Hazel Findlay Sends Magic Line 5.14c Trad in Yosemite
She's only the third climber to redpoint the finger crack
Hazel Findlay has redpointed Ron Kauk’s Magic Line, a 35-metre 5.14c finger crack at Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. After one month of projecting, she climbed it on her final day before leaving the Valley for the season.
Findlay’s ascent is only the second redpoint after Ron’s son Lonnie Kauk made the first placing gear on lead in November 2018. Ron’s 1996 first ascent was a pinkpoint with the gear having already been placed. “To give you an idea of how hard this route was for me,” said Findlay on Instagram, “the lower boulder crux is the hardest boulder problem I’ve ever done.”
Originally graded 5.14b, Lonnie upgraded the line to 5.14c last year after climbing it while placing gear. Findlay worked the moves last year after Lonnie’s first redpoint and planned to return this fall after a year of training.
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Well I‘m pleased as punch. ☺️Gushing and long post to follow… (but feels appropriate). Today I climbed Magic Line fourth try of the day, on the last day of the trip with the pressure on and an emotional roller coaster of (more) breaking foot holds, a sore finger, numb feet and wind-blown water from Vernal Falls. But I worked hard for this one. I knew as soon as I tried it very briefly in November 2018 that if I was ever going to climb one very hard (for me) single pitch this would be it. Just because it was so beautiful to look at, so fun to move upwards on and in such a magical place. So I trained properly with the help of @davidmason85 all summer and I committed myself to these 35 metres for the whole valley season. It was stressful getting heartbreakingly close twice but in reality doing it on the last day of the trip meant that this route was the perfect challenge for me, testing me right to the end. To give you an idea of how hard this route was for me – the lower boulder crux is the hardest boulder problem I’ve ever done. Of course it’s nice to bask in send-glory but really the process is where I’ll take the value from and there’s no chance this route hasn’t made me a better climber/person. Thanks to the Kauks for inspiring me especially Lonnie (who I think has done the route 4 times now 🤯) and all the valley friends this year who’ve spectated or participated in this process and supported me along the way especially @madeleine_cope @angus.kille @babsizangerl (lucky belay) @jacopolarcher @sandy.russellc @keenantakahashi 📸 photo: @eliza_earle @blackdiamond @lasportivagram @seatosummitgear
Findlay has sent a number of hard single-pitch trad routes this year, including Conception, a 5.13 crack in Indian Creek. Elsewhere in Yosemite, she’s freed Freerider, Salathe Wall, Golden Gate and Pre-Muir, making her one of the top Yosemite free climbers of her generation.
Lonnie has spent the past 15 years repeating his dad’s routes and has climbed Magic Line at least four times. In a 2012 interview by Findlay with UKClimbing, Lonnie talked about his life in the world of climbing:
I think its cool to have a father like him and what he has accomplished in Yosemite with climbing but he didn’t push me to climb at all, or be what I am today. I just sat back and watched the time go by, in middle school I was dreaming, ‘should I be a pro skateboarder or snowboarder?’ But I never thought to be a climber because I didn’t know anything about it other than what I had seen as a kid. We saw dad climb on the videos like Masters of Stone, he was more like a dissident hero.
When I found climbing for myself, I felt something inside; it felt like it was in my blood to do this. Whether it’s hard climbing or not, it’s in my soul and I can feel it every time I go climbing. Now I’ve climbed a bunch of his routes like Crossroads, 13d, Peace, 13c, Sacred Fire, 13a, Thriller, V10, Midnight Lightning, V8. Pretty cool to think that when I was growing up I was looking at photos of all these routes and I wasn’t even climbing at the time.
Magice Line is one of the hardest single-pitch trad routes in the world, the other being Meltdown 5.14+, also in Yosemite. Meltdown was equipped by Ron Kauk, freed by Beth Rodden and only repeated by Carlo Traversi in 2018.