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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Autobiography
This is one of the very best climbing autobiographies I've read.
6 Stars.
First off, I'll admit that I'm biased towards Lynn Hill. I met her in the early 80's and was taken by her unassuming, humble nature, let alone her incredible climbing prowess. But my bias has not interfered with my ability to give an honest review.
This book was co-authored by Greg...
Published on May 10, 2002 by Mad Dog

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3.0 out of 5 stars Climbing Free by Lynn Hill
Climbing books could be so much more interesting if they went deeper into the personal reasons for climbing, the difficulties of peeing on a multi day climb, even a description of how to tie a knot or deal with blisters, otherwise they are mostly quite boring accounts of superb achievements by mediocre writers. Hill's climbs could be a walk down the high street for all...
Published 5 months ago by Dumpy


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Autobiography, May 10, 2002
This is one of the very best climbing autobiographies I've read.
6 Stars.
First off, I'll admit that I'm biased towards Lynn Hill. I met her in the early 80's and was taken by her unassuming, humble nature, let alone her incredible climbing prowess. But my bias has not interfered with my ability to give an honest review.
This book was co-authored by Greg Child, one of my favorite climbing authors, but I'm guessing that Lynn's words formed the core of the book. It just doesn't read like Greg's other books. Regardless, the two must have an excellent synergy going because the book is enjoyable and very readable.
As do all good autobiographies, this book goes well beyond the boring chronological list of events. It takes you into the life and mind of Lynn Hill and lets you see what makes her tick. Lynn chose to treat difficult situations in a straightforward, honest manner. Few punches are pulled, but it's obvious that there is no malicious intent. Lynn merely states the facts as she saw them, then goes the extra mile to tell us how these events made her feel. In doing so, difficult times, such as divorce or leaving the competitive arena are taken full circle and we see how, through her ability to adapt, Lynn was able to move on and grow from her experiences.
One knows that people who repeatedly achieve at a high level have something good going for them and this book makes it clear that Lynn is no exception. Her ability to get into the proper mental state for difficult climbing is clearly conveyed. For example, while preparing to climb the Nose in a day, she wrote:
"While lying on the ledge in a half-asleep state, I thought about the various people who inspired me throughout my life. These thoughts helped me cultivate the faith and energy I needed to persevere. For me, the ascent represented a kind of performance art to demonstrate the values I believed in. My belief in this effort is what allowed me to access a force of energy much greater than my own. I thought of what I had learned from a seventy year old Chinese Chi Gong master whom I had met in France earlier that year during a martial arts workshop. At the end of the weekend, this Chinese master asked me to arm wrestle him. As hard as I tried, our hands remained upright and locked in an impasse. Then he asked me what I was thinking about. I told him I was concentrating on bringing my hand down to the table. When I asked him what he was thinking about, he said he was focusing way beyond the table, toward an infinite source of energy. I noticed that his eyes were transfixed into space as if in a trance and I felt an inpenetrable wall of force in his arm. Afterward, we discussed my goal to free climb the Nose in a day and he said: 'When you are on the wall, try to imagine a source of energy that extends beyond the summit towards infinity.' "
This book is full of motivational insight and should be a valuable resource for anyone that wants to move beyond preconceived limits in their everyday life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings, August 22, 2002
By 
"scotbswan" (Bettendorf, IA United States) - See all my reviews
I just finished reading the book early this morning. I picked it up because I used to do very mild climbing (5.7 range). I'm sure I don't even SEE the holds Lynn works with. In brief, she seems to do the best of climbs in the best of style.
In the book, she makes her climbing preferences known without trying to define "the way, the truth and the light" for all climbers. I think the same held true for her descriptions of people with whom she had climbed. What I most appreciated was her love for climbing without any need for being "extreme." No death wish, no search for a new adrenaline rush. Lynn seems to seek challenge but not danger per se. The non-climbing public seems to think that all climbers enjoy flirting with death. Lynn is not naive about the potential of danger; in fact, her words show a great understanding. Again, she just wants to climb the hard routes because they are hard. The danger is simply an issue to be dealt with, not an end in itself.
I was just a touch dissatisfied at the end. The final pages seemed to end rather abruptly. However, given that this book is not a work of fiction, but rather a description of a developing life, maybe that's as it should be. Lynn is still climbing, still changing. There are more chapters to be written.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must read for climbing Enthusiasts, August 16, 2002
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As a novice climber and avid reader I try to read most climbing novels. This book will definitely please climbers as it covers this climbing legend's life from how she got into climbing, to her experiences growing up as a climber in Yosemite, to her triumphs in competitive climbing.
But it also covers much more like the problems a female must conquer in the male climbing world. Some of my favorite parts were the stories in Yosemite and the many other great climbers she climbed with and the bond they shared. As with every climbing book, if enough climbers are introduced, you will encounter the climbers that are not living when the book is written due to accidents.
This book also delves deeply into who Lynn Hill is. Mainly concerning her relationships, both climbing and romantic, many of which have tragic endings. The book starts by describing her worst fall and clearly demonstrates how lucky she was to survive. But to me the most introspective part of the book is her feelings of high altitude mountaineering. This was not her speciality and the book deals with why she stayed out of this arena and how uncomfortable she was in what high altitude climbing she did.
A true climber's book. I recommend this book if you enjoy rock climbing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life makes sense, February 10, 2012
By 
mark jabbour (Westminster, Colorado) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Climbing Free (Paperback)
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 that shaped and influenced her life and decisions.

