Home > Profiles

Lynn Hill and that Classic Wedding Photo at the Gunks

She was a leading climber at the popular crag in the 1980s

As the world watches the Royal Wedding in the U.K., us climbers can look back at one of the most memorable in the climbing world. That time Lynn Hill and Russ Raffa were married hanging around at the Shawgunks in New York.

In her book, Hill states that the cliff shots were just for fun and the real wedding took place elsewhere on Oct. 22, 1988. Their marriage ended in the early 1990s, but still, the below image is iconic and a reminder that Hill was a leading climber in North America for decades.

Hill met fellow Gunks climber Raffa on her first trip to New York and by 1984 he had become “her constant companion.”

Lynn Hill and Russ Raffa

That same year, Hill made an onsight first ascent of Yellow Crack 5.12c and sent Vandals 5.13a at the Gunks. Vandals, first freed by Jeff Gruenberg, was the most difficult route on the East Coast at the time and the area’s first climb of its grade.

Her lead of Yellow Crack was a dangerous lead and Ruffa, who worked for Patagonia at the time, said, “It was one of the boldest leads I’ve ever seen. “I had tried leading it. I knew you had to totally commit to doing the moves, otherwise the chance of surviving would be minimal. Those are the moments that really stand out—when you see someone totally on the edge.”

Soon after their wedding, Hill made the first free ascent of Running Man 5.13d at the Gunks. They broke up in the early 1990s before Hill went on to make the first free ascent of The Nose 5.14 on El Cap and go down as one of the best climbers ever.

Lynn Hill on Vandals 5.13 in 1984