended Age: Adults

When Annie Smith Peck climbed the Matterhorn in 1895 — at the age of 45 — she didn't win fame for her daring, but because she'd climbed while wearing pants. But the determined suffragist, political activist, and scholar wasn't about to let that stop her from climbing again! Peck became a world-renowned climber, an expert on North and South American relations, and even entered a race to climb Mount Coropuna competing against Hiram Bingham, the inspiration for Indiana Jones. Despite her amazing achievements, few people know her name, but now author Hannah Kimberley has dug into Peck's original letters and artifacts to create a new portrait of this courageous woman who was determined to see her way to the top.

Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure

Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure

Written by: Patricia Ellis Herr

Patricia Ellis Herr’s daughter Alex had so much energy from such a young age that Herr thought she might be able to tackle serious hikes at the age of 5 — not just long ones, but paths that might make adults struggle. Together, the pair climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest mountains — and both mother and daughter learned a few lessons about independence, fearlessness, and daring. As Trish recount their exciting but sometimes nerve-wracking journeys, readers will celebrate the proof "that small doesn't necessarily mean weak; that girls can be strong; and that big, bold things are possible."

Made to Move Rock Climber Doll

Made to Move Rock Climber Doll

Manufacturer: Mattel
Recommended Age: 3 - 10

Nothing can hold this doll back when there are mountains to climb! This doll from Barbie's Made to Move line has 22 "joints" in the neck, upper arms, elbows, wrists, torso, hips, upper legs, knees, and ankles, which allow an incredibly realistic range of movement. She's also ready for a climbing adventure with a backpack, a hiking staff, a trail map, a helmet, a harness, carabiner hooks, a bucket, and cord. For eager young climbers — or would-be climbers — this is the perfect choice to play out the adventure of her dreams.

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