Grandad Haston Climbs 9a at 52 years old

© Laurence Gouault Haston

Stevie Haston Climbs 9a Sport Route at 52.

"When you reach that age, your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag and suddenly before you know it you are a fat @%@&!^£t"

credit: with apologies Carter USM

How many of you over forties are chugging down a bottle of wine tonight? When you reach the wrong side of forty responsibilities cave in on you and motivation decreases exponentially. Come evenings, kids or no kids, you slump into the sofa and are still there in the morning, bad tempered and sweaty!

But not all.

Some have reason to get out of bed in the morning and the 52 year old who is Stevie Haston is a shining climbing example to us all whether you are 16 or 62.

Colin Wells on Stevie Haston: Leading extremes, Scottish V and alpine TD by his teens, the half-Malteser (mum from Valetta) was soon doing impressive stuff like the second winter ascent of Eiger North Face, on-sighting E6 6b on South Stack, Grade VII ice routes, first free solo of the Walker Spur, soloing hard extremes in Wales and Grand Courses in the Alps and putting up E7s: on sighting F8a, red-pointing F8c, making first ascents of VII (allegedly Scottish IX) ice-falls, free-soloing the Walker Spur in winter in eight hours: Octopussy (M8), followed by Will Gadd's Amphibian (M9) in '97.

Last week Stevie Haston got out of bed and established a new E8 on the Lleyn Peninsula. An overhanging and loose 40m pitch up the steeps of Craig Dorys UKC News.

This week he completed a long standing project, an overhanging 30 metre limestone cave route, Descente Lolitta at Grotte de Sabart in the French Pyrenees near his adopted home of Ariege.

Descente Lolitta is a link up of several hard routes that add up to an overall grade of 9a. Stevie had to go on a strict diet to get his weight down to 66kg for this ascent and also, according to a report at the DMM website certain individuals who posted on internet forums in the UK also helped with his motivation.

The Magic Grade of 9a

Stevie Haston
© Laurence Gouault Haston

If you are a keen sport climber the first of the magic grades is 8a, to take it above that level takes much dedication and effort. Perhaps less than 100 climbers have climbed 9a. The hardest sport routes in the world get the grade of 9b and there are only a handful.

Other Brits that have climbed 9a include: Neil Carson, Steve McClure, Dave Macleod, John Gaskins (and arguably Ben Moon!)...all under 40 of course.

Manolo (alias Maurizio Zanolla) climbed Bain de sang, 9a at 48 years old then in August this year at 51 years old he climbed Eternit 9a in the Italian Dolomites (

Standards are rising so fast that Planet Mountain poses the question: The limits of sport climbing: 9a soon a warm-up? after two climbers, Patxi Usobiaga and Adam Ondra both climbed 9a routes second go. The first 9a flash and maybe 9a onsight may just be around the corner.

Then a 14 year old French boy, Enzo Oddo, has done three 9a's in the last two weeks (

The first sport climbs to be given the magic grade of 9a were Action Directe by Wolfgang Güllich in 1991 and Alexander Huber's Om in 1992.

Huge congratulations to Stevie Haston for this inspiring achievement.

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17 Sep, 2009
"Some of the postings by those f****** on the UKC and UKB forums about Bam Bam also made me angry which probably helped as well. "
17 Sep, 2009
Absolutely inspirational stuff!! Wow! Rich
17 Sep, 2009
i would have thought an 8c+ into a 7a would warrant a jump to 9a....let alone into an 8a+ then 8a!!
17 Sep, 2009
Amazing and an achievement that again shows how mentaly strong Stevie can be-I would guess mentally one of the strongest climbers the UK has ever produced.
17 Sep, 2009
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