British strongman Steve McClure has established the U.K.’s first 9b (5.15b). The route, at Malham Cove, Yorkshire—one of the hardest sport climbing locations in the country—has been a long-term project for McClure and is a linkup of four other routes, the easiest of which clocks in a 5.13b. The line starts up the “easy” terrain of Raindogs (5.13b), moves onto and through the crux of Rainshadow (5.14d), onto Batman (5.14d/5.15a) and then finishes up Batroute (5.14b).
McClure, aged 46, is one of the U.K.’s strongest and most prolific climbers, having established numerous hard sport routes, including Mutation (5.14d)
in 1998, which remains unrepeated, and Overshadow (5.15a) in 2007, which was, until today, the U.K.’s hardest sport climb. The journey to achieving this goal has been long for McClure, who has spent several years working the route and training specifically for it. On Monday, McClure sounded ecstatic about the ascent on Facebook:
“YES! At last, it goes! What a day. From the lowest to the highest. Thought I’d blown it at first, great conditions, but rushed on too soon with the rock still warm from the sun. Last move again. Figured that was it, I’d wasted precious good conditions. But a long rest, and a walk over the top to take in the stunning scenery refueled me, and an incredible crag vibe put me in the zone. Such a good scene. Made it by the absolute skin of my teeth, as close to falling as I’ve ever been on anything. What a buzz. What a journey.”
This new route, which he named Rainman, supersedes Overshadow as the hardest sport route in the U.K.
Watch Steve McClure work Rainman (9b/5.15b):