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Mission Impossible E9 7a by Hazel Findlay

© Ray Wood

Shortly after Angus Kille's fourth ascent of Mission Impossible E9 7a at  Gallt Yr Ogof, Ogwen Valley, Hazel Findlay followed suit and ticked the line.

Hazel Findlay on Mission Impossible E9 7a.   © Ray Wood
Hazel Findlay on Mission Impossible E9 7a.
© Ray Wood

The route is estimated to be around 8b in difficulty and is protected by old pegs interspersed with small runners. Hazel had recently posted on social media about a niggling shoulder injury and how her body didn't seem to be responding well to training, so her expectations weren't high.

Last year, Hazel had tried the route with Angus and the linked most of the hard part of the route on her second session. She told UKC:

'I really loved the route from my first try. It's super steep, with technical climbing. You need a good level of power endurance as there are no good places to rest once you get stuck into the crux.'

The summer season ended and Hazel was busy coaching before she and Angus headed off to the States, but Mission Impossible remained on the ticklist for both climbers this year. Hazel told UKC:

'For most of lockdown, it would have been perfect conditions up there and then even after lock down the National Parks were closed and parking limited so we didn't get on it until the end of July. You need at least three days of dry weather for the crux hold to dry out and during August we didn't get that in the mountains.'

Upon their return in August, Angus worked out a way to avoid the crux wet hold but it was harder and a longer, more shouldery move. Hazel explained:

'This move ended up hurting my shoulder so I had to take some time off to rehab and rest.' Due to the wet weather and a sore shoulder, Hazel had 'kind of written-off' the route for this year.

Well I feel a bit sheepish now... 🐑 Because after complaining in my last post about how my body wasn't working I had a great week of climbing. We finally got some sun in Wales which dried out the crux hold on Mission Impossible and that timed nicely with improvements in my shoulder. To be honest, I was barely strong/fit enough to do the route, it was mostly extreme effort and power screams that got me up it. If I'm not too embarrassed I'll share the video with the audio. I think this is the best hard British trad line I've done in the UK and a real feat of power endurance. Run out 8b is probably a better grade than E9 7a but with the route where it is and the weather round here I think E9 for effort is fair. I really surprised myself yesterday and had a great time trying that hard. For me, climbing is all about those try hard moments. Thanks @ray_wood for the photo and @angus.kille for the belay @blackdiamond @seatosummitgear @lasportivagram

A post shared by Hazel Findlay (@hazel_findlay) on

With Angus still being able to attempt the route, Hazel was tempted to give it a tentative shot. She explained:

'Angus was doing really well on it so I went up to belay him last week and since my shoulder was feeling a bit better I thought I'd have a play. I surprised myself and did OK on it so I thought I'd come back on Monday and give it a go. So much of climbing projects is having confidence in yourself that something is worth a really strong effort even when you consider the odds.

'I knew I'd have a good time trying the route even if I failed so I was happy to give it my all. The experience was amazing since I was at my limit for every move of the crux. It might be one of the more fun single pitch trad routes I've done.'

On witnessing Hazel's ascent, Angus told UKC:

'She got to the crux having made a couple of mistakes but just power screamed through every move. It's some of the best climbing I've ever seen. Being able to try that hard on a route is like a super power.'

Commenting on the grade, Hazel wrote on Instagram: 'Run out 8b is probably a better grade than E9 7a but with the route where it is and the weather round here I think E9 for effort is fair.'

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Hazel Findlay has been climbing for 25 of her 31 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...

Hazel's Athlete Page 51 posts 6 videos

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Very inspiring! Nice one

24 Sep

Phenomenal effort!!! Wish I had a sore shoulder 😃😃😃😃😃

great effort!!

Fantastic effort, inspiring.

How good will she be if she gets back to full strength???

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