Ten years ago, Hazel Findlay became the first woman to climb a British E9 with her ascent of Once Upon A Time In The Southwest, near Devon, U.K. Watch an excerpt from the Reel Rock 8 film Spice Girl below.
This week, Findlay addressed people’s concerns about her not wearing a helmet on the scary climb. She said, “At the time I only considered wearing a helmet for ascents with loose rock that could fall from above. Nowadays I wear my helmet on nearly all trad routes and some sport and I find it shocking that I didn’t wear one on what was quite a serious route. To be honest I’ve never actually hit my head climbing despite having fallen head first for 10 meters down ledgy terrain (without wearing a helmet). However, accidents happen and helmets are so comfortable these days I don’t see a reason not to wear them. I know this is a contentious issue so please be mindful that each of us has a different relationship with risk and that relationship changes a lot over time; as you can see mine has!”
Findlay was the first British woman to free El Cap, which she’s done four times: she made the first female ascent of Golden Gate in 2011, the first female ascent of Pre-Muir Wall in 2012, and an ascent of Freerider in only three days in 2013. In 2017, she free-climbed the Salathé Wall. In Yosemite, she also sent Magic Line 5.14cR trad.
In Canada, she made the first free ascent of Adder Crack 5.13a trad and Tainted Love 5.13dR trad in Squamish. Sport climbing, Findlay’s ticked 5.14+ in a number of countries. She’s a climbing coach and podcast host, be sure to follow her on Instagram below.