Selah Schneiter and her father spent five days climbing the Nose only to find when they reached the top that Selah had set a record

Ascending El Capitan, a rock formation rising 3,000ft above Yosemite national park, is a daunting task for the most experienced climbers. Selah Schneiter, 10, scaled it before she entered fifth grade.

Selah became the youngest person known to have achieved the feat on 12 June.

Selah was no stranger to El Capitan: the site, her father said, was in her blood. Mike, a climbing guide, brought his daughter there when she was two months old though she wasnt quite ready to make the ascent.

Selah Schneiter, two months old, at the site of her future ascent. Photograph: Courtesy Mike Schneiter

El Capitan was the first place Mike and Selahs mother, Joy, climbed together. In the process, they fell in love and years later, it was there that they decided to have kids, fantasizing about climbing the formation with their own children someday. I had no idea it would happen so fast, Mike said.

Selahs achievement led to a flurry of media attention and TV appearances in New York. I live in a town with a population of about 9,000 in Colorado, she told the Guardian. It can be difficult to switch to the big city.

The climb itself, however, was less intimidating. The only thing I ever got scared of was what would happen if I didnt do this, Selah said. Her determination outweighed any fear. I took a deep breath and I thought: what does this mean to me? Am I gonna bail or am I not gonna bail? Im gonna make that decision.

Selah, Mike, and his friend Mark Regier didnt rush their way to the top, Mike said. They spent five days on the ascent, taking long lunch breaks and starting late, by Mikes standards a relaxed 6.30 or 7am. Selah made her way up the route a particularly challenging pathway known as the Nose primarily by jumaring, or climbing with assistance from a rope and other gear. (Only a handful of people have ever made the ascent via free climbing, in which the climber uses hands and feet while attached to a rope purely for protection.)

Mike and Selah Schneiter slept on a portaledge during their five-day climb. Photograph: Mark Regier/AP

At night, father and daughter slept on a portaledge, a tent-like device for multi-day climbs. Images from the ascent are head-spinning, but as a climbing guide, you definitely have a mindset of being really in tune with the dangers and the risks that youre faced with, Mike said. Oddly, we never felt really in danger at any point. We felt really comfortable up there.

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When they finally reached the top, they received a surprising text from Joy, Mike said. A friend at Outside Magazine, which reported the climb, had investigated the matter and identified Selah as the youngest to have scaled El Capitan.

Selah Schneiter scaling El Capitan. You look up a lot more than you look down, she said. Photograph: Courtesy Mike Schneiter

The family had been vaguely aware that she was among the youngest climbers, but beforehand, Mike had cautioned against focusing on setting any records. Dont even look it up, he told his companions. We dont want that to be our motivation.

With her success behind her, Selah has wise words for anyone facing a difficult climb of their own real or metaphorical. If you have a big goal, its really hard to attack it all at once. You have to do it piece by piece. Take that big goal and make it into a bunch of small goals.

And though the heights may be dizzying, remember: You look up a lot more than you look down.



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