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Meet North Tahoe Local Luminaries, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington

Published on: September 2017

World-class Mountaineers and Global Adventurers

Just over five years ago, Emily Harrington boarded a plane to North Lake Tahoe for a two-week date with Adrian Ballinger. They rock climbed and road tripped through the east side of the Sierra and they’ve been charging forward as a global adventure power couple ever since. It didn’t take long for Harrington to relocate from her hometown of Boulder, CO and now the couple resides in Squaw Valley when they are not off exploring the globe.

Ballinger is best known for his multiple trips to Mt. Everest, recently summiting the mountain without supplemental oxygen. He owns and operates Alpenglow Expeditions, which specializes in teaching mountaineering skills in addition to guiding international tours. Harrington is a professional rock climber who has been a prominent and leading figure in the climbing community since she was a teenager. She has completed numerous first female ascents and focuses primarily on big wall free climbs and high altitude peaks.

One of the biggest ascents these North Tahoe mountaineers achieved was Cho Oyu, the sixth tallest mountain in the world. Adrian and Emily completed their climb in four days (previously, no one had ever climbed an 8,000-meter peak in less than a month) and instead of heading back down by foot, they strapped on skis and carved down Cho Oyu with expert skill.

While their outdoor exploits are nearly unmatched, like many they take comfort in the simplicities of home: a familiar trail run, window view and recognizable barista. Their community is tight-knit and supportive, comprised of legendary local athletes and fellow adventurers. Their combined love of elevation returns home with them as they train, play and explore in their own beautiful backyard. Nothing is off-limits to this extremely likeable, down-to-earth couple.  In one perfect Tahoe day, Ballinger and Harrington will discover an unknown swimming hole, scale granite cliffs, run across waterfalls and rock paths, and typically end with a dive in the refreshing water of an alpine lake.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the adventures, travels and outdoor pursuits of Adrian and Emily from their home in North Lake Tahoe to the summit of Mount Everest, and everything in between:

On top of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world at 26,864 ft above sea level.

At camp on Cho Oyu.

Spending time in their tent on Cho Oyu.

Adrian on his way up Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Adrian and Emily proudly showing their summit stoke.

Camping on a portaledge while climbing a multi-pitch route.

Adrian and Emily spending a fun day wake surfing on Lake Tahoe.

Stay Tuned: Q&A: A Guide to Adrian and Emily’s North Shore Stomping Grounds

What is North Lake Tahoe Local Luminaries? 

Local Luminaries: An original video series that examines the lives and passions of North Lake Tahoe locals. This six-episode series features short-film documentaries and corresponding blog content from Local Luminaries. These hand-selected individuals embody the character flavor and eclectic culture of North Lake Tahoe. Viewers can access local tips and lifestyle perspective while also engaging on a deeper level to understand why these individuals purposely choose to call Lake Tahoe home and how the common thread of community keeps them here permanently.