Black Diamond Presents: Hazel Findlay Rocks Down to Electric Avenue (5.13+R)Monday, August 19, 2019
In 2008 I lived in The Pines Campground at Arapiles, Australia, for three months. I was 19 and had no qualms about living in the dirt; we dumpster dived, set up a “palace” which consisted of a few sofas, tarpaulin and group stove and all we cared about was climbing. The dirty scenes attracted the rarest of characters including two young Swedish lads, who in between worrying about their dwindling snus supplies talked predominantly of one thing: their home crag Bohuslän.
“The granite is perfect,” they’d say. “The routes test you in a way that no other climbs will. Foreigners don’t know about it, but it looks a lot better than the gritstone in your country.”
Since then, I encountered many other climbers who’d ventured to the west coast of southern Sweden and they would all return with similar stories. I had to go. But somehow the years slipped by. There are so many places a climber has to go to. And Sweden being so rainy never appealed quite so much as France and Spain. It wasn’t until 10 years later when my good friend Madeleine Cope said she wanted to go, that I committed to a plan.
We spent the first few days exploring the area and climbing some of the classics. It was still spring and there was a fair amount of wetness on a lot of the crags. The landscape itself isn’t too dissimilar from the UK with an understated beauty that feels familiar and welcoming.
I had my heart set on Electric Avenue, a bold 5.13 testpiece. We went and checked it out when it was still wet. It was really fun to have Maddy there to try it with me and help work out the moves and the gear. The crux is really “reachy” and the short-person beta was a bit too crimpy for Maddy as she was recovering from a finger injury. So, it looked like I’d be the only one going for the send and she set her sights on some other routes.
The morning of the send I got some bad personal news. It felt difficult to jump on such a heady route with all that emotional weight, but because I knew there was weather coming in I tried it anyway. I have had experience with this feeling before; the feeling that today is not the best day to try hard. And I know from experience that you can always try, even if the first thing you commit to is just packing your bag and walking to the cliff. Often, just being on the rock is enough to let go of any mental baggage you’re carrying, and that’s exactly what happened.
The best experiences in climbing are the ones where you get to try your absolute hardest, when there are so many moments where you think you’re off but somehow, you’re still on. My ascent of Electric Avenue was very much like that and because of it, it will always be one of my more memorable hard ascents.
--BD Athlete Hazel Findlay