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In 2012 Hazel Findlay had a near-catastrophic fall on the classic Impact Day (E8 6c) at Pavey Ark in the U.K. The line, which roughly translates to bold 5.13, is especially serious close to the ground: a series of long, powerful movements with just one micro-cam placement to avert disaster.
Speaking with UKC after her fall, Findlay said she was lured into leading Impact Day after watching her partners, Neil Mawson and Charlie Woodburn, produce inspiring attempts despite the cold conditions that day. “On top rope I had never fallen off the lower moves, but [my beta] was pretty dynamic on poor feet,” she explained. “But… watching them climb got me psyched and the upper crux moves felt very easy on top rope, so I thought I should just go for it.”
Findlay set up for the first hard moves, some 20 feet above the belay and surrounded by slabs and ledges, and wobbled off. “I had a mental block when I set up for the first hard move,” she told UKC. “I expected it to feel easy. … I think because I had it in my mind that unprotected head points should feel easy. So I think I didn’t try hard enough to get the hold, and then maybe I even tried to reverse the move and then just peeled away from the wall. I hit a ledge … then the small cam I placed also ripped, so I fell past Neil about 6 meters straight onto the belay. It was all slabby below so I sort of scraped down head first. One of the ropes caught on—luckily not around—my neck and the other one went around my leg.”
In a new short film profiling her rematch with Impact Day, Findlay hikes into Pavey Ark on a wet day to sit below the route. Her gaze immediately darts to the place she fell, and she muses, “I don’t understand how I’m not dead.” Perhaps a little wiser than her 24-year-old self, Findlay, recognizing that the long moves above the slab still feel low-percentage, chooses to deke out right onto the opening holds of Lexicon (E11) before traversing back left. “Some might say I failed to ‘Get back on the horse,’ [and] do the same move and not fall,” Findlay later wrote, “but in my mind I got to finish off a classic route without risking my neck!”