Brette Harrington is an all-round mountain athlete. An expert on skis, rock and mixed terrain she is a master trad climber, free soloist and alpinist. Increasingly known for her impressive mountain first ascents, Brette is a member of a cohort of young athletes at the top of the game in several climbing disciplines. So much so, she was named one of the top women to watch in sport by Forbes Magazine in 2017.
Born in California in 1992, Brette grew up on the shores of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. With her skier parents, Brette was on the slopes at the age of two and started competing in slalom skiing aged five. In 2008 Brette moved to New Hampshire to attend boarding school and joined the school climbing team through which she started to climb both outdoors at New Hampshire crags like Catherdral Ledges, White Horse and Rumney, and to compete indoors.
In 2010 Brette enrolled at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Initially, Brette continued to ski competitively but following an accident in which she broke her neck when she was 20 she decided to shift her attention to backcountry skiing and climbing around Squamish. It was during her years in Squamish that her climbing skyrocketed.
“I lived in Squamish and commuted to Vancouver for school,” says Brette. “During this time I climbed as much as possible around Squamish, then Marc-André and I would go alpine climbing on weekends. Through alpine climbing I learned about soloing. Together the two of us soloed many mountains. We also went on separate solo adventures, but would meet at the summit, or back at the base afterwards. After learning more about the soloing headspace from mountain climbing I eased into free soling on the Chief and around Squamish”.
The summer before she graduated Brette demonstrated her climbing finesse on technical and committing lines around Squamish, including the second female ascent of the The Shadow (5.13a) and the first ascent of the mixed line Vanguardia (5.12+). She also made short work of multi- and single-pitch trad test pieces in the U.S., such as Silverback (5.12+) in Zion, Astroman (5.11c) in Yosemite, The Optimator (5.13b) in Indian Creek and Solar Flare (5.12d) on the Incredible Hulk.