Lynn Hill's life story makes sense. And as such, it must be counted as a good life. This is not to say that tragedy and heartache don't weave and intertwine with all the triumphs and accomplishments, for they do, both personally and professionally. This is an inspirational story of a woman who is guided by an inner wisdom and follows it--despite its non-traditional, non-conformist direction. Ms Hill makes decisions based on her intuitive knowing of herself, and ultimately these turn out to be the `right' choices.

For the rock climber and adventurer, there is plenty of technical and adrenaline pumping anecdotes. The reader is also given insight into that peculiar sub-culture of the thrill and adventure seeker. Hill, while acknowledging her affiliation and connection to the climbing community, distinguishes her motivation from that of many of her colleagues who seem addicted to the rush, or driven by demons that they are unwilling to look at. Hill, on the other hand, seems to relish her introspection and understanding of herself. She understands why she climbs and truly loves it for its own sake.

Climbing free is an entertaining, page turning story of a woman's journey through life. All the more exciting because it's real. I am looking forward to Lynn Hill's next reflection.

Winter 2002
Winter 2012 - Lynn?
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It isn't just about dangling from rocks!, April 22, 2003
This review is from: Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (Paperback)
As we travel through life the people we meet and the experiences we share are every bit as important as the mountains we climb. Lynn Hill has expressed this philosophy quite well in Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World.
Lynn's story is a life adventure, not just a dangling from rocks, but an embrace of people and places, a reflection of her experiences, the rock wall challenges she has met and over come as well as the romances which have blessed and graced her life along the way.
I did not read Climbing Free to learn how to climb, to seek advice on free style climbing or even to learn about some of the best, most exotic places to climb. Nor did I read Climbing Free to glimpse what it is like to hang from a towering granite pillar, a crack and a cranny, a slip and a slide away from death. I read Climbing Free simply for the enjoyment of sharing another person's life adventure.
I think if Climbing Free is read in this light it is a joyous experience, one which will add to the reader's own life, for after all, we are the summation of all our experiences, those we have in the real world as well as those we relish from the books we read or movies we watch. Climbing Free is just that, a climbing free experience for the reader. But to enjoy it fully you have to enter without preconception or expectation, and just delight in sharing Lynn Hill's tale.
Of course in writing this review and giving Lynn Hill's book a five star rating I must admit I'm a bit prejudice. Although I haven't ever met Lynn, she just had a child, Owen Merced Lynch, fathered by Bradley Wayne Lynch, my dear nephew and a pretty good rock climber himself. I'm sure if Lynn writes a sequel to Climbing Free its adventures will include Bran and Owen. For you see, Climbing Free just isn't about dangling from rocks. It's about life and the people we meet along the way through life. It isn't perfect. It isn't without mistakes or wrong turns. It is a mix of exhilaration and tragedy, of wonder and the finding of one's self through the journeys Lynn has taken with her freinds upon granite walls and spires around the globe. It's about finding your way and moving on until low and behold you find yourself by the Merced River at the foot of Half Dome conceiving a child!
The problem, I think, with some people who have read and reviewed Climbing Free is that they were looking themselves for love and didn't find it, thus reflecting the bitterness in their own failures. Or they suffered a few falls themselves with sharp knocks to the skull; or maybe damaged their brains smoking this or that peculiar mix of substances while in an oxygen starved environment at over 14,000 feet high! In fact, I suspect this to be true as I've sat among climbers and listened to their lore. Much of it is petered out muse not worth the lead fillings in an old nag's teeth.
In contrast Climbing Free is a masterpiece in the making, the start of a canvas, the first few brush strokes of a woman's adventure through life. Quite frankly I can't wait to see what will follow, especially when Lynn and Brad get little Owen to Yosemite!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Climbing Free by Lynn Hill, March 15, 2014
