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A 10-year-old girl just climbed one of the most challenging peaks in the world

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SAN FRANCISCO – A 10-year-old Colorado girl scaled Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan and may have become the youngest person to climb one of the most celebrated and challenging peaks in the world.

Selah Schneiter of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, completed the 3,000-foot (910 meters) climb of the vertical rock formation with the help of her father, Mike Schneiter, and family friend, Mark Regier.

The trio took five days to climb the Nose – the best known route – and reached the summit on June 12, Mike Schneiter said. It typically takes accomplished climbers four or five days to complete.

Reaching the top “was really overwhelming and emotional,” Selah said in a telephone interview from New York City, where she spent Wednesday doing media interviews.

“I was also kind of sad because it was over,” she added.

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Scott Cory climbed the Nose twice in 2001, when he was 11. That same year 13-year-old Tori Allen also climbed it, according to Outside Magazine.

Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said the park doesn’t keep such records.

The oldest of four children, Selah has been climbing since she can remember and had been asking her parents for years to climb El Capitan. For nine months, she prepared physically and mentally to make sure she was ready to do it, she said.

Climbers jam hands and feet into finger- and fist-width cracks to inch their way up the vertical wall. Sometimes there is little more to grasp or perch on than a sliver the width of a few coins.

Other cracks abruptly end in a smooth sea of granite, forcing climbers to swing left or right to find the next hand or foothold.

“Our big motto was ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ Small bites,” said Selah, who recently finished fourth grade. “One pitch at a time … one move at a time … one day at a time.”

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Selah said the only thing she feared was the possibility of a big storm because it would mean “having to go down.”

The Schneiters are a family of climbers. Mike and his wife, Joy, fell in love 15 years ago while scaling El Capitan. They vacation in places where there is rock climbing and have a climbing wall in their garage, often the first spot their children go after school.

Mike Schneiter, a climbing guide and part-time high school teacher, said seeing his daughter complete her dream was amazing.

“I was so proud of her. It was a combination of a lot of feelings because it was a project that had been formed in our minds for a few years,” he said.

Joy Schneiter stayed home with their three other children and received daily updates about progress in Yosemite.

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She knew her husband would turn back if there were any safety concerns. Still, as an experience climber, she said she understands the grit and determination it takes to climb the massive granite slab and worried about Selah’s endurance.

“I was worried she would wear out,” Joy Schneiter said. “But by day four I knew they would finish. I’m just really proud and ecstatic.”

To celebrate her feat, Selah wanted to jump in a nearby river to cool off and go get pizza, her father said.

“We got pizza and ice cream – chocolate with caramel sauce and cherries,” she said.

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  • Visitors photograph El Capitan through a thin veil of smoke after Yosemite Valley reopened Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Yosemite National Park, Calif. The park reopened its scenic valley Tuesday after a nearly three-week closure due to nearby wildfires but advised visitors to expect some smoke in the air and limited lodging and food services in the popular California park. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP) ORG XMIT: CAFRE5011 of 10
  • Tourists like Marijn and Monique Post and Tim and Nadine Robbins look at Pohono Bridge, though smoky and hazy, in Yosemite National Park during its reopening day in California, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The nearly three-week closure was the result of a wildfire. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1102 of 10
  • Tourists ride through a smoky and hazy vista from Tunnel View as Yosemite National Park reopens in California, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The nearly three-week closure was the result of a wildfire. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1083 of 10
  • A fire helicopter takes off through smoke rising to make a drop on active fires in Yosemite National Park after the park reopened after a three week closure from smoke and fires that led to most tourists canceling their trips Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Yosemite, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1054 of 10
  • Mohammed Alsekhan and Ann-Cathrin Riepe take in a moment for a photo even though the famed Tunnel View vista in Yosemite National Park is blocked by a smoke screen from existing fires as the park reopened after a three week closure from smoke and fires that led to most tourists canceling their trips, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Yosemite, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1125 of 10
  • Park Ranger Alex Martinez passes maps out and directs visitors at the Highway 140 gate as Yosemite National Park reopens in California, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The nearly three-week closure was the result of a wildfire. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1076 of 10
  • Sam Bee takes some photos through the smoke from a wildfire in remote areas as he and others were at the famous Tunnel View vista in Yosemite National Park during its reopening day in California, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. The nearly three-week closure was the result of a wildfire. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1117 of 10
  • From left to right, Arvin, Lisa and Nathasja Lammers watch the activity in the sky, as helicopters fly in and out to put out fires in Yosemite National Park which reopened after a three week closure from smoke and fires that led to most tourists canceling their trips Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Yosemite, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1048 of 10
  • Park Ranger Anne Simmons passes maps out and directs visitors at the Hwy 140 gate as Yosemite National Park reopens after a three week closure from smoke and fires that led to most tourists canceling their trips Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Yosemite, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK1019 of 10
  • From left to right, Mitsuhiro and Misae from Japan, and son, Mits Nakanura, deal with the heavy smoke while viewing the famed Tunnel View vista in Yosemite National Park as the park reopened after a three week closure from smoke and fires that led to most tourists canceling their trips Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018 in Yosemite, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) ORG XMIT: CAGK11310 of 10

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