Anna Hazlett has climbed her second E9 with an ascent of The Walk of Life (E9 6c) at Dyer's Lookout in Devon. The line was first climbed by James Pearson in 2008. Anna is the first woman to complete the route.
Ever since Anna - who uses the moniker 'Anna Hazelnutt' on social media - had first looked at Once Upon a Time in the South West (OUAT) E9 6c, which she climbed in September 2021 (UKC News) as one of her first trad routes, she had also set her sights on the neighbouring Walk of Life. Anna told UKC:
"In my mind, both climbs were so entirely out of the question that I figured I might as well try both on a top rope and enjoy what the sea cliff has to offer — slab is my favourite climbing style, so the fact that there were two lines on this stunning face was super exciting."
After headpointing OUAT, Anna never had the chance to try The Walk of Life before leaving and immediately hatched a plan to return. A few weeks ago, Anna drove to Devon with Tom Randall to work the line and was "instantly hooked." She commented:
"The line is filled with unique, flowy sequences that are quintessentially slab; the first time you touch the holds on the wall, they seem near impossible, but after swinging around for hours, playing with different combinations, movements begin to click and your body relaxes to find a flow. Such. Good. Climbing."
Last week, Anna and Tom found the time to head back to the South West and project the climb. Anna spent the week piecing moves together and figuring out gear, and on Sunday, their last day, she tied in for the lead. She told UKC:
"Luckily I sent it on my first attempt — I didn't really want to fall on some of the gear I had placed, although my placements are definitely getting better and smoother now that I have a bit more trad experience under my belt! Tom even said I looked like a proper trad climber this time round!"
"On the send, I felt extremely confident and, in contrast to OUAT, pretty fearless and in control. I was nervous about the no fall zone in the beginning, but after making the crux move on that section, I let myself be present and enjoy the climbing all the way to the top. I think I spent something like 45min on the climb (if not more!) because I milked every little rest I could find. Also, it was particularly windy on Sunday, so I timed my movements between big gusts, which made the whole thing quite exciting."
Anna had been staying with an artist, Merlyn, at her house in Hartland and had gotten to know the locals. "A few of them even came out to see my lead after they rang the Sunday bells, and it filled my heart to have their support," she said.
Filmmaker Alastair Lee, who was documenting the ascent for this year's Brit Rock Film Tour, commented:
"One of the most impressive pieces of climbing I've captured, total control and immense concentration over such a long, complex and serious pitch. Anna's 3rd hard trad route, kinda ridiculous."
Anna felt that the route climbs like a story. She broke down each section into "chapters" and an epilogue when thinking of how to put it together as a complete route. She explained:
"Each chapter of the climb was distinct in its style, and had its own challenges to overcome. Like any good novel, chapter 1 gets you hooked! This first section is extremely bold on thin crimps, with large spans on insecure feet. It climbs for about 12 metres before you can wriggle in a slider, so Tom and I decided it was a good idea to place some sky hooks, a broken pecker, and an extremely insecure RP in random nooks just to give that extra bit of false confidence for the lead.
"Chapter 2 is a solid crimp line that can be interpreted in many different ways; lots of mediocre holds throughout, and no one path is better than another. There's no crux section, just steady slots and high steps with pretty decent gear, although I found it a bit runout in sections. The chapter ends with a distinct hold that looks like a smile, so naturally I dotted on two eyes with chalk and it dubbed it "big smiley."
"Moving into chapter 3, things begin to get a bit spicier — the moves tougher, and the gear placements less secure. Different from the edges of chapter 1 and the slots of chapter 2, chapter 3 features smeary feet, palm presses, and finger cracks. I found this section extremely sustained, especially on the feet, and the lack of gear placements meant that I knew I had to have every single movement absolutely dialled. Chapter 3 is extremely flowy, ending with a bit of a lunge from a tiny foothold that might not be anything at all, actually, into two triangle holds. Stepping onto these triangles with hands in a third triangle marks the end of chapter 3, and offers a much welcomed respite before the bouldery crux of the final chapter!
"Full crimps on micro edges and yet some more questionable gear (featuring the smallest RP that exists!) creates a beautiful resolution to the story! I found the sequence after the triangles to be the physical crux of the entire climb. A comically big span to the largest hold on the route marks the end of the book.
"But wait there's more! A bomber gear placement here, then the epilogue consisting of a single big step up into jugs leads to the top mantel. I felt the route to be around French 8b in difficulty, with the crux in chapter 4, so although it has a bold start, this climb really was about holding it together until the very end."
Born in Illinois, Anna is a freelance video editor and YouTuber and has been climbing for eight years, with sport ticks up to 8b+ under her belt alongside her two hard trad ascents.