Magic Line - 8c+ Trad by Hazel Findlay

Hazel Findlay has repeated Ron Kauk's highly aesthetic Magic Line 8c+ (5.14c) 35m finger crack line at Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park. After one month of sessions working the line, Hazel ticked her project on her last day before leaving the Valley. Hazel's ascent is only the second redpoint ascent after Ron's son Lonnie Kauk made the first ascent placing gear on lead in November 2018. Ron's 1996 ascent was made using pre-placed gear, also known as a pinkpoint ascent.

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

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Originally graded 5.14b, Lonnie upgraded the line to 5.14c last year, which translates to 8c+ sport climbing on gear, or around E10 in British trad grading. Hazel worked the moves last November following Lonnie's first redpoint ascent, and planned a return after a year of dedicated training to attempt the line with Maddy Cope. Despite a finger injury and breaking footholds - of which there are few - Hazel managed to time her ascent to perfection. On Instagram, she wrote:

'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.'

In 2012, Hazel interviewed Lonnie about his father's iconic climbs, Magic Line and his ancestral ties to Yosemite as a descendent of the native Ahwahneechee tribe for a UKC article.

This year, Hazel has worked her way through some of the USA's hardest single-pitch - or extended pitch - crack lines, ticking the 70m splitter crack Concepcion 5.13 in Moab, Utah (UKC news) in May. Magic Line is Hazel's hardest route to date, adding to her list of two E9s (Once Upon a Time in the South West and Chicama) and two 8cs (Fish Eye and Mind Control), alongside four free ascents of El Capitan (the Pre-Muir Wall, Golden Gate, Freerider and the Salathé Wall).


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Hazel Findlay has been climbing for 20 of her 30 years, and started out trad climbing on the limestone sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire. She dabbled in competition climbing - she was the British junior champion six times...

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Interesting the equation of 14c to 8c/+ I always thought 14b = 8c, 14c = 8c+, 14d = 9a. Is this more a comment on the route feeling somewhere between 8c and 8c+?

That's awesome. Well done.

Absolutely superb. I'm guessing this must be the hardest crack climb done by a British woman?

26 Nov

I read it as suggesting it's either 14b or c hence the 8c/+. Given that only two people had previously done it it's hardly settled.

Anyway it's besides the point, either way it's one of the hardest crack climbs around. An amazing achievement. How many people have looked at this over the years and walked away?

If you look at the history of the route (not a long read) it was first done By Ron Kauk with preplaced kit at 14b/8c and then repeated in this style by his son, Lonnie. Lonnie then made the first ascent placing the gear at 14c/8c+. Hazel’s is the second ascent in this style, and at least two footholds broke off whilst Maddy and Hazel tried it so it’s no doubt even more solid at the grate

The grade isn’t everything and no matter what alphanumerical you put next to it this is an amazing achievement but I do think it is worth being accurate as it isn’t difficult in this case, and seems a little weird when as far as I’ve seen no one has called it 8c/+.

British women are going from strength to strength at the moment!

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