Top climber survives 'wild sideways fall' off Yosemite's El Capitan

Elisha Fieldstadt

Professional climber Emily Harrington, who was hospitalized with cuts and scrapes after a fall while scaling Yosemite's 3,200-foot El Capitan on Sunday, said she's going to be OK.

Harrington, a U.S. national champion in sport climbing, posted on Instagram from a Fresno, California, hospital Tuesday that she had an accident and got "banged up."

"Not much to say except I took a bad fall and pin balled a bit then somehow hit the rope w my neck," Harrington wrote. The post included a picture of her scraped face and another of a long horizontal bruise across her neck.

Harrington, 33, told "Today" after leaving the Community Regional Medical Center that "I actually feel better than I thought I would."

She said she "lost consciousness for a period of time" after the "wild sideways fall," but eventually "could feel my fingers and toes, so I kind of knew that things were not super, super, super serious."

In her Instagram post, Harrington, a five-time U.S. sport climbing champion, thanked fellow climbers, including her boyfriend, Adrian Ballinger, and Alex Honnold, who is the first person to climb El Capitan without a rope or harness and the subject of the 2018 Academy Award-winning documentary "Free Solo."

She also thanked Yosemite Search and Rescue. Harrington, who lives in Squaw Valley, California, has previously free-climbed the challenging El Capitan in six days, according to The North Face, which sponsors her.

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She has also summited Everest, speed-climbed and skied down Cho Oyu on the China–Nepal border and climbed many other high-altitude peaks around the world.

Ballinger, Harrington's boyfriend, wrote on Instagram that when she fell, "the scene was all dread."

"The most important person in my world crumpled on a ledge after a big fall in below freezing temperatures with real injuries and a lot of reasons to suspect spinal injury," he wrote. But Honnold said he kept Harrington calm and conscious until Yosemite Search and Rescue arrived on scene within an hour and a half, and paramedics were able to clear her of "spinal injury despite some gnarly wounds."

Ballinger said Harrington "dealt with the pain, helped where she could, and stayed positive throughout."

"Em and her blood stained earrings and new neck tattoo will be back in the vertical world soon," Ballinger wrote.

Harrington chalked up her "accident" to being a lesson she will learn from.

"I just hope that people can kinda take away a little inspiration in that message in whatever they're struggling with in their lives," she told "Today."