Toby told UKC:
"I really enjoyed Batman - it's the best line I've ever climbed so far with some really technical climbing and it has made me psyched for Rainman, which Steve says climbs even better coming through the Rainshadow crux."
After redpointing Rainshadow last year - his first 9a - Toby broke his finger and wasn't able to climb for three months. He explained:
"I tried to stay in shape at home with loads of bar and core work as well as general conditioning and stretching - as well as my GCSEs during lockdown - so it was a bit frustrating."
Having had three months out, Toby upped his focus ahead of the Youth World Championships in August. He returned home with a silver medal in Combined. "I was really psyched after a tough start to the year," he said.
After rehabbing and training for 9 months, as soon as he returned from Russia, Toby couldn't wait to get back on rock and headed for a holiday in Malham, where he set to work on Batman. He explained:
"Batman came together pretty quickly and on my fourth day I was ready for redpoint goes. I found two moves pretty hard on the route — a go-again move in the middle and the last move before pulling back across to the Bat Route finish."
After a few attempts, Toby started to get through to the last 'hard' move more consistently, which he then "dropped more times than [he] can remember."
Toby was forced to change his beta. He said:
"It turned out in the end that some micro-beta was pretty important and on the last right-hand pocket I changed from a shallow full crimp to using my middle two fingers, which I could get a little deeper into the hold."
Toby ticked the line on his second redpoint attempt after making the change — but not without a slightly nervy finish high up on damp holds at the top of the Bat Route finish. He added:
"I feel like I know the moves really well now - and can't wait to see how they feel when on Rainman after first doing the Rainshadow crux."
Batman was initially graded 9a+ by Steve McClure, but the consensus has settled somewhere around 9a/+. Regarding the difficulty, Toby commented:
"I'd like to have climbed lots at the grade so I could judge better but I haven't. For me Batman using Steve's direct finish is definitely a grade harder than Rainshadow and I know that Josh and Steve agree. Batman is both harder and more technical than Rainshadow and it's not over when you pull through on to the headwall either — so I just can't have the two routes at the same grade regardless of what that grade is."
"As Steve has said though… as soon as you finish Batman you only really care about Rainman and I'm psyched to see where I'm at on that with the Rainshadow crux followed by a poor rest before the harder upper wall."