It was one hell of a year for Brit Hazel Findlay. The petite 24-year-old’s climbs included the second ascent of Chicama, a bold 5.13 in North Wales; Freerider (5.13a, 35 pitches) on El Capitan in just three days; and a 5.13 R trad route in South Africa. Findlay’s near-one-day ascent of Babel, a runout 20-pitch 5.13 in Morocco, was featured in the Reel Rock film Spice Girl. She also did her first 5.14a sport route.
indlay started climbing at 7 and was a multi-time British youth champion. In 2011, she became the first woman to redpoint E9 (runout hard 5.13 by American standards). She also freed her first El Cap route, Golden Gate (5.13a), and in 2012 made the first female free ascent of PreMuir (5.13c/d, 33 pitches), El Cap.
What climber are you most impressed by? “For all-out natural talent and strength, my friend Neil Dyer, who has too much of both. For hard work, tenacity, and talent, Tommy Caldwell, who is ready to try hard at all aspects of climbing, whether it’s ferrying loads to the top of El Cap or holding on to a razor-sharp granite crystal until his fingers bleed. As for who I’m most inspired by, I’d have to say the Belgian boys, Sean Villanueva and Nico Favresse, who are the best because they’re the climbers having the most fun.”
More Golden Pitons:
Look for the full Golden Pitons feature story, including dozens more climbs and climbers, in our February issue (Climbing 322).