It seems that the UK must be the place to be, with Chris Sharma making a long awaited appearance at Malham on Monday. Chris has been in the UK on a lecture tour and was keen to get out on the crag.
It was only last October that the UK sport climbing scene had a visit from Dave Graham who called in at Raven Tor, flashing Ben's Roof (V10) and trying his luck, in very bad conditions, on Hubble, the world famous F8c+ first climbed by Ben Moon.
This week, fellow USA strong man Chris Sharma travelled up to the (slightly damp) home of Yorkshire sport climbing with Sam Whittaker of the Climbing Works.
Sam reported on the Climbing Works blog:
"We warmed up with a cold top rope of 'Consenting Adults' (F7a) and then Chris was keen to get straight on 'Rainshadow' (F9a).
Chris made a rare onsight (possibly the first?) of 'Raindogs' (F8a) in ridiculously cold temperatures and then proceeded to work out the moves on the rest of 'Rainshadow' with relative ease and even power screaming when he was committed.
He then had a couple more very impressive redpoint attempts at Rainshadow but with no success. Chris commented on how good the route was and how he was psyched to come back and try it again."
The UK sport climbing scene has been waiting a long time for some of the World's top athletes to try out Steve McClure's test-pieces, and many UK climbers have wondered just how they stack up against the other super-routes around the globe.
Raindogs is considered 'benchmark' F8a and is a short power-endurance route. It is famed for not having any 'hard moves', however we think it is better described as not having any 'easy' moves either!
Raindogs was first climbed by Dave Kenyon also in 1986 as the bolt revolution took hold on Yorkshire limestone. Raindogs was also the first British F8a to be climbed by a woman when the late Rachel Farmer redpointed it in 1992.
Raindogs is unusual in that the last move is a long slap to the lower-off chain itself, and not using the chain as a finishing hold may well bump the grade up to F8a+. It may have been onsighted before (anyone care to step forward - possibly Didier Raboutou?), and we have heard about a superb effort from Miles Gibson, who hit the chain on his onsight attempt, but failed to grab it!
Rainshadow is one of Steve McClure's unrepeated F9a's. It is an extension to Raindogs, tackling the superb roof above the Catwalk.
If you're looking to see some of the top UK climbers in action, then you could do worse than getting down to the Climbing Works International Festival (CWIF) this weekend in Sheffield.
You can catch glimpses of both Steve McClure and Miles Gibson on the video from the 2008 CWIF below: