The first of our exclusive stories comes from Hazel Findlay, one of Britain’s leading trad climbers. She began climbing on the sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire with her father when she was seven years old, and went on to be the first female British climber to climb E9, and the first to climb a sport 8c/5.14b. She also has numerous first ascents to her name in the UK, Italy and USA.
We caught up with Hazel to find out her proudest achievement over the last 12 months – free climbing the Salathé Wall (a 3000-foot route on El Capitan in Yosemite valley).
Personal celebration: free climbing the Salathé.
I’d always seen photos of that crack headwall pitch and thought how amazing it would feel to be there, how iconic the route is and how much air would be between you and the ground.
Growing up in the UK I didn’t have access to many cracks so it took me some time to feel acquainted with this strange technique of jamming.
It felt amazing to free this pitch on the top of El Capitan when ten years ago I couldn’t even hand jam.”