Years ago, when I first stumbled upon climbing, I did what most noobs do.. I watched a LOT of climbing videos. I watched them, and re-watched them, over and over again. It’s what I did with my free time.
One of the stories that got my attention was the film “Spice Girl”, showcasing an amazing British crusher Hazel Findlay. In it, Hazel makes a pretty profound statement: “there’s no reason why women climbers can’t be just as bold as the men are.” She says that as the film cuts to her being on a run-out slab pitch on a coast that continues to make my palms sweat to this day. It’s terrifying and nerve wracking, but she makes the whole climb appear effortless. I dare say that I will ever be quite that bold.
I immediately started following her exploits on Instagram, and began absorbing what I could hope to learn from her many accomplishments.
I watched the short documentary of the Australia trip that she and Alex Honnold partnered up for, where one of the points of discussion was a shoulder injury that she was battling. Hazel confessed that the she reluctantly got an MRI and discovered that her rotator cuff has been damaged. Not good.
Then… nothing. I wasn’t seeing many climbing related posts from her. It was almost as though she had just dropped off the map. I expect that like most of her fans, she was recovering from a surgical procedure necessary for her to continue kicking ass on a rock wall. Little did I know that she was waging her own internal battle of recovery and rehabilitation.
I randomly stumbled upon a progression video that documents her journey from shoulder surgery to sending 8c (that’s 5.14b to us Americans). It’s well worth the watch.
Seeing her return to crushing was a huge motivator for this piece.
Hazel Finday is a huge inspiration for me as a climber. Her mindset and modesty can be an example for every climber. Especially the climbers among us who focus on ticking numbers or social status. And the best thing is… she’s a woman;)