A League of Her Own
MIRANDA OAKLEY’S IMPRESSIVE PATH TO BECOME THE FIRST WOMAN TO SOLO THE
AUGUST 5, 2016. Yosemite Valley, California. The thermometer pushes triple digits. The solar oven of El Capitan radiates sunshine while a small dot races up the Nose (VI 5.9 C2), passing Texas Flake, cruising the Boot, nailing the King Swing, and heading through the Gray Bands. Up a pitch, down the same pitch, then back up again, the soloist covers three times the vertical terrain a partnered climber would.
August 6, 2016. Fort Collins, Colorado. I scan Facebook. The glowing screen offers the typical scrollbait. Then, a post from George Oakley, the father of my college buddy Miranda Oakley: “I just found out that Miranda did a solo climb of El Cap in 21 hours, 50 minutes. This broke her old time of just under 27. Way to go, Miranda. I hope you don’t have to work today.”
For the past 27 years, Valley speed climbers have ropesoloed the Nose in a day, but no female had broken the 24hour mark, despite attempts by veterans Jes Meiris, Josie McKee, and Chantel Astorga. Until Miranda.
ON JUNE 21, 1984, Miranda Negla Oakley was born to mother, Arjunia, a special ed teacher and Palestinian immigrant to the United States, and father, George, a music teacher and American. Living in Maryland, the couple had always engaged in social justice issues, and that didn’t stop with the arrival of their first child.
“Miranda went to her first anti- war rally before she could walk,” says Arjunia, who is now an American citizen. “And I took her with me to meetings of the Palestine Aid Society, [ which provides] humanitarian aid for Palestinians.”
For middle and high school, Miranda attended a Quaker Friends School, where she learned the fundamental tenets of Quakerism: pacifism and compassion. Her parents wanted to instill strong values in Miranda. “If you can say that Quakers had a dogma, it would be, ‘Live simply so that others may simply live,’” Arjunia explains.
In 1999, Arjunia took Miranda and her younger