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A 19-Year-Old Climber Takes On The Notorious 'La Rambla'


And now to a new milestone. In February, 19-year-old Margo Hayes set out to climb a sheer rock face in Spain known as La Rambla.

MARGO HAYES: La Rambla's absolutely beautiful. It's a really long climb, and the rock is stunning. And when the sun is on it, it's - it just shines.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When she reached the top, she became the first woman ever to climb a route that difficult. If you know something about rock climbing, it's rated 5.15a. I asked Hayes what it's like to stare up from the base of that cliff.

HAYES: I've always liked the feeling of the butterflies, and that's definitely the feeling that I had when I'd stand at the bottom and look up. It's humbling to be in front of something like that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you were young, what was it that drew you to climbing?

HAYES: I've always liked challenges, and I've always liked puzzles. And climbing is a kind of - a combination of the two. I like to push my limits physically, and also mentally. I love climbing, especially really long routes, because I think concentration and determination really come into play. And also, physically, when I was a kid, I just couldn't sit still.


HAYES: I was a gymnast, and then rock climbing was just another way that I could get out that energy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell me how it's like a puzzle, for people who may not have rock climbed.

HAYES: Even before you hop on the wall, you try and figure out your plan. For me, I always come up with a plan A and a plan B. So basically, you say OK, I think I want to go here. This is how I think I'll do this movement, et cetera. And sometimes when you get on the wall, you realize that your plan isn't going to work, and you have to change it right there on the spot.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Was there any moment in this climb, this historic climb, that you thought, oh, I might not make it?

HAYES: You know, I fell on the - I fell on the climb, I believe, 16 times before I completed it on my 17th try. I tried the climb for seven days total. And failure is just part of climbing and part of anything in life really. And I definitely experienced some moments of doubts because I think that's natural. But I try and remain positive and set my expectation. I went there setting my expectation as sending the climb.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Margo Hayes, champion rock climber, thanks so much for being with us.

HAYES: Thank you so much, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.