UPDATE: Steve McClure Climbs Batman, 9a/+

by Duncan Campbell - UKC May/2013
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+Steve McClure showing the technical nature of climbing at Malham, 160 kb
Steve McClure showing the technical nature of climbing at Malham
UKC Gear, May 2013
© Tim Glasby

Steve McClure has just successfully redpointed a new link-up at Malham, Yorkshire, though not his main project at the crag, it still weighs in at 9a/+, putting it up there with the hardest routes at the crag.

The route, now known as Batman starts up Bat Route (8c), then climbs a new 8c+ section before re-joining Bat Route at the top, However, Steve's main project 'The Easy Easy', is thought to be a significantly harder, with it climbing Rainshadow past it's crux then linking the new 8c+ section into the top of Bat Route.

In his blog Steve describes the difference between the two routes:

"Rather than about 8c+ into the new climbing which is what the 'Easy Easy' project throws (to where it leaves Rainshadow), its only 8b, making for a 9a/+ overall link."

Steve then finished the day off with a retro-flash of Unjustified (8b+/8c), having climbed it before many years ago and had forgotten the moves.

Steve had the following to say about Batman:

"I first bolted this project back in 2010, trying it for maybe 10 days in 2011. Though it doesn't have an independent start or finish, there is a huge amount of new climbing (maybe 10m) which is extremely sustained on tiny holds, with barely a single point to clip, never mind chalk up. It's a very rare find and I'm extremely privileged to have found it. Though the finished route would be 'link up' in nature, it is clearly very valid and potentially better than the routes it deviates from. Without doubt its one of the best pieces of climbing I have ever managed.

+Steve McClure on Batman, Malham, 212 kb
Steve McClure on Batman, Malham
UKC Gear, May 2013
© Tim Glasby

There was always two possible starts, both as valid. I began with the harder Rainshadow start, but knowing in my mind I was not up for it, potentially ever. The start was really a way to get up to the new climbing which I was treating as an independent route, probably around 8c+ in its own right, resting at the start of this and going for the link. Then as the new section got closer I realised a link from the ground was on. Through Rainshadow was too far for me this season, but showed the difficulty, as when trying this way I was climbing through the Rainshadow crux 2 or 3 times a day. Pleasing; as when I climbed Rainshadow I only ever made it through the crux twice, once falling very close to the top, the next was success (same for Jordan). This shows real progress with my climbing, and that the new line is considerably harder, whichever start was used!

Starting up Batroute was the obvious challenge for now. I named it 'copout project', as a work in progress; a personal badge, but in retrospect that was a bit of a mistake; it could easily be as good as it gets...very easily! It took a lot out of me, pushed me pretty close to my limit, but also took me to the edge of the season's window. I was there yesterday and dampness was coming through, a redpoint would have been impossible. I'm away for a good few weeks now with work and wouldn't be able to get on it. Summer will soon hit, humidity and midgies. Sunday was my last chance; snatched in the nick of time!

Choosing a name is always tricky. But since I've spent a good deal of my time on various routes at Malham hanging upside down by my toes, including this one, perhaps the name of 'Batman' should have come straight away. But grading is harder. Not so important for me to put a number on it as I have nothing left to prove, except that I'm not totally over the hill, but perhaps that's only to myself! I'll never make superstar status now, I'll never manage 9b+; anything below that is old hat in terms of big news. So it doesn't matter what '9' it is; 9a, 9a+ or 9b is just off the pace.

I expected this version to be 9a/+. It took longer than I expected and might make it into 9a+. I'd like to be more definite, but right now I'm not sure where I am with my climbing, having been injured most of last year and unsure as to whether I'm really on form, or actually pretty out of shape! But one thing is for sure, last year, due to injury, I was sure it was game over for hard climbing, so wherever I am with my climbing right now – it's in a pretty good place!

Steve McClure is sponsored by: Petzl, Five Ten, Marmot, Beal and Entre-Prises


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