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This review is from: Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (Paperback)
Climbing books could be so much more interesting if they went deeper into the personal reasons for climbing, the difficulties of peeing on a multi day climb, even a description of how to tie a knot or deal with blisters, otherwise they are mostly quite boring accounts of superb achievements by mediocre writers. Hill's climbs could be a walk down the high street for all the tension that arises when reading the descriptions of them. Cold control is needed for her success as a climber but not as a writer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nice to read about history of climbing, but writing is not so good, December 30, 2013
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This review is from: Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (Paperback)
This book is nice in that it provides a nice overview of climbing history and of course, Lynn Hill's climbing life. Two things that bothered me: (1) she writes many climbing stories that did not actually happen to her, and appear elsewhere, and I'm not sure this incorporation of other people's stories is done well.
(2) she kept writing throughout the book how a major climbing accident led to her reflection on her life. She wrote she felt selfish, concentrating on herself having fun (or something along these lines). However, at no point in the book it seems like she changes anything about the way she does things. She may have, but it does not appear in the text, and it is bothersome for the reader.

Also, I did not finish the book since it became boring at the end, a repetition of "and then I wanted to climb this type of cliffs and I found this opportunity to do so".

It was a nice read for the most of it, it just that I was left remembering the negative stuff.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great insight into the history of climbing and also the lifestyle, January 16, 2012
By 
Wayfarista (Santa Barbara) - See all my reviews
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I greatly enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down! The first chapter was hard to get through as it over-explained climbing terms and descriptions of gear as if written for the complete lay person. However, once you get past the trite intro, the book (or I guess I should say Lynn) really opens up and the walls come down. This book weaves the history of climbing from the 70's-present with fascinating stories of Lynn's family and her life experiences in more than just climging; in love, in friendships, and business. Sometimes when you see a person so successful, in control, and put-together as Lynn you can falsely assume everything has been easy for them...this book really reminds you about the trials and tribulations of life in general and especially that of the lives of devoted climbers. Very insightful and inspiring!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A True Cliffhanger!, September 14, 2011
By 
NewsGirl (Northville, MI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (Paperback)
As a former and now armchair rock climber, I could not put this book down. It put me right back on the rock and I enjoyed every harrowing minute of it! Lynn Hill does a great job of weaving in simple descriptions of rock climbing gear and technique that will not bore experienced climbers yet are very informative to beginners or people who haven't climbed at all. I feel like I could lead a pitch after reading about her early exploits in Yosemite and J-Tree.
For avid climbers, Hill's vignettes reveal beta on some of the world's most difficult climbs, from the famous to the obscure.
Her courage, commitment and achievements are empowering and I have thought of her many times as I have taken on difficult tasks in every day life.
I also enjoyed her personal reflections on what it takes to be a great athlete, what she loves about climbing, and drawing limits to minimize the danger of the sport. The book often focuses on the stories of other climbers and climbing history as well, and recommends many other climbing books for further reading.
All in all, a true inspiration.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the book!, July 7, 2010
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This review is from: Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World (Paperback)
Lynnie, now that I know you better I feel closer to you. Closer to my climbing journey. Thank you for that.
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Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World
Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World by Lynn Hill (Paperback - May 17, 2003)
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