Hannah Toward

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Date of Birth: 29th July 2007 

Hometown: Southampton

Hannah started climbing aged seven, attending a Saturday kids club in her hometown of Southampton. After only a few weeks she knew she wanted to push further and trialed for the club’s Development Squad. When she didn’t make the cut she only became more determined, training harder and entering competitions until she was offered a place on the team.

Two years after she started climbing, at age nine, Hannah redpointed Seventh Aardvark (7b) at Malham, Yorkshire.

This was a massive stepping-stone in my climbing,” says Hannah, “as up until then I had never led anything hard or taken any big falls outside.”

A year later, aged 10, Hannah touched the chains on the ever-popular Raindogs (8a), also at Malham, being narrowly defeated by the demanding final move to the chains. The following spring she returned feeling stronger and more confident but still couldn’t clip the chains.

I learnt an important lesson that sometimes if you want things too much it can make it harder to achieve them,” says Hannah, who subsequently moved on to other objectives in order to keep her climbing fun and enjoyable.

During 2018, Hannah also climbed five 7A/+ boulders in Fontainebleau, three of which she completed in a mad two hours.

I was extremely pleased with this,” says Hannah, “as I had not done much outside bouldering before then. Later in that year I ticked a few classic 7A/+ boulders in the Peak District. Climbing Early Doors with Ben Bransby, at Curbar, was a real highlight and my favorite boulder so far. It was particularly hard as it was freezing cold and Ben’s dog hid one of my socks and I struggled to keep warm.

In early 2019, aged 11, Hannah broke into the magic 8a grade when she climbed El Guardia in Margalef.

It took quite few sessions over a couple of trips, and a lot of training,” says Hannah. “When I topped it, I was numb with relief and happiness—that moment was probably my climbing highlight so far."

The seal was broken and the eigth grade was wide open for Hannah now. She promptly returned to Malham and ticked her old nemesis Raindogs, and on a trip to Rodeller in October 2019 quickly ticked two more 8as—Gracia's Fina and A Crabita—and then went right ahead and jumped to 8b with an ascent of Les Chascals.

"It is quite a long and crimpy route with good rests so it suited me really well," says Hannah. "It didn't feel much harder than the 8a's I did but they were my anti style."

Hannah Toward
© Murray Freestone

As the youngest member of the DMM Youth Development Team, Hannah is not yet old enough to compete on the IFSC Junior circuit but in June 2018 she attended the Youth Colours Festival in Austria—the biggest lead comp for climbers under the age of 13—and claimed the silver trophy after an excellent performance amongst stiff competition.

Hannah is also interested in trad climbing and led her first E1, Stroop at Swanage, in late 2018, and in September 2019 she climbed Ocean Boulvard (E3 5b) at Boulder Ruckle in Dorset. In the coming years hopes to start leading more trad. Given her achievements to date and her interest in both competition climbing and all aspects of outdoor climbing, Hannah will certainly be one to watch in the coming years.

Hannah, aged 9, climbing Seventh Aardvark (7b) at Malham.
Hannah, aged 9, climbing Seventh Aardvark (7b) at Malham. © Neil Gresham.

Q&A


What do you like most about climbing as a sport?


I love climbing because every time you go it is different so you can never get bored of it. The feeling you get after coming down from a route you really wanted to get is like nothing I have experienced anywhere else in my life. Even though your forearms are screaming, the sense of pure contentment is overwhelming.


What do you like most about the climbing community?


I like how everyone is always so supportive and, even if you are a child, adults are willing to accept you as a climber and to work things with you.


Do you have any long-term goals for climbing?


Simply to be the BEST climber in the world.


Do you have any goals for the future?


I would like to study something science-y at university, however my dream job would be to live in Austria and be a full-time climber.