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Two Years After Broken Back, Molly Mitchell Returns and Sends

In 2020, the top trad climber took a ground-fall on a 5.13R/X in Boulder Canyon

Molly Mitchell climbed Crank It, a 5.13+R/X test-piece at Castle Rock in Boulder Canyon this past week. It represents a significant comeback after a serious injury.

On Oct. 1, 2020, she fell from around 10 metres high on Crank It, ripped four pieces of gear and hit the ground. The route is bolted, but she was trying it on gear above a crash pad, which she landed on. Mitchell fractured two vertebrae in her lower back.

After nine weeks in a brace, she was able to start physical activity once again. Now, nearly two years later, she’s returned and redpointed the climb. “I had to come to the realization that I was never going to not be scared,” said Mitchell.

“That was actually a big breakthrough for me. I had to learn to deal with the fear and anxiety and self doubt. I couldn’t avoid it, but I could handle it. To trust that you can handle something even if it’s terrifying is probably the most rewarding experience to me in climbing.”

Crack It was bolted by Pat Adams and first climbed by the legend Jerry Moffatt who graded it 5.14a. Tommy Caldwell downgraded it to 5.13c. It had been climbed on gear in the past.

In 2019, Mitchell became the seventh woman in the world to climb a 5.14 trad route with her send of China Doll 5.14aR, also in Boulder Canyon. Mitchell has been pushing limits for years, and back in 2016 made the first ascents of All Hell Breaks Moose 5.13R, Element X 5.13aX, and Spoiled Moose 5.13R.

“I’m excited to share more of the crazy rollercoaster of a journey in the documentary Cedar Wright has been working on,” said Mitchell.

Spoiled Moose 5.13R FA