Written by Hailey McFelia | Cover Photo by Austin Keith
Here at Sender One we are dedicated to empowering women as strong individuals and leaders, we look to provide a safe and supportive community for women and non-binary climbers. Our Send with Women initiative strives to both foster relationships and encourage personal growth. In order to shed light on this initiative we teamed up with a Summer Send-Off finalist Anna Hazlett to view the climbing world from her perspective.
Anna Hazlett, who goes by the moniker Anna Hazelnutt on Instagram and YouTube, took the time to share her thoughts and answer a few questions. If you aren’t familiar with the energetic, fun, and amazing slab climber, stop reading this article and go down a rabbit hole of awesomeness. Watch her dance so beautifully and gracefully on rock that it looks like she’s floating. Okay enough fangirling… let’s get to the Q&A.
Photo by Austin Keith (@austinkeithphoto)
How did you get started climbing and what hooked you in?
When I was around 15 and before I knew about climbing gyms, I went on a bike ride with my dad. We passed by a renaissance fair with a ton of art booths and a rock wall, so of course we stopped in. The woman running the rock wall let me go up once, twice, and eventually as many times as I wanted because I wouldn’t leave. I remember being in the harness for hours until we finally had to bike home before the sun set on us. Then a few months later, I remember begging my dad to take me to a rock gym after a bad cross country meet, but we had no idea how to do it and we just walked around and admired the climbers. I didn’t actually start climbing until a year later when I was asked on a date, my first date, to a climbing gym. That same day I bought a membership and I’ve never stopped. This is the moment I truly started climbing, and often the one I reference in interviews.
What’s in your crag backpack? The must haves that are in your bag when you’re out climbing.
Snacks! And more snacks. And then, if you can believe it: even more snacks. I get VERY hangry and no one likes a hangry hippo.
What is your most memorable moment in your climbing journey? The one that puts an uncontrollable smile on your face or makes your heart race just thinking about it.
If I had to pick just one, I’d choose the moment I topped out “the Walk of Life” in Devon, England. I remember feeling completely in control throughout the entire 50 meter slab trad route, and when I got to the top I was beyond euphoric. It was a mix of feeling excited, proud, calm, competent, and overjoyed.
Why is slab sexy? What do you think most people are missing?
It’s a tango with the wall that requires precision, focus, and trust in how you and your partner (the wall) connect. I think (a) Slab is typically sandbagged, and (b) Slab is often scary. It’s hard to want to feel terrified when projecting something 3 grades easier than your max. People don’t like to get their egos smashed.
What advice would you give to other women in rock climbing?
Sometimes it feels unfair to be a woman in rock climbing. That’s such a valid feeling. But try not to let your perception of what people say or think about you get in the way of your rock climbing journey. Do it your way. You belong here too.
Photos by Silver Lucia (@silver_lucia)
What is your ultimate goal as a rock climber?
I have both grade goals and specific route/boulder goals for each discipline I do (which is a constantly evolving list), but I also have my psychological goals, like ultimately remembering to find joy with every climb.
Do you view yourself as a role model? Do you ever have struggles with the idea of being looked up to?
I’m only human at the end of the day. I think the best thing that someone in the public eye can do is to represent that truth. I hope that, if I am a role model to someone out there, I’m a role model who shows that it's okay to be imperfect and grow from experiences, rather than someone who feigns perfection.
Once upon a time, I was scrolling through TikTok and stumbled upon a few comments on a video stating “I wish more women were in documentaries about rock climbing”. What are your thoughts on having to seek out or search for women in rock climbing films?
There are a lot of badass women doing badass rock climbs in some pretty badass documentaries now. I think the next push is for a badass all-woman crew behind the camera, too.
What is your Pro Tip for other climbers out there?
Climbing is about learning. I find that thinking about climbing “sends” in terms of both completion AND execution is a very valuable growth mindset. E.g. I sent it, but it was sloppy; maybe I can still learn more from it. This offers a process-focused solution to the more problematic must-conquer mentality.
How would you like to see women involved in the rock climbing world? This could be First Accents or guide books written and climbs graded by women.
There aren’t many women first ascentionsits, guidebook authors or route setters when compared to men and the current ratio of women to men that climb. This creates bias in grades and popularizes climbing trends that often favor a bigger body. These climbs shape us and our ideas about climbing. It would be incredible to see an initiative to get more women involved in the entire climbing process, whether that means setting or establishing outside, to have a more diverse set of people coming up with the ideas that we, as the greater climbing community, play on.
Thank you so much Anna for shedding light on women in the climbing industry and your perspective! We look forward to more content and seeing your adventures! Follow Anna on Instagram and Youtube @annahazelnutt