E9 Onsight Attempt for McClure

Steve McClure onsighting Heart of Stone E7  © Keith Sharples
Steve McClure onsighting Heart of Stone E7
© Keith Sharples

Wet Hold Stops McClure High On Mission Impossible:

Steve McClure had a recent weekend trip to North Wales during which he visited the esoteric Gallt yr Ogof in the Ogwen valley, a crag that has been in the news recently due to James McHaffie's repeat of Mission Impossible (E9).

McClure warmed up by onsighting the superb E7 Heart of Stone, negotiating wet holds as he climbed. Heart of Stone is around F7c in difficulty and is generally well protected. The rock is extremely steep and the climbing is very pumpy and athletic.

The route has had several ground-up repeats in recent years, starting back in 2007 when myself and James McHaffie first laid eyes on the crag on an exploratory day out. This June local climber Pete Robins came very close to an onsight, falling on the last move, then climbing the route next try. This prompted visiting climber and photographer Dave Pickford to put down his camera and slip on his rock boots, resulting in a stylish flash of the route using Pete's gear. It is thought that Steve McClure's ascent is the first true onsight.

Steve then set his sights a little higher - an onsight of Mission Impossible (E9 7a). He was stopped at the crux by a streak of water, and his attempt ended, but what is note worthy is that McClure, no stranger to hard trad headpoints and one of the World's strongest sport climbers, considers E9 routes to be within his onsight ability.

Other E9's that fit in the hard but safe-ish category would be The Big Issue at Pembroke (Steve has already headpointed this one), Divided Years (E8/9) in the Mourne Mountains and possibly even Parthian Shot at Burbage (does this count as safe these days - gulp?!).

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Steve McClure is sponsored by Marmot , Petzl , Beal , Five Ten

Thanks go to Keith Sharples for his help with this report.


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3 Aug, 2009
awesome effort.....if he went back to MI and succeeded could it be a first E9 ground up?
3 Aug, 2009
Great to hear this sort of stuff. Sounds like he was really close. If Steve Mac has his trad hat back on I'm sure it'll only be a matter of time before E9 gets onsighted. Good effort!
3 Aug, 2009
I thought Parthian Shot went ground up to more than one person didn't it?
3 Aug, 2009
Superb. Look forward to that news :-)
3 Aug, 2009
YEAH BOY!!! that is awesome! steve mcclure is a legend bloody water!! well god effort anyway!!
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