Instantly recognisable on competition walls for her flexibility and static, thoughtful style, Victoria’s sweetheart started her climbing career at Hardrock Nunawading.
Melbourne-born Ashlee Hendy was 12 years old when she first joined Hardrock Climbing Gym’s junior squad. “My first visit to Hardrock was a ‘bring-a-friend’ night,” Ashlee recalls. “Hardrock looked pretty different back then. It had plywood walls!”
Having spent her childhood climbing trees and swinging on monkey bars, Ashlee took to climbing quickly. “I just loved it. It made me feel strong, and there was always a new and more difficult challenge to take on,” she says.
While she says no single achievement of hers stands out, she cites sending De La Soul – a sustained and technical grade 26 on steep, bright orange rock in Van Diemens Land, the Grampians – at 18 years old as “the first time I felt like I had climbed something ‘hard’ outdoors.”
She continues: “I’m proud of my harder sends, but mostly it’s the little things. Overcoming a weakness, or doing something that scares me gives me the best feeling. It doesn’t have to be anything special by other people’s standards. It’s those moments when you surprise yourself and do – or even just try – something you didn’t think you could ever do.”
Nicknamed ‘Bendy Hendy’, thanks to her flexibility Ashlee’s signature moves are high-steps and impressive hand-foot matches. She climbs statically, and excels at pumpy routes. “I struggle with hard or powerful moves,” she says.
In the coming years, Ashlee hopes to climb harder routes outside and improve her trad-climbing skills.
Occupation: Neurophysiology researcher
Years climbing: 15
Weight: Anywhere from 50-55kg.
Sport/Trad/Boulder/Aid/Speed/Alpine: Mostly sport, but I also boulder and enjoy getting scared on trad from time to time.
Best crag: Taipan, because it’s terrifying, inspiring and beautiful all at once.
Crag fuel: Bananas!
Shoes of choice: La Sportiva Miura Women’s – a great all-rounder.
Heroes: I love climbing with and watching people new to the sport. It’s awesome to watch people discover climbing and see the obsession start.
Strengths: Giving things a go. I think my mental approach is also a strength – I’m good at taking falls and keeping a good mindset, which is vital for projecting climbs.
Weaknesses: Dynos and placing gear. I suck at both and should really practice.
Words to live by: You can do anything, but you cannot do everything.
1st Victorian (2nd overall), Open A Female category, 2014 Victorian State Lead Championship.
5th, Open A Female category, 2014 Australian National Lead Championship.
1st, Open A Female category, 2011 Victorian State Lead Championship.
5th, Open A Female category, 2011 Australian National Lead Championship.
1st, Junior Female category, 2006, Australian National Lead Championship.
Notable ascents (Outdoor)
Monkey Puzzle (28), The Gallery, the Grampians
Venom (28), Taipan Wall, the Grampians.
Photo Copyright © Maya Sugiharto 2015 (profile)
Photo Hendy Collection (